Summer babies do less well academically in part due to streaming.

(260 Posts)
TwistTee Fri 08-Mar-13 09:42:40

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21699054

I read this article with great interest and much concern. My 4 yr old daughter, born at the end of August already shows some signs of a lack of confidence and poor concentration when compared to the older kids in her class. Not surprising as some of them are almost a whole year older.
It worries me that she could potentially always be behind and I often question if we made the right decision in starting her schooling at age 4.
I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences of summer babies in this context. Any tips on confidence issues?
And does anyone have a view on the issue of streaming as mentioned in the article? Her school are about to sort the kids but have not yet decided how. Her teacher said they might do it by age, ability or random. I was keen on the former as it would mean she stays in a class of 20 as opposed to a class of 30.

Grinkly Mon 18-Mar-13 01:47:58

But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school

Well that makes sense - the older ones do a bit better than the rest , the younger ones do a bit worse and it evens out on average that a child will do best overall.

But obviously doesn't cater for the wee Aug born but is fine for the Feb.

reawakeningambition Thu 14-Mar-13 12:26:59

yes I think that's right Bonsoir. A friend also year deferred - her son had a similar profile to mine. After a couple of years, the school were begging her to move him up to his default year - he was too far ahead at maths but not mature enough to cope with being the "cleverest".

But again, they offered flexibility, not a one-size-fits-all solution

Anyway, all this has freaked me out a bit, so I've called up Bradford to make sure my year-deferred child won't be forced to miss year 6. The answer: "of course not - why would we do that to him?" reinforces everything we've both been saying I think.

Bonsoir Thu 14-Mar-13 10:13:16

reawakeningambition - every case is different and there will always be some exceptional cases where being out-of-year is the right thing for an individual child. But they are that: exceptions. It is of course very difficult to know when a child is young how it will all "turn out in the wash", whichever decision is made.

reawakeningambition Thu 14-Mar-13 10:08:51

Bonsoir, I hear your testimony about your experience and that of your sister. My uncle's life has been similarly damaged after being sent up to Cambridge at the age of 16 (ridiculous). But you need to bear in mind that, for some infants, being placed in their default year would result in an experience very similar to the one your sister had.

If DS2s' secondary school were to make him jump 6 year now, we would again end up with similar problems to your sister. Does that mean I should have sent him to school at 4? No, I would not think so for a single moment. Because at 4 we bump into an absolute fact - he couldn't access the curriculum. So you can't project to 18 and work backwards with a child. You have to look at 3 and 4 year olds and accept that some of them are not at a stage where it is in their interests to join the default year - they need more time.

To put it another way, the "bored" able September-born problem (that you and your sibling faced) is totally different in kind to that of the 3.11 year old August-born who will not be able to access the reception curriculum in a month. The September-born's problems would be solved by excellent teaching and adequate funding, whereas bumping her up a year is a cue for social struggles (which I think is what you are indicating about your family's experience and certainly has been in my uncle's case). The 3/4 year old who cannot access the curriculum yet but might still even out needs their peer group adjusting, and they need time.

Thankfully, DS2 should be able to stay in his offset year provided we remain in Bradford LEA. He has no idea that we made a decision about his year-group. He wasn't conscious enough at 4 to have any sense of what was happening. Socially, year 2 is his correct year - his skills fall roughly within the year2 level, not within the year 3 level. But we know that this was the right decision because, after the "extra" year (or extra 11 days, really), he has kept pace with his adjusted peer group at all times.

duchesse Wed 13-Mar-13 21:50:04

My nephew in France (now aged just 15) jumped a class at the end of maternelle. Since he went to secondary school, this has become more and more of a problem as he doesn't have the maturity to have the workload in a sensible way, especially as he has coasted through with average marks without needing to work. He's just realising now that maybe he needs to stretch himself a bit and do better. My sister has had to coax him a lot and I think she is regretting having allowed him to jump a class, even though she did it with very good and particular reasons in mind.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 19:32:41

reawakeningambition - even if it is done at the start, I think that problems can arise later on and it is really hard on DC to repeat a year if they have been ahead. I have very strong feelings on this matter as both my sister and I were bumped up a year very early on. My sister, who is December-born, stayed in the year above her correct-for-age year all the way through and bitterly regrets it (despite Cambridge degree, MA and PhD) whereas I, as June-born child, was made by a school I moved to when we moved house to repeat a year (fortunately early on - I was mighty bored). My DP also got bumped up a year before entering primary and stayed a year ahead until he was 14, when school insisted on him repeating. He hated it, though admitted it was absolutely the right thing - he had found primary school very easy but every year in secondary became more of a struggle. Perhaps unsurprisingly we have quite a few "year ahead" friends and they none of them ever want their own DC to go through that. Many of our friends have had problems arise much later in life due to maturity issues that weren't sorted in adolescence...

