Summer-born fall 19 points behind peers in early years

Pupils who are born in summer, receive free school meals or have special needs all perform worse in early years foundation stage profile, new DfE figures show

Child in reception

Summer-born pupils are performing significantly worse than their autumn-born peers at the end of Reception, new statistics show.

The proportion of four- and five-year-olds achieving a "good level of development" in the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) in 2019 varied by 19 percentage points, depending on which season they were born in, according to data released today by the Department for Education.

On average, 81 per cent of children born in the autumn achieved the benchmark, compared to 73 per cent of spring-born pupils and 62 per cent of summer-born pupils. 

The attainment gap between children receiving free school meals and their peers was also high, at 17 percentage points. An average of 57 per cent of pupils receiving free meals met the benchmark, compared to 74 per cent of children who don't.

And just 25 per cent of pupils with special education needs (SEN) achieved a "good level of development", compared to 77 per cent without.


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The attainment gaps are based on rounded averages. When unrounded averages are taken into account, the gap between summer-born and autumn-born children is 18.5 percentage points; for pupils receiving free school meals it is 17.8 percentage points; and for those with SEND, it is 52.8 percentage points.

Government statistics released last month showed that the proportion of four- and five-year-olds who are judged at a "good level of development" at the end of Reception had risen for the fifth year in a row.

In 2019, 71.8 per cent of pupils reached the Department for Education's early years foundation stage profile benchmark, up from 71.5 per cent in 2018.

The profile, which is based on teachers’ observations of their pupils, covers a wide range of children’s abilities and is broadly popular among practitioners.

To reach a "good level of development" children must have reached the early learning goal (ELG) in 12 of the 17 areas in which they are assessed.

These include being able to count to 20, read simple sentences and take turns when playing.

What is the early years foundation stage profile?

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) is the period of learning from birth to age 5 – before key stage 1 begins in Year 1.

The EYFS profile is an assessment of children’s achievements at the end of the Reception year – the last year of the early years foundation stage.

Children are assessed against 17 early learning goals. The child’s profile will include whether children are below, at or above these goals – known as emerging, expected or exceeding the level expected by the end of Reception year.

 The profile also includes a paragraph on how children demonstrate three “characteristics of effective learning” which are: playing and exploring, active learning and creating; and thinking critically.

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