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August children..

Eddie Mair | 17:28 UK time, Wednesday, 20 August 2008

in England and their counterparts from different months elsewhere in the UK. You heard Kim's report. What do you think?


  • 1. At 5:36pm on 20 Aug 2008, NunheadCarol wrote:

    I have a brother born at the end of August, and he is the only one of the four of us to get a first class degree.
    Either he is the brightest, or he was used to trying harder - who knows?

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  • 2. At 5:40pm on 20 Aug 2008, emumac wrote:

    I have two August children - 17 and 14 a few days ago - and they are both very high achievers. The eldest hasjust got straight As in her AS level exams. I think there are many causes of success and failure at school. Teaching quality, parental expectation and genetics all play at least some part, but the credit must go to the students. Having said that, I like to think my own commitment to the girls schooling, nutrition and pastoral care had some effect!

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  • 3. At 5:40pm on 20 Aug 2008, jollyjennyblogger wrote:

    My daughter has a july birthday. We moved from England to Scotland just before she turned 4. As a result she had an extra year in Nursery before starting school, aged 5. She benefitted enormously from this extra year - she had had mild speech and hearing problems and this extra year helped sort that out and she started school full of confidence. I am so glad she was able to do this - I know she would have struggled if she had started when she was 4.

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  • 4. At 5:41pm on 20 Aug 2008, Annie-Chris wrote:

    Every child is different.
    My son, born 19 August, was always well up with the older children in his year. He left school aged nearly 18 with the best A-level results in the whole school: 4 grade As and 2 grade 1s in special papers.
    He took a first degree at Cambridge and a D.Phil at Oxford; now he has an important job in investment banking.
    So you see, age isn't the main criterion.
    Children should be placed in a class according to their ability.

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  • 5. At 5:42pm on 20 Aug 2008, CatherineVG wrote:

    My daughter relishes being the youngest in the class and despite this is actually a year ahead in her work. she has also recently achieved a high merit in her ballet exam despite taking the exam earlier than she should so being an August baby has not held her back at all!

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  • 6. At 5:44pm on 20 Aug 2008, Purlrae wrote:

    My son was born on August 31st. I managed to get his start at primary school delayed by a term, but he has struggled throughout his school career. He had school phobias in primary and secondary school and has been horribly bullied at secondary school. This has culminated in a full-blown anxiety disorder which will may cost him his GCSEs as for long stretches he has been too anxious to leave the house at all, therefore has missed a lot of school, and for a time had to be seen at home by an NHS counsellor.
    I wish the whole thing had been delayed a year. And if I could have delayed it myself, all those years ago, I would have!

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  • 7. At 5:44pm on 20 Aug 2008, seth1982madrid wrote:

    I was born in December, so was on the positive side of things - although I can't remember feeling the benefit at the time, nor in hindsight either. My first point is that as a Fencer the cut off dates were different - if I was born just before the acedemic cut off I would have been among the oldest rather than the youngest. The advantage here is clear as a 17 year old competing against a 19 year old rather at a 15 year old. Secondly, I think parents should have more rights concerning the education of their children. Has it been shown to be harmful to hold children back from starting school? Or rather has it been shown to be an advantage to keep the current system? When will we live in a techocracy?

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  • 8. At 5:45pm on 20 Aug 2008, Decembermum wrote:

    My son turned 5 on 3rd August having already spent a year at school. At our meeting with his teacher at the end of the summer term she said that he is now ready to start school and that he would do really well if he were starting in Reception this September. In addition to having an August birthday he is disadvantaged by being both a boy and left handed and, had we the choice, we would have no hesitation in keeping him in Reception for another year. I feel that parents of children with birthdays in July and August should be given the choice of starting them at school when they are only just 4 or waiting a year and starting them in the Reception class when they are 5.

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  • 9. At 5:45pm on 20 Aug 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Is that August or august?

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  • 10. At 5:46pm on 20 Aug 2008, augustborn wrote:

    Having a late August birthday I started school a year late. The local education authority didn't seem to care/notice, although I did skip a year later up the school to catch up with my peers.

    Educationally I don't think I suffered: best A' Level results in the county, top distinction on my Oxford MSc... and all from a relatively "bog standard" comprehensive.

    Oh and I'm the thick one - you should see how my twin brother did!

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  • 11. At 5:49pm on 20 Aug 2008, SaraG1 wrote:

    Our daughter was born a month early at the of August. We knew when she started school that she wasn't ready and indeed a subsequesnt assessment showed that she has global delay of several months. We deliberately chose a private school for her thinking that this would give us the opportunity for her to repeat her Reception year if necessary, which she did. Obviously it depends on the chiid but there needs to be some flexibility. She is doing well and is in absolutely the correct year group.

