Teachers urged to adjust results for summer-born pupils

2019-10-11

School teachers should adjust test scores of children born in the summer term to level the playing field, education experts have claimed.


Such a move would tackle the inherent disadvantage faced by pupils born between June and August, two leading academics have said in a new guidebook for teachers called ‘What Works? Research and Evidence for Successful Teaching’.


Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, and Steve Higgins, professor of education at Durham University, suggest teachers should assess a pupil’s progress relative to their age, rather than making classwide comparisons.


Younger pupils can lag behind their peers by the time they complete their GCSEs and various evidence suggests are more likely to be classified as having special educational needs (SEN) too.


The research claims that summer-born pupils are around six months behind their peers at the age of seven, and although the gap narrows, they are still one month behind by GCSE level.


Mr Elliot Major revealed that autumn-born pupils are far more likely to be placed in the upper sets or selected for talented programmes.


“Teachers must consider maturity when grouping children into sets or classes according to their achievement, and when marking,” he explained.


Parents can request to delay sending their children to reception year for a year, and the number of requests to do so has nearly doubled in recent years.


However, the academics have suggested that headteachers should not allow parents to do so, as it does not overcome the disadvantages that summer-born pupils can face.


The Department for Education launched a review into the topic in 2015 and said it has “given councils clear advice on how to support parents” in the period since.


A spokesperson for the DfE said the department is committed to ensuring that parents can “make the right choice for their child” and that policies are based on statistical data.


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