Summer-born children ‘not ready for school at four’, says study

Summer-born children who start school at the age of four may suffer serious stress and anxiety that could damage their educational prospects, a new report argues.‘Birthdate Effects: A Review of the Literature from 1990-on’, published by the Cambridge Assessment, part of Cambridge University, says that developmental psychology suggests that children between the ages of four and five may not be ready for formal schooling.It says factors such as leaving familiar surroundings, facing separation from their parents and adapting to new routines could help to explain why children born in the summer perform less well overall in exams than those born in autumn or winter.

In a letter to Sir Jim Rose, who is conducting a Government-backed review into primary education, Tim Oates, group director of assessment research and development at Cambridge Assessment, called for urgent research into how best to remedy the birthdate effect.

Mr Oates said, ‘For years, evidence of a birth date effect has stared out of qualifications data; summer-born children appear to have been strongly disadvantaged. While those responsible for working on these data have, through mounting concern, periodically tried to bring public attention to this very serious issue, it has been neglected by agencies central to education and training policy.’

We have seen many children leave the nursery who were patently not ready to go to school. But when school is free how many parents will be prepared to keep for their child to stay on at nursery?

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