Apparently, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has discovered something parents have known for years, children born late in the year can be placed in classes which can be too advanced for them, by the date which determines the school year and the dates of examinations. They have carried out research and discovered that this affects some 5.5 percent of girls and 6.1 percent of boys doing GCSE. They then go on to say this it is ‘overwhelmingly’ at the age a child sits the exam, that matters. I would not have thought these percentages were definitely accurate and even if they are, other factors such as the quality of teaching, the help at home and their child’s natural ability will collectively have more than 6% effect.
I am reliably informed that in the past some Eleven Plus exam results were modified for children, so the idea is not new, merely the response. My daughter was roughly a year younger than the average of the class and her reports did not take account of the face, instead of being praised she was said to be capable of even better her. I lost two years by living in Africa, which affected my self opinion, but not my final outcome.
Reading the article, I wonder, for example if they were taking results across the board, rather than over a period of, say 22 years, when the same teachers were teaching a specific subject in selected schools chosen for the sample,, and whether the same percentages were appearing in all the schools, or in fact, some schools fared better because the teachers were better to a greater degree than 6%..In addition they say, in effect, that adjustments must be made for those affected, when it comes t0 selection for further education.
The Minister for Education stated the condition was unacceptable from equality and efficiency aspects and had to be changed. The Minister for schools said the matter was already being addressed. A pilot scheme at 500 schools permitting children in this situation to sit their Key Stage tests separately when the teachers think the children can give a better account of their abilities. This strikes me as a hammer to crack a nut. If this philosophy is to ensure equality, that all children get the same chance, they will have to take into account absences through illness, and make teachers take exams and be graded so their effect can be included in the extra school time to allocate, All this on top of Diplomas? We need to encourage good