Don't get me started on age

It is little wonder that there is such a wide attainment gap between bright children according to socio-economic background ("Poverty can set the brightest back by three years", 12 July). You mention the widely recognised factors - high-achieving children from affluent backgrounds going to top schools and affluent parents manipulating the system to maximise their children's attainment.

What you fail to mention, however, is the school starting age. With formal schooling beginning so early in Britain, these inequalities are inevitably exacerbated - as they are in all countries where early, runaway intellectual learning is a state-encouraged cultural norm. A significantly later start to intellectual and academic learning would go a long way to addressing this issue, and it would be interesting to see these data analysed with "school starting age by country" as an independent variable.

Yet the current regime in England of the Department for Education and schools inspectorate Ofsted still shows no sign of understanding that it is our early school starting age that is responsible for many of the identified ills of our schooling system.

Dr Richard House, Senior lecturer in early childhood studies, University of Winchester.

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