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  • 12. At 5:51pm on 20 Aug 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Drat. No I didn't hear it. And iPlayer is still U/S so I probably never will.

    I'm an August child (or was) and have just turned (a large round number). Is there anything I should know?

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  • 13. At 5:52pm on 20 Aug 2008, dryad55 wrote:

    As an August baby myself, my best friend at school was 11 and 1/2 months older than me and far more advanced and confident.When l had 2 August born sons,l decided to change their birthdays to September for school purposes only.As l was never asked for their birth certificates,l was never challanged.l did this as a result of the rigid system,here the children have to fit in to the system.In Australia where my eldest was at school,(for a couple of years) it was discussed with the parents at the end of the school year, if it was felt they needed to repeat a year,they did.On return to this country,l was so frustrated at the inflexibility that l took the opportunity when they started a new school to change their birth dates, as a parent l felt l had a right to do this.Incidently, at my sons last school,the headmasters son was in his class,he had the same birth date as my son...so that said it all

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  • 14. At 5:58pm on 20 Aug 2008, thelooking1 wrote:

    Im an August person , and i have found that sometimes you do feel a bit behind with understanding things , but thats seems to matter alot less in college and Uni , thier are other who I know in august who have done well at many of thier grades .

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  • 15. At 6:05pm on 20 Aug 2008, Georgia wrote:

    I'm a May birthday.

    During my first year at university I could see a difference between me and students in my year born before Christmas, and a similarity between me and those born the year below before Christmas.

    I think in an academic situation you're always conscious of the fact that you're younger or older than your peers. It's what defines what you can and can't do during the year (driving and drinking - not together of course! - are important when you turn 17 and 18), and things like becoming an adolescent, which can have a serious effect on your confidence. This is even before anyone assesses your academic abilities!

    Isn't there a way of changing the academic year to make Spring and Summer birthdays the oldest for a while?! :)

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  • 16. At 6:10pm on 20 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Dryad's got it about right! Good on you!

    I lost time in my first year due to illness, and thus started again the next year. I never thought it a disadvantage, and it may well have been an advantage. Let's just say, I did OK. I was usually ahead of the curve.

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 17. At 6:20pm on 20 Aug 2008, hgsaugustbaby wrote:

    I too am an August baby and have been through University and postgraduate studies and have achieved all sorts of things in my life. There are lots of things I can't do, though.
    My daughter is also an August baby, achieved 5s in her KS2 SATS last year and has just completed a very successful first year at Secondary school.
    This is just another way of labelling our children - something that we should avoid at all costs, but which seems to happen increasingly often nowadays.

    How many studies have been done for the "underachievement" of children born in September? And children at 5, 6, 7 and 8 develop at incredibly different rates from each other - often dictated by the quality of teaching, the position in the family, the encouragement of parents, the sex of the child, etc etc.

    A point to note - one of the contributors to the programme said that children can repeat a year of school in other countries. Yes, you can "redouble" in France and Belgium and elsewhere on the continent, but it is considered to be a distinct underachievement, and to be avoided at all costs. It is also extremely boring and does nothing to help self-esteem or future self-confidence. People I have known whose children might have to "redouble" have employed tutors pdq to avoid this.

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  • 18. At 6:49pm on 20 Aug 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    I do hope the English system is revised, as not all children cope well with starting school at 4. It's time the ''one size fits all'' approach is ditched, especially as it completely goes against the claims in all the formal curriculum documents that each child will be respected as an individual and have their particular needs addressed.
    I wish this Government would read its own publications, and act on them.

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  • 19. At 6:53pm on 20 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Funnily enough (I just remembered), after spending all those years a year older than my peers, I skipped the final year of secondary school and went straight to Uni a year "early"...

    (I then took six years to finish my first four-year degree, but that had more to do with drink and other immaturities...)

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  • 20. At 7:25pm on 20 Aug 2008, scarborotown wrote:

    My wife and I both have August birthdays. We both went to University and got degrees. In sport, I captained Sheffield University in Rugby League and also played for Yorkshire Universities in the 'Roses Match' in 1970. We agree that the challenge of 'a late start' spurred us on - in the long run. Both teachers until recently, we know we were lucky - we've seen many August children struggle!

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  • 21. At 7:30pm on 20 Aug 2008, RJMolesworth wrote:


    Some would say....

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  • 22. At 7:40pm on 20 Aug 2008, U11235707 wrote:

    Being from a poor district, we had to eat the smaller ones in order to supplement our diets; and if you failed the 3-Rs, you were summarily executed.