Both of mine are late summer born and DS1 was way behind for the first couple of years in school because he took a long time to master reading which impacts on your ability to access other subjects. Now in Yr5 he has largely caught up.

In fact their birthdays were one of the reasons I went down the private school route because I thought the smaller classes would be an advantage. The school doesn't set formally until Yr6 I assume because it isn't problematic differentiating on an individual basis if you have 15 children to one teacher and one TA. The other thing that the school does is to mix up the classes each year (3 classes per year group) so in-class groups are split up. Because the classes are small, everyone gets to be star of the week and everyone gets to speak in class assemblies.

I agree that setting is only worthwhile if it is fluid and based on current acheivement levels. If DS1 had been put in a stream in Yr1 and that level had defined his school career from thereon it would have failed him hugely.

reawakeningambition Wed 13-Mar-13 15:01:36

"But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school. "

Interesting Bonsoir.

I think if you're going to take children outside default year groups, it's best do it at the start. No-one thinks of DS2 as a child how "ought" to be in Year 3 - they've all forgotten he ever could have been....and he isn't yet aware of it.

LaQueen Wed 13-Mar-13 13:50:49

I agree with WF. I do think some atributes are fixed at birth.

Even at nursery DD2 was showing an uncanny aptitude for numbers/maths - the staff regularly commented on it. I genuinely think this was something she was born with, and inherited from DH, who was exactly the same.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 10:38:18

The debate about "redoublement" (repeating a year at school) as well "le saut de classe" (jumping a year) rages as always in France, the world champion of the practice. Parents are very attached to the idea that their own DC will do better a year ahead or a year below his/her calendar intake, and teachers love the system as it removes responsibility from teachers for a child's progress in a particular yeargroup.

But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school.

cory Wed 13-Mar-13 10:24:35

When I was a child in Sweden, the parents of any child who was near the dividing line between different year groups were allowed to choose whether their child should start school at the earliest opportunity or defer to the next year.

My parents felt that I was quite precocious mature so let me start when I was 6.5 and the youngest in my year: their neighbours felt their son was a bit young for his age, so he started at 7.5 as the oldest in his year. Neither of us stood out or were perceived as different- we were only a few weeks older/younger than the next oldest/youngest in our year, after all.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 10:03:02

Yes, I agree, wordfactory. Like all facets of human nature, there is a certain potential fixed at birth and we will achieve our own personal maximum potential if we apply ourselves and practice (if given the opportunity to do so) but we cannot work miracles. I could have trained with the world's best trainers for hours a week but I would never, ever have got anywhere as an athlete!

lainiekazan Wed 13-Mar-13 09:42:29

But also the idea that the "bottom table people" are all wronged souls who are just bursting to demonstrate their latent ability but are condemned to the lowest table by malicious or indifferent teachers is no less ludicrous.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 08:39:34

I suspect there might be fixed IQ - perhaps within bands? But much of a pupils academic career owes as much to application as raw intelligence. For example DDs triple science set has bumped anyone lazy because although it is not particularly difficult it is incredbily fast paced. The girls have to be prepared to graft.

whistleahappytune Tue 12-Mar-13 20:55:41

lainie you talk as if "brainpower" is some kind of fixed static unchangeable state, like having red hair. Intelligence is rather more complicated that that. The idea that some people are "bottom table people" is as ludicrous as it is wrongheaded.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 18:47:48

