A story in The Telegraph caught my eye this morning. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that summer born children are at a disadvantage throughout their time education lagging behind peers by the age of seven. My two eldest children are summer born – had the eldest been born two weeks later she would have been in the Year Group below. My children are academic high achievers and labelled as “gifted and talented” but only one teacher has ever mentioned the fact that they are summer born – making their achievement more notable.
I was a primary teacher for 14 years and during my training it was never mentioned that when considering a childs attainment the time of year they were born should be taken into consideration. Being nearly a whole year younger than the rest of the class makes a huge difference to attainment for most children. When teachers do not take into account the age of the child relative to that of their peers a child can be labelled as behind. A child can make a huge amount of progress in the space of a few months – going from being a non reader to a reader for instance, but our school system fails children when not taking all factors into account when assessing progress.
Children are ready for academic learning at different ages – I started one of my children in an Early Years Unit a whole six months later than her peers because I knew she was not ready for school. I took two of my children out of the system to home educate them because the one size fits all education was not working for them at that time. One child is still home educated the other starts back in a new school today
Parents must be empowered to take a more active role in deciding when their children start school – there is room for more flexibility in the system especially for summer born children. So parents – if the teacher is telling your child is behind and the child was summer born – ask them to think again!