    We had the best SATs results in the country!


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  • 23. At 8:50pm on 20 Aug 2008, zeolotteacher wrote:

    In the area of Special Needs teaching it has long been known that the majority of children referred for support are summer birthday boys. Also boys of multiple births (twins and more) are "at risk" of developmental delay where the other baby is a girl. In my view we need a flexible system to take into account all the variations of development. All summer birthday boys do not need extra time or support. In my view the Foundation Stage of learning through play should be extended to the end of the Reception Year. An assessment should be done at that point and children not equiped to cope with the formal learning of Year 1 should be able to enjoy a further year of the Foundation Stage as "developmental catch up time". Sociallly deprived children (especially with summer birthdays) often have speech and language delay such as to impair their learning. I have been writing letters to suggest this for some years now but no one eems to want t listen to a humble teacher of children with difficulties. i`m very glad that at last, the problem is being considered by the very sensible Jim Rose.

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  • 24. At 9:04pm on 20 Aug 2008, Mummycherub wrote:

    Clearly there are always many factors that affect your education, but a trend is what it is..a trend.
    You could argue that the oldest children in the year could be disadvantaged because they are more then ready for school and might be held back or bored when thet do start. Not all schools I am sure will manage the levels gap as effectively as I hope they would.
    My daughter is starting school in September and will be 5 before she starts, she is more than ready and I am hoping that the school harnesses her interest and she has a positive experience of school from the outset. I fear that this is where many children are let down and what could be a very positive experience turns into a nightmare for some children because they are emotional not mature enough to cope with starting school.

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  • 25. At 9:48pm on 20 Aug 2008, Jimdrumz wrote:

    I was born in July, and although I was tall from an early age, on reflection other boys at school had a not insignificant advantage both in their physical development and their cognitive capacity. When you are aware of this it can hinder your self confidence and self esteem. My educational and academic progress was unquestionably stunted by this and not at all helped by the antiquated teaching methods and attitudes that I experienced in my education (in the late 1970's). Through sheer self determination, I am now educated to postgraduate level and clinically qualified, but I had been born earlier in the academic year (and given the appropriate level of support on a consistent level) I truly believe I could have achieved so much more.

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  • 26. At 9:54pm on 20 Aug 2008, Jimdrumz wrote:

    Are the comments I left still being post-moderated?

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  • 27. At 10:07pm on 20 Aug 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    Our eldest has just turned 8 and so is one of youngest in class. The good thing is there are 8 out of 29 August born kids in her class. So its quite obvious the difference between the Young end and the older end of her class. Our Youngest is just starting full time school and is a september child. So whilst you can not compare children with each other it will be intersting to see at what points the youngest hits certain targets.

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  • 28. At 11:16pm on 20 Aug 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Annie-Chris @ 4 is spot on: all children are different. Or maybe that ought to be 'each child is different'... :-)

    Baby books are careful to say 'your child should start to do [this that or the other] some time between x months old and y months old', with a gap of as much as a year between x and y; why on earth should it be assumed that somehow between birth and their fourth birthday they all reach the same stage of development? One child of four may be raring to go to school, another may revert to bed-wetting and panic at the very notion, and have to be helped through screaming fits every day for weeks before school starts in the mornings.

    This whole 'start school at four' thing is new anyhow: my mother started school when she was nearly seven (late November birthday), I started school on my fifth birthday (in mid-September). How do the schools on the continent of Europe manage? I seem to remember envying young French and Germans because they didn't have to go to school for at least a year more than we poor English sufferers had to. Are they still being sensible about not starting school until six or even seven, and are they drastically 'behind' us in scholarship?

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  • 29. At 08:54am on 21 Aug 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    I think these differences are most critical at two stages of the child's educational career. Firstly, in the primary years, development is taking place on an almost monthly basis (hence an eleven month 'gap' is a large gap between different children in a single class). Then at secondary level there is the period covered, largely, by Years 8 to 10 when children are going through the stages of pubescence, which happens at a very individual level and can lead to great variations of emotional maturity within a single class. This can impact hugely upon such things as attention and attitude in a classroom.

    To a great extent, none of this can be accommodated entirely within the educational system. At present, though, there is no mechanism in the British system to help overcome some of the problems presented by these variations in individual development. If Mr. Knight can provide such a mechanism, I'd be all for it. But a word of warning: it would need to be applied in such a way that children within cohorts are not stigmatised if they are given extra support, or if they are allowed to change classes.

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  • 30. At 08:57am on 21 Aug 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the fifth of July. My mother should have tried harder.

