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Advice on dd repeating year 6 (premature late summer born)

(28 Posts)
mamamummata Thu 04-Oct-18 03:03:02


My DD is due to go to secondary next year but we are thinking of holding her back to repeat year 6. I wondered if anyone had any thoughts or experience to share to help me decide whether this would be appropriate in our case or if this could backfire and why, as it is hard to judge and there is no research that seems to focus on similar children that I can find (i.e not with special needs or disadvantaged backgrounds confounding the issue, summer borns specifically, uk education system, prematurity, or some combination of those!). She has an early august birthday but was 8 weeks premature, so should be an autumn born in the year below. I guess my major concern is one of fairness and I do think that she is a bright in some areas/average (as opposed to gifted) girl compared to age matched friends. I am concerned she is being somewhat disadvantaged by a school system that compares her to the standards expected of a child a year older, and I'm sure she isn't alone in that.

What I do wonder is if an average october child from the year below had started school in her year would they thrive and be average in that year or struggle to meet the standards? In other words would she still be a year behind for a reason other than developmental readiness and the complexity of the work versus her age, or is it due to something like her speed at acquiring the new content compared to her classmates?

She has been consistently 1 year to 6 months (the gap has narrowed a bit recently) behind her peers since the day she started. She has been assessed as having no special needs, no learning disabilities, no IQ test given that I'm aware of so no idea about that. It appears that she is working at her own developmental level and she is 'slower' than her classmates (except in reading, vocabulary and creative skills). So she doesn't really get extra support, and I worry being younger and consistently behind (and labeled as an underachiever) won't translate to career and exam success, and it seems a bit unfair if this is not due to learning disabilities but just being younger. Is she 'slow' because she is compared to someone born over a year sooner than her? Or is it a problem with her? I have no idea. I have been often told if she was in the year below she'd be well ahead for reading, and solidly average for maths, which would be fairly normal for what should have been a early october baby. Instead she is on bottom tables, except in reading where she is 'average', grouped with the naughty children and as she said 'is thick'. Her self esteem is rock bottom and ALL her friends are in the year below anyway, plus one summer born boy; she just prefers their play. The other children tease her and call her 'baby' (she is also small for her age.) I would assume intellectually she is fine, she seems average with good verbal intelligence, or surely she would be falling further behind rather than staying solidly where she has been for years compared to her cohort? (We have tried two different state schools but it made no difference to her progress despite one being ofsted outstanding, although moving school perhaps holds them back a little to begin with).

I worry that if she sits GCSEs in her current year group she will achieve Ds and maybe Cs, that could have been Cs and Bs or better if she had been allowed to follow her own timetable of meeting all the standards 6 months/a year behind her non premature (or naturally more gifted) classmates. She might even go to university. It just feels like if I put her down she has more chance of a fairer outcome, whether that materialises or not. Or am I hoping for something unlikely or counter intuitively not the case?

She's currently in the state sector but we are thinking of going private (i.e private juniors then to private secondary) as that's likely the only option to repeat a year and gives her a fresh start. For what it is worth her state school teacher supports the idea of putting her down a year simply because her progress has been so consistent and normal, but consistently behind in everything except reading where she is now solidly average. I know some children have to be 'slower', but I feel that really shouldn't be just because of when they were born versus the 'age appropriate' (or not in this case) standards they are judged against, and I suppose variations in teaching quality make a difference. I suppose I feel that exam performance should be a factor of their IQ and motivation, since exams change lives and are meant to be meritocratic, rather than relative age to the other test takers. I'm worried she won't be ready for GCSEs in the year she is expected to take them (remaining consistently behind for whatever reason) and needs the extra year to do her best (or even pass!). I'm all for age standardizing tests but that doesn't happen outside of 11+ entry, so that being a fantasy, repeating a year seems more practical?

She is apparently not bothered if she repeats as she typically makes her best friends in the year below (although it's difficult to tell if she has thought it through.)

OP’s posts: |
newcupcake Thu 04-Oct-18 03:32:50

I can see why you think what you do, but in reality by the time she has reached year 6 bring a summer born premature baby 11 years ago will really have no bearing on her current learning. She may say she doesn't
Mind doing an extra year now but in reality when she is waving goodbye to all her friends off to secondary school it will be a different story , school are v unlikely to agree as well .

Thesnobbymiddleclassone Thu 04-Oct-18 03:58:41

By the time they've reached year 6 the gap has closed between the winter vs summer born children.

There is always someone who is going to be a year younger than others as it's a school year and that's just how a year works.

As for GCSE. The secondary school she goes to would have known her for three years before she starts them and four years before she actually takes them. Plenty of time to get to know her and find the right support.

People hold their children back in reception as they don't really notice. In year 6, she'll know she is being kept behind and whether she tells you or not, will probably find that embarrassing and a confidence knock.

