One of the problems plaguing the UK is our relatively low level of productivity per person. Some put the blame on education and say that the UK simply doesn’t spend enough money on our kids and then on training.

Employers complain about the lamentable standard of grammar and spelling from school leavers; as for maths, well they are putting 2 and 2 together, and concluding we need to do a whole lot better.

But here is a study to make you think. Maybe a partial solution could be to split the school year into two, one sub-set year for those born from September to February, and another for those born in the next six months.

At least, research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found kids born towards the end of the school year are at a big disadvantage.

The good news is that the gap narrows as the children age. But even when it comes to A-levels there’s still a noticeable difference.

Apparently, in recent key stage 1 tests – that’s for age 7 – 80.1 per cent of girls born in September reached the expected level, but only 53 per cent of girls born in August did.

By the time it comes to GCSEs, 50.3 per cent of boys born in September reached their expected grade, but only 44.2 per cent born in August did.

And finally, at A-level, 42.5 per cent of girls born in September reached their expected level, compared to 40.05 per cent born in August.

It’s all very unfair. It means school leavers, especially 16-year-old school leavers born in August, are at a big disadvantage.

The IFS said “Worryingly, we also find evidence that teachers and / or parents seem to be mistaking poorer performance as a result of age, for special educational needs: at age 11, August-born girls are 72 per cent more likely than September-born girls to be recorded as having non-statemented (less severe) special educational needs, and 25 per cent more likely to be recorded as having statemented (more severe) special educational needs. For boys, these figures are 46 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

Claire Crawford, one of the authors of the report, said, “This report highlights the penalty that August-born children face, simply because they are unlucky enough to have been born late in the school year. This cannot be acceptable on either equity or efficiency grounds, and urgent steps must be taken to eliminate this inequity.”

IFS’s remedy is to either ensure tests take account of the child’s age, or allow greater flexibility in entry and progression, perhaps making it quite common for children to re-sit a year. If you like this article, why not register for our daily newsletter? Or if you already receive the newsletter, then start spreading the news and tell your friends and colleagues. To register visit this link

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