Thousands of children born in the summer start school months – or even days – after their fourth birthday.
Many of these children who start school in the autumn term after their summer birthday are nowhere near ready.
And it has a knock-on effect. A Freedom of Information request has shown the chance of a student attending Oxford or Cambridge University is 30 percent higher for someone born in the autumn rather than the summer.
#asknickymorgan Will u let parents decide whether their summer born is ready for school at 4 instead of LAs that have never met the child?
— Words fail me (@_wordsfailme_) June 18, 2015
Children born in August are essentially a year behind many of their peers. Two children in the same year could be 364 days apart in age, which is a huge amount in terms of development. A child born on August 31 of one year is expected to be at the same level as a child born on September 1 the previous year.
Now, under new UK Government plans, children born between April 1 and August 31 will be able to start school a year later if their parents deem them unready.
Currently parents are able to hold their child back a year if they are not ready for school. However, come the following September, schools are reluctant to allow a five-year-old into reception (kindergarten) class and instead summer-children are propelled straight into Year One.
Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, claimed the Government does intend to update the admissions code. He looked over the code following results of an international literacy test published this week. The test showed September-born children outperform their August-born peers in literacy and reading by the time they reach age nine and 10.
The Telegraph reported earlier research revealed August-born children are 50 percent more likely to be labelled as having “special needs” than their earlier-born classmates.
“The issue of summer-born children is something that we are concerned about,” Gibb told The Telegraph.
Easy to spot the summer born kids on #educatingyorkshire – why pn earth is age the determining factor in what you're ready for at school?
— beth michael-fox (@bethmichaelfox) September 23, 2013
“I do accept there is a link between the month your child is born and academic results, particularly in the early years of primary school – and that’s why we want to give parents that option,” Gibb said.
“So we are looking now at the impact changing the admissions code will have on the system as a whole, and when the opportunity arises we will seek to change the admissions code to give parents more discretion over when their child will start school.”
Give parents the choice of when their child is ready to start school. Just turned 4yrs is just too young. #summer_born
— CottonCandyClothing (@thecottoncandyc) January 15, 2016
Joshua McGrane, from the University of Oxford, told The Telegraph the PIRLS results show England has a “unique” link between age and academic performance.
McGrane reported children born in September score an average of 36 points higher than their August-born peers.
“There is an interesting and somewhat unique result for England, where there is such a close relationship between the month you are born in, and your age within your grade level,” McGrane said.
The average score for children with birthdays in September was 575. For each month younger a child is, the average score steadily decreases. August babies averaged a score of 540.
DfE claimed ministers will be implementing the change to the admissions system.
If you are August-born and struggled through school, while it may be too late for you, take comfort in the knowledge August babies of the future could thrive.