Seniorschoolmum Thu 04-Oct-18 04:03:43

Unless you are able to get a special needs statement, i’m Not sure even the private sector will accommodate you.
I also have an August born child - the same year as it happens- and he has been consistently the smallest in his class. He has also been behind on some things and is generally very “young” for his class.
I’ve spent time boosting his confidence, making sure he can swim & cycle with his class mates, supporting his homework and ensuring he reads for pleasure. He also does karate which allows him to be several grades ahead of his friends in one thing. He would be mortified if I asked him to repeat a year, it would equate to me telling him he wasn’t good enough.
What does your daughter think? The last thing you want to do is turn her off school by boring her.

celticmissey Thu 04-Oct-18 04:33:15

There is a boy in my daughter's school who was born 10 weeks prematurely. He was in a similar position to your dd academically and emotionally. He did the standard familiarisation week to the secondary he was about to start at just before the end of year 6 but found the week overwhelming in many ways. He is repeating his year 6 currently and is very happy with this decision.

theboxofdelights Thu 04-Oct-18 04:39:36

DD was born at 29 weeks, due date was September. She was emotionally immature for much of her primary school years but bright enough. She attends a selective school, is now in year 8. Thriving, top set and of her form in 3 subjects, bottom set for one.

She would be bored stiff if we had held her back.

AWhistlingWoman Thu 04-Oct-18 04:47:25

I’m so sorry your daughter is having a difficult time. I do sympathise, it is hard to watch your child struggle.

Did she have many complications associated with her premature birth? Sadly, an early birth can have long term effects and I think this is now starting to be recognised in the education sector

My daughter is also an August born premature baby, born 17 weeks early. She was very developmentally delayed but, despite the backing of her consultant, I could not get the state system to allow her rejoin her birth year. She is now two to three years behind academically, further socially. She has been lucky in that she has had pretty good speech therapy and occupational therapy provided in school. Repeating Year 6 is still not a consideration in the state system, apparently she would need to be even further behind than that and have an EHCP. Admittedly my daughter would not catch up academically by repeating one year, but she might have a chance to catch up a little socially. It feels like a bit of a ‘no brainer’ to me but I have learnt from long experience that it is far from simple to get anyone in the education system to agree to it! I am currently trying to come up with a plan alongside both sets of SENCOs to actually keep her physically safe at secondary school, I feel my five year old has more street smarts sadly!

Sorry to say that, in my experience, there is very little flexibility in the system when it comes to repeating years but it can’t hurt to ask. Maybe the private sector would be more accommodating?

Nonomore2 Thu 04-Oct-18 05:40:57

It’s a tough one. You can’t know for sure that repeating will help. But I suppose the question is, what are the disadvantages of repeating?
- that she might feel embarrassed?
- that she might feel you don’t think she is capable enough?
Are there other disadvantages for her or you?
If there were minimal disadvantages and I thought the two above were not relevant I would be tempted to do it for all the potential advantages.

theboxofdelights Thu 04-Oct-18 06:07:45

The state system doesn’t allow for repeating so you will need to commit to private education for the duration. I know someone who went the other way, their very bright child went up a year and stayed there until they had to return to the state system due to finances. She ad to drop back a year in year 8.

I personally would not hold her back. She hasn’t been assessed as requiring intervention and not everyone is going to find everything easy. As someone upthread said, someone is always going to be the youngest in the year.

AJPTaylor Thu 04-Oct-18 06:17:19

If you are moving to private, then yes. Do it. You have clearly given it a lot of thought and it makes sense.
My friends son (who does have special needs and is a 30th August birthday) repeated year 7 at secondary school. It helped him hugely. That was a very innovative suggestion by their senco.
So yes, if you do not have to battle the restraints of the state system absolutely go for it.

mysteryfairy Thu 04-Oct-18 06:25:29

I once went on a course as a school governor where it was said that it took to summerborns were 17 I.e. practically adult to close the gap. Obviously this is just a view but don't feel she should necessarily have caught up.

You would have to approach independent schools but in the foundation of schools my DC attended it was fairly common for DC to move up and down so again don't assume this will be refused.

If you and her teacher feel it is the right thing I'm not sure getting views from people who don't know your DD on here is going to help in your decision - the views you have are making it harder!

For what's its worth and ignoring potential improvement to academic success entirely it sounds like socially it would be the right decision for her.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 04-Oct-18 06:35:00

Have you asked the school whether they would accommodate this request?

Unless you do move her to a different school, you need to know whether it not it would be possible in her current school before you start seeking opinions.

PickleNeedsAFriendInReading Thu 04-Oct-18 07:05:44

I've known a few children who've done this when moving to the private sector, and it has been really good for them. It gave them extra time to settle in, and make progress with the year group, without feeling like they were falling further behind with the change of schools. the children were in support of the idea as well, as they knew that it was a different school system. It seems quite common, that people do it when changing to private schools.

