Cure for summertime blues?;Update

24th September 1999 at 01:00
The bad news is that yet another study confirms that summer-born children do less well than children born in the autumn.

The good news is that, according to the National Foundation for Educational Research, the summer-born "effect" tapers off as children get older. Previous research has shown that it lasts throughout schooling.

The new study finds that while at age six, the variation in attainment on standardised reading tests between the two groups is substantial, that difference is reduced by about a third by the time children reach age 12.

One reason the variation persists could be that children's academic status becomes typecast early in their school careers - both in their own minds and in those of teachers and peers. This, suggest the authors, coupled with the use of non age-adjusted tests, may make it difficult for summer-born pupils to break out of the low-achieving stereotype into which they have been cast. This suggests that it may take the clean slate they bring to secondary school to help them break the mould and catch up with their older classmates.

Dougal Hutchison and Caroline Sharp, National Foundation for Educational Research. Tel: 01753 574123.

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