In Brief

Children born in summer ‘should get test scores boost’

October babies 30% more likely to go to secure Oxbridge place than their younger peers

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The exam scores of children born in summer should be weighted to make up for the disadvantage of being the youngest in their year group, a leading expert in social mobility is arguing.

“Teachers must consider maturity when grouping children into sets according to their achievement, and when marking. We hope this will address this unequal situation, which affects so many classrooms and children across the country,” says Lee Elliot Major, a professor of social mobility at Exeter University, in his newly published teaching guidebook What Works?

“There are far more autumn-born pupils in the top streams,” adds Major, who is urging teachers to monitor the progress of younger pupils in the same way that they would for other disadvantaged children. 

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Research published last year showed that younger children fall behind their classmates almost as soon as they start school. Among four- and five-year-olds, children born between June and August score an average of 7.5% less in maths tests than their older reception-class peers.

The study, conducted by education data analytics firm SchoolDash, shows a gradual narrowing of the gap as children progress through school, but it never disappears.

Indeed, October-born pupils are 30% more likely to secure a place at Oxford or Cambridge university than those born in July, The Times reports.

Summer-born children are also more likely to have lower self-esteem and special educational needs, and to exhibit risky behaviour, adds the newspaper.

In addition, research published last week suggests that children born in summer are more likely to suffer from depression than older pupils, says The Telegraph. The study, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that children born in the last quarter of the academic year had a 30% higher risk of getting depression compared with children born in the first quarter.

Postponing school entry for a year is a legal right for any child born between 1 April and 31 August, but many schools and local authorities discourage the practice. However, some studies have found that delaying a summer-born child’s entry to primary school has little impact on attainment.

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