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Summer babies do less well academically in part due to streaming.

(260 Posts)
TwistTee Fri 08-Mar-13 09:42:40

I read this article with great interest and much concern. My 4 yr old daughter, born at the end of August already shows some signs of a lack of confidence and poor concentration when compared to the older kids in her class. Not surprising as some of them are almost a whole year older.
It worries me that she could potentially always be behind and I often question if we made the right decision in starting her schooling at age 4.
I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences of summer babies in this context. Any tips on confidence issues?
And does anyone have a view on the issue of streaming as mentioned in the article? Her school are about to sort the kids but have not yet decided how. Her teacher said they might do it by age, ability or random. I was keen on the former as it would mean she stays in a class of 20 as opposed to a class of 30.

Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Mar-13 17:02:44

"yes some August might learn to read later but it really does no matter at all, because they will do it when the can and when the are ready"

But if it impacts on their achievement in a way which can be measured then surely it is worth worrying about?

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 17:03:19

Shagmundfreud exactly, there is proof for research supporting it. There is an effect of age in any age related system. One person doing well (or the reverse) does not disprove a theory.

But many parents of summer borns here also provided very positive anecdotes. Of course you shouldn't write off your summer borns (in England, as there are different cut offs for school in Scotland, etc). We can't just ignore the fact and say blah blah it's not true, you are just making it up. The right thing to do is support and nurture those summer born. Many parents here said they have done different things, eg sports, talk to the teachers, etc, to build the confidence. If the school is more likely to write off a younger child, then us parents should work doubly hard to make sure it's not the case.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:08:51

Grants100 read the thread. Streaming does happen in primary school. It happens in my DCs primary school.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:12:15

And the comment "you don't know and will never know how other children are doing with their education and social skills" this is very wrong.

That's the whole problem with streaming. Two classes one for educationally advanced and socially aware children .... And the other one.

So by doing this sending a clear message to all parents and children in the entire school about educational and social skills.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:13:21

Onelittle , yes you have to fight for your average summer born.

And that is unfair.

Fallenangle Fri 08-Mar-13 17:26:34

Bramshot. Apparently even setting within a class appears to have a detrimental effect. The study found that some sort of setting or streaming is very common. I believe it is known as differentiation. The academics think that children get the idea they are a particular ability level and then perform at that level. You can find the actual report at

mumof3teens Fri 08-Mar-13 18:03:23

DS1 is late summer born. Always academic but socially less confident. Did gcse maths and A level maths a year early (state school) and is now a Dr. Was put in ability groups for English and Maths from reception. All the children knew the order of groupings whether they were named after trees, colours or whatever. Started school at Christmas half time then Easter full time. Don't really know the answerhmm

Lcy Fri 08-Mar-13 18:40:37

DD was born at end of August. When she started school it was obvious that the older children in her class had more confidence, found it easier to leave their parents, more socially able etc... She was also tiny.

Her teacher and assistants made a lot of extra provision for her and really did so much more than could be expected to help her settle in and become part of the group. A year on and you can't tell she is a summer born (apart from still being tiny). I think it helped that we are in Wales and the focus of the first few years is learning through play. So much less pressure and more time to help develop important social skills.

Talkinpeace Fri 08-Mar-13 18:52:43

As the mum of an end of August boy.

I am utterly against streaming and utterly for setting
because sets will vary between subjects so most kids get to shine somewhere
but streaming picks one subject and makes all the others lump it - which is really bad for differentiated learning and contradicts "Every Child Matters"

TapselteerieO Fri 08-Mar-13 19:16:31

I wonder if it is the same for Scotland? It makes my brain hurt trying to think about it. At my dc's last school there were a lot of children moving in from the English education system (forces), then there were parents who had always lived here - the longer term residents tended to send their dc to school later, so a late December - to mid Feb born child would generally start school at 5 and a half, but incomers used to the English education system would start their dc as early as possible, at 4 and a half (especially if they knew they would be returning to English education system). Comparing children that are a year apart in age seems obviously wrong to me.