5 classes (125 children) per year group

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 18:47:11

I don't like the mishmash of teachers business. This is what we end up with at DD's school: there are 5 French classes of (average) 25 pupils (and they are streamed) and 6 English sets (English is 1/4 of the day). That means that there are 30 possible teacher combinations for 125 pupils (that is not counting specialist music or sport teachers or, from next year, Spanish which is also setted but not everyone does it). Each year, all the pupils in the French classes are mixed up and "restreamed" and there is some movement in English, too, as the classes vary wildly in size for no better reason than classroom size. And that means that, as the DC move up the school, no two DC ever have exactly the same teacher combinations. My DD has one friend who has had the same teacher combinations as her for the past four years. That is typical. And so basically the number of teacher combinations means that they don't know one another, never meet to discuss pupils current status let alone progress... It's a managerial nightmare. I completely understand the reasons behind it and all sounds very fair but actually the reality is that pupils' progress is barely monitored and, unless you get a really good teacher (as DD has for French this year), it's very hard to get any decent feedback.

lainiekazan Tue 12-Mar-13 17:38:23

If every child in the class has exactly the same brainpower, then I don't doubt that the summer dcs would probably be on the bottom table, especially in Yr R/1.

But they don't have the same brainpower. Some pupils are bottom table people, whether they are born on 1st September or 31st August. And although sitting on the Circle table (or Red table, Elephants etc etc) might dent their confidence, whaddayado? Mix up the tables randomly? They'll sink and the abler ones will get frustrated. Whole class teaching? Then it's back to the 70s and before and the less able ones will be daydreaming and fidgeting at the back.

Also I can't imagine any school limits movement between tables. Dd started school at 4 years 2 days and couldn't read a word. In fact wouldn't read a word for an entire year. Refused point blank to try. Was she condemned to a career on the bottom table? Of course not.

Taffeta Tue 12-Mar-13 17:21:13

Re setting/streaming, we have both! So the class is streamed according to ability, social and emotional development at the beginning of the year, but there are still different settings within the class for numeracy and literacy.

So they are being taught by a mishmash of people.

I really value the point made about ability/potential vs current achievement. I am hoping that everything comes to he who waits. smile

Perriwinkle Tue 12-Mar-13 17:01:26

Does it still show when you're 45? confused

MerryCouthyMows Tue 12-Mar-13 16:31:46

I think that it DOES show during Early years, right up until around Y4-Y5 ish, when it mostly levels off.

Though having said that, my DD's friends, who have the same SN's as her, who have had exactly the same amount of support as DD, through Primary (very little support there mind you) and Secondary (far more support), are NOT achieving the same sort of grades as my DD - DD is getting D-G's, they are getting F-U's.

The only real difference? Their birthday is August 29th, DD's is early March.

So it probably DOES make a difference, even in Y10, even with all other variables being the same.

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 15:26:42

I agree bonsoir.
It is much easier for everyone to look at achievement and decide the student is clever or able or whatever.

And lots of people (teachers and parents included) buy into it.

I was very lucky that DC's teachers accepted that age may play a factor. My DC were certainly not written off as low ability. It was simply accepted that being so young and being prem babies would impact upon their initial achievement.

I thik it's been a bit of a revelation to a few parents though wink.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 15:19:11

I think schools have a hard time measuring ability though. It's so much easier to measure achievement, and it is often used as a proxy for ability/potential.

There is a boy in my DD's year whose mother I know well. He is a late December-born (equivalent to August-born in UK) child who was put on a "low/middling" track at school and there was lots of talk of him being less clever than his bright spark of an older sister.

This year, his class teacher suggested to the mother that she have him tested (WISC-IV). Turns out he has an IQ of over 150... His achievement isn't great because he has never needed to apply himself to anything at all to "get by" and the assumption was quickly made that, as a December-born, he should struggle. It is somewhat awful that it took over 5 years at school for anyone to think anything odd might be going on.

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 12:45:03

Ob yep, this is why we're having DD1 tutored for the 11+ this September.

She went into Yr 5, on all Level 5s, so she's clearly a clever girl. But, she simply can't feel that, herself? One of her friends is in 2 maths groups lower than DD1, yet DD1 assumes her friend is better than her at maths (mainly because her friend is very self confident, I think?).

So, we're having her tutored to give her more confidence - but, I'm not convinced it's working? Her work has come on in leaps and bounds - especially in maths, she's racing through algebraic sequences with her tutor, and she's won several maths merits recently...but, she still doesn't think she's good at maths?

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 12:40:44

WF yes, absolutely. And, I think far more children will rise to the challenge, than many teachers/parnets give them credit for.

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