Best Practice

Summer-born pupils: What’s the evidence?

Government policy
The government recently decided to give the parents of summer-born children the right to delay their child’s entry to reception. Jack Worth considers the implications of this policy, its potential impact on disadvantaged families, and other possible alternatives

For decades, research has found large differences in test scores between autumn-born and summer-born pupils in attainment at school (1).

The differences are evident at the earliest ages and remain (though are smaller) at GCSE and A level, and in further and higher education too (2).

The artificial advantage given to autumn-born pupils in tests of educational attainment can have an impact on their wellbeing at school, and matters for pupils’ later outcomes.

There are, of course, other characteristics which affect attainment – in particular, coming from a disadvantaged background (which has a much larger effect on attainment than month of birth), having an SEN, and gender. However, many consider the lottery of birth date to be particularly unfair, and one which has not been properly addressed in our education system.

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