I have noticed children with March birthdays in Scotland are much more mature/confident/advanced in general, I have even noticed children a few months apart in early years are at quite different stages. I think it would be fair if exact age was taken into account when judging ability especially when differentiating/streaming/setting.

rubyfoz Fri 08-Mar-13 19:22:02

I have 2 summer borns - DD1 in yr8, DD2 in yr6 - they were among the last cohorts to have dual-intake (they both started school in January) which I think was far more damaging than the current system. They were an entire term behind the rest of their year group and it absolutely took a year or 2 to catch up.
I would certainly have preferred them to start school in September and be a little younger than to lose a whole term of education.
I believe this will eventually show through in the relative age research studies - summer born children now are at much less of a disadvantage.

Pozzled Fri 08-Mar-13 19:22:23

Fallenangle, differentiation is not the same as setting or streaming. A lesson can be differentiated in many different ways to ensure that all children are challenged and making progress.

I think grouping by ability in a class could definitely be detrimental. If the groups are nearly always the same, if one group always sits with the TA, if the teacher always praises the higher group, or encourages a competitive atmosphere, rather than one where everyone's contribution is valued.

But as I said earlier, groups in themselves are not a problem imo- it's the way they are used. And that depends on the ethos of the school and the individual teacher.

Viviennemary Fri 08-Mar-13 19:26:52

I don't think it's to do with streaming. A lot of primary schools have grouping for maths and English. But I think it's more to do with they are younger when they start school and younger when they sit their exams. I have heard that a higher percentage of school leavers going to Oxford or Cambridge are born September to December.

Pozzled Fri 08-Mar-13 19:44:18

I think that there are two separate issues really. Summer-borns are known to do worse than autumn-borns, and streaming can also be a bad thing as it can set low expectations. But when the two occur together, you get Summer-borns believing that they're not as bright as others in their class, when the truth is that they're just younger.

Both of my DDs are Summer-borns, something that as a teacher I always hoped to avoid! And it does concern me because I know that statistically they're at a disadvantage. DD1 is only in reception, so too early to tell. She's doing fine so far... But then I think that if she'd been born 3 weeks later, she'd only start this September... And then she'd be a lot more confident, and probably have started school already reading.

TenthMuse Fri 08-Mar-13 20:44:56

I'm a teacher with a summer birthday - so have two perspectives on this.
Personally, I (along with most of my summer-born friends) seem to have bucked the statistical trend by coping fine academically, but I realise that individual successes don't mean that there isn't a broader problem.

I think it is potentially very easy to slip into a cycle of social/confidence issues with summer-born children, who are often smaller and less savvy about 'life skills' when they start school. Unfortunately, too many teachers fail to distinguish between superficial competence (ability to write name/tie shoelaces/interact confidently with others) and raw academic ability. As a Year 1 teacher, I noticed that the older children who were coming into my class from Reception were disproportionately awarded the highest scores on their Foundation Stage profiles. Since these scores are (erroneously) used by many schools for target-setting all the way up to Year 6, this means that September and October-born children are often 'expected' to achieve more highly than July and August-borns from the outset. I've taught several pupils with August birthdays further up the school (Years 4 and 5) who have suddently come into their own, and their previous teachers have commented "But they're low ability..." because they were less confident lower down the school.

I do think schools are becoming more aware of the potential issues with summer birthdays; it's now pretty standard to identify and monitor younger children (April birthdays onwards) in a similar way to EAL and other groups. But monitoring alone isn't enough; there needs to be more provision and 1:1 support for the very youngest, age should be allowed for when grading/scoring the children in the Early Years, and there should be greater flexibility for those who really aren't coping to start school slightly later, or be kept down a year. Sadly the system as a whole is currently far too rigid.

Startail Fri 08-Mar-13 21:10:55

Confidence is very noticeable in DD2's class. 3 out of 4 of the oldest girls are the confident / chosen for everything group. The April onwards ones are much quieter.

