Children born in the summer suffer for being the youngest members of class. A study by the Department for Education has found that children born in August, nearly a full year younger than their oldest classmates, are less likely to achieve 5 A*-C GCSE grades, take A levels or go to university.
The findings have led some academics to suggest children are being pushed into formal education too early and should be allowed to develop at their own pace, starting compulsory schooling around age 6 or 7. This contradicts the idea put forward by former School Secretary Ed Balls, who said that children should start school at 4 to give them longer to master the basic skills.
At the age of 5, September-born pupils where found to be twice as likely to reach the expected levels of basic development as those born in August the following year. The trend continued through to exams at age 11, GCSEs and to a lesser degree, A-levels.
“To put this in context,” the report said, “10,000 summer-born children per year fail to achieve the standard at GCSE, which influences their chances of progressing to A-levels and beyond, purely because they are the youngest pupils sitting the GCSE examinations due to the timing of their birth and the school year.”
The survey also said that summer-born children had a higher risk of being bullied or being registered as special needs.
However, it is unclear how to solve this problem as changing the cut off date to another month will not stop some children being nearly a full year younger than the oldest members of their class.