I wish state schools would consider it more, as occasionally, it is the right solution.

donkeysandzebras Thu 04-Oct-18 07:12:11

I think it's a great idea but possibly the wrong time unless you have any private schools in your area which go through to 13 or where the junior & senior school is close in the way they work together. I am wondering whether joining a school for year 6 only may feel like a really temporary measure and neither she nor her classmates nor, possibly, her teachers will take the time to really get to know how, learn how to motivate her as it will all be about what is happening next year and which school the children are off to next.

Neolara Thu 04-Oct-18 07:17:10

I know a couple of kids with late Aug birthdays who moved into the private sector and down a year. For them it has been hugely successful.

For those saying the effects of month of birth disappear by the end of primary, this is simply not true. Research suggests the effects in exam results are evident all the way up to undergraduate level.

I have one July born dc and one Sept born dc. School has been considerably harder for the "young" dc, especially socially.

OP - In your situation, provided your dd was happy with the idea, I would definitely move your dd down a year.

Soursprout Thu 04-Oct-18 07:28:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eddielizzard Thu 04-Oct-18 07:32:47

It depends on the child as to whether they catch up and how soon. It doesn't sound to me like your DD is very happy in her class, and confidence is so important.

Would your school let her repeat the year? Given that her teacher supports the idea, would it be worth moving her to the year below now?

FVFrog Thu 04-Oct-18 07:36:01

The private school system will be able to accommodate you. You know your child best, and your DD is old enough to have a conversation with you about what her options. If you want to stay in state there is much less flexibility, but Ed psych assessment may be helpful, or at least meeting and getting their input (you will prob have to pay for this also).
We desperately need more flexibility in our school system for this type of situation. Good luck!

MaruMaru Thu 04-Oct-18 08:07:39

I would have expected things to even out by Year 6 with summer borns, but perhaps this is different due to her prematurity. She is now in her 7th year of schooling and has had the same education as all the other children.
If you are going to privately educate her, the private schools might be more amenable to her having repeated a year ( a whole year just repeating the same work!!!!) but , in the state sector, I think it means she will have to skip Year 7 and go straight to her correct age cohort in Year 8. Now that I definitely would not recommend.
Rather than repeat a year, can you get her a little extra help at home with her 'weaker' subjects???

TeenTimesTwo Thu 04-Oct-18 08:30:35

If you feel it is right and you can get a private school to support it, then go for it.

My DD was prem, but born in Sept. She 'presents' as if she is a young summer born. She would be better off in the year below too but as a Sept born that's never going to happen.

A consolidation year solidifying on core skills and being at same maturity of peers could do wonders for her self confidence, which could pay benefits at secondary level.

eddielizzard Thu 04-Oct-18 08:32:01

With private school, think carefully on that. It depends on the private schools in your area. If she goes into Y6 again at a new school she'll be jumping straight into prep for the 11+ and that won't be very much fun. Unless the school goes up to 18 or 13 in which case that won't be an issue.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 04-Oct-18 08:35:17

One analogy I have read about being prem is this.

Imagine you are building a machine and it takes 9 months to build.
Someone comes along and says you have to start using the machine after only 7 months. Now the machine is being used and you are trying to finish it along side. The machine doesn't work properly, and it is difficult to get in there and finish it off because it is being used. so the whole thing takes longer to complete and may never be quite as good as it would have been.

PiperPublickOccurrences Thu 04-Oct-18 08:35:46

Will they even let you do this? In Scotland it's fairly normal to defer the youngest children, and repeating years isn't unheard of. But it's usually done when the child is 6 or 7 rather than 10 or 11.

I think the older children in the year always have a huge advantage. Yes someone has to be the youngest, but it's definitely not going to be one of mine.

ChilliMum Thu 04-Oct-18 09:12:04

We are not in the UK so not exactly what you are looking for but due to the way our village school works classes are mixed (Not enough kids for a whole year group class) so my son is in a class with the youngest of his year and oldest of the year below.

Honestly I thought it was awful when I first saw it but actually it has been the making of my son.

He has gone from being one of the youngest and struggling (Not compared to expectation but compared to his peers) to being one of the oldest and excelling in his class.

2 years ago he would sob over homework and tell me he was stupid and couldn't do it. Now he really believes he is good at school. The work is not easier for him, he still does exactly the same as his peers in the year above but he doesn't compare himself to kids who are a year older so sees his efforts in a more positive light.

I think we really underestimate the psycology of confidence and self belief. Ds has made leaps in the last year because he now believes he is clever and can do it so will work harder compared to before when his belief that he would never be as good as his peers caused him to give up at the first hurdle.

If you can find a school that will allow your dd to repeat I think you should give her the opportunity.

AWhistlingWoman Thu 04-Oct-18 09:19:31

I like that analogy teen - I honestly don’t think my DD will ever be able to outrun her premature birth. Although it is hard to attribute any issue directly to being born so early, I do believe a lot of her issues are due to be born so early, some of the complications she had and some of the treatments she had to have (prolonged ventilation etc) to ensure that she survived.

Wish it was more widely recognised by the education system, I do seem to know of more surviving 22, 23 and 24 weekers these days.

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