Whether this is nature or nurture it's hard to tell. It's a small cohort and DD2 (feb) and her Dec partner in crime are the clever DDs of clever parents.

However, I'm not sure DD2, would be as out going if she hadn't been the youngest in the Y2/Y1 class and her best friends being in Y1/YR.

She had to grow up and at 12 it still shows

whistleahappytune Fri 08-Mar-13 22:24:28

Tenth, so good to see a teacher question the orthodoxy of test scores, target setting and the identification of "ability" in very young children. If only more teachers and HTs thought as deeply as you clearly have about the whole system.

I wish you taught my August born DD. Your pupils are very lucky.

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 22:51:46

All this "summer born children" stuff is a red herring IMHO. There may be so-called evidence to back up what they're claiming to be true but at the end of the day, you always have to look at the child as an individual.

I can only tell you about my own experiences with my late August born DS. He entred school at 4 years and 2 weeks old and was full time within 3 weeks. He never so much as looked over his shoulder once to to see where I was, whilst some of his Autumn born classmates were clinging to their mothers having to be, quite literally, peeled off them by classroom assistants.

He could read before he started school, I'd taught him, as soon as I thought he was able to take an interest, by going through phonic flashcards with him and this meant he didn't spend time doing any of the preliminaries that the others did in reception class and was able to move stright on to the reading scheme. So in that sense he was never held back by being a Summer born child.

He achieved well through primary school and finished the school gaining all 5s in his SATS. So again, no reason to feel that he was ever remotely held back by being a Summer born child.

He's now in Yr 8 at secondary school and still doing really well achieving target levels that predict he's on course for A*s and As at GCSE.

He's always been outgoing and confident too.

So all in all, I've no reason to think that he's been held back or has underachieved in his education as a result of going to school at just 4. On the contrary, he was more than ready to go to school when he did and was quite clearly far more ready than some children who were more or less a full year older than him.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 22:55:21

Rubyfoz - our school has dual intake still, Sep for the older group and Jan for the younger group, so my DD missed a term in Reception.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 22:56:45

Perriwinkle , with respect your child doesn't sound average.

Average summer borns do suffer with streaming.

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 23:09:22

Perhaps my child is not typical of all children born in late August but then not all children born in early September will be high fliers.

All I'm trying to say is that as a mother of a child born in late August I was interested in what my child was doing, not in reading surveys about what other children born in late August were doing. I was guided by my child. I was not about to label my child based on what other children born in late August had done in the past, or were likely to do in the future. I'd never have let this sort of thing affect my expectations of his progress at school.

Like it or not, there will be children born in late Summer who will achieve well at school, maybe way beyond the levels of those children born at times of the year that surveys like this would have us believe always puts them at a distinct advantage educationally.

Every child is a unique individual and should be viewed as such.

I don't find surveys of this nature that label children and "identify trends" in this way remotely helpful, either to parents or children.

It is more than a little naive to think that the only thing that determines a child's academic ability, confidence levels and social skills is the time of year they were born. There's an awful lot more to it than that.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 08-Mar-13 23:11:32

DS1 is set for maths and literacy already in Reception. He is a late-July born and is in the top group for both - and interestingly all bar one of the other children in the group are June onwards birthdays.

I do think that streaming from such a young age is wrong, no child should be labelled as worse at everything, because it simply won't be true.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 23:12:00

In reality in a class of 31, children are rarely viewed as individuals. Less confident, younger, more average children are forgotten.

duchesse Fri 08-Mar-13 23:14:44

DD2 is a 27th July. She's at a very selective school. For her first three years there she was the youngest by 2 months. The bulk of the girls were born in the first term -most of her classmates are already 16 and it's only early March.

I think that's quite telling.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 23:17:27

Streaming at such a young age is wrong however you look at it.

To label a child as not as capable as others at such a young age, for all to see, damaging their self esteem potentially for life, is horrific.

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