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  • 31. At 09:56am on 21 Aug 2008, littleFluffyFi wrote:

    My son was born in August and therefore started reception class about 2 weeks after he turned 4. He struggled all through Reception, and definitely lacked the maturity he needed to start school, and as someone else pointed out being a boy (and an extremely active one at that) was also a factor in his initial struggle. Studies do seem to indicate that boys maturity levels are not so high as girls at that stage - and they are not as interested in sitting down practising writing etc whereas girls generally are. Year 1 has been much better for him - he has made a great deal of progress but is still miles behind the more advanced pupils in his class. My partner, who also has an August birthday, was extremely concerned about him being the youngest and I think so far his concerns to a certain extaint have been justified. He (my partner) struggled all through school and was bullied as he was smaller than a lot of the boys. The system should allow some flexibility. We are planning to move to France where the cut off dates run from Jan to Dec, with 6 being the age where mandatory education begins. Therefore in the French system this Sept would by my son's first year of formal education - here in the UK he is already going into Year 2. And whilst the doubling of years is not something I would hope to have to consider I would do so if it meant my son was really struggling and unhappy - my only real concern about retaking a year would be the social aspect, i.e. making in friends in one class who then move on a year. However it does happen and I know families for whom this has worked. 4, in my opinion, is too young to start formal education. My niece in Scotland is a March baby - therefore she just missed the end Feb cut off that applies there. Consequently she was nearly 5 and a half by the time she started school. Even those born in Feb who are the youngest in their class would still be 4 and a half - that extra half year can make all the difference. Our daughter is September born and therefore - if we stay in the UK - will not start school until next Sept. Like Stewart I will be interested to see how she compares with her brother - she is already more advanced than he was at her age in terms of her writing and numeracy. She would then be 3 years behind him academically but only 2 years in age.

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  • 32. At 1:14pm on 21 Aug 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    LittleFluffyFi as the primary school ours go to has a nursey, my Eldest has been in school uniform since she was just turned 3!! She was so small we struggled to get a uniform for her.

    She may be dyslexic and we will be arranging the educational pyschologist next term. Whilst that has nothing to do with age, being at the younger end of a class of clever kids (all of them) does not help. And by giving her lots of home support also helps mask dyslexic traits, so by giving support we may make diagnosis more difficult.

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  • 33. At 1:26pm on 21 Aug 2008, theotherdaughter wrote:

    My daughter was an August baby, but in those days you went to school in the term after your 5th birthday - she still had to have 2 attempts at A level before she got to college though. Her two sons are July and August born respesctively - the older started school at just 4 and took to it like a duck to water - wanting to move to full days before the school would let him and having to be taken home kicking and screaming. The second also started at just 4 and was totally exhausted for most of his first term. It depends so much on the different child - and over 13 or so years of education I think the difference should iron itself out.

    We could consider the American system where I think you have to pass one year before moving on to the next.

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  • 34. At 1:59pm on 21 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    One of the advantages of our wee village school is that three years are taught together in one room and four in the other. There is ample scope for the quicker pupils to pick up on the work of the older ones, and conversely for the slower to proceed at their own pace. Teacher discretion (with parental participation) allows for a certain flexibility in just when a pupil advances or is 'held back'...

    We also have the advantage of peripatetic specialist teachers (art, music, special needs), which probably makes the wee village school a far superior experience for most pupils. But, of course, the centralist mentality can always contort the figures to show that such wee schools are more costly....

    ;-) and ;-(

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  • 35. At 2:05pm on 21 Aug 2008, ValeryP wrote:

    Fluffifi - it hadn't until now struck me that the English system disadvantaged children even more than the Scottish. My son having been born on Feb 28th was the very youngest he could be, and we found it difficult enough making the decision to send him at nearly 4 and a half. We were convinced by the fact that it was a small primary school and he'd been at the Nursery Class there since the day of his 3rd birthday, so it wasn't too much of a transition.

    Even so, he's now not long turned 21 and is in the throes of applying to do a further degree, having completed 4 years at University already.

    Intellectually he was and is, always up for it, but we can't help but feel that socially he, certainly earlier on, was at a disadvantage. However, you do what seems right at the time. My daughter's at the other end of the spectrum, being a March birthday baby, she's only 2 years younger than him but 3 years academically behind. The age advantage and the female maturity factor ;-) has seen her sail through socially.

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  • 36. At 6:07pm on 21 Aug 2008, biobumblebee wrote:

    I am almost 12, my birthday is on the 30th August, so if i was 2 day younger I would be in year 6. In my year 7 end of year exams in geography i got the second highest mark and the boy who got the highest mark was born on the 31st of August! So the two youngest in the class got the highest marks! I also got the highest mark in History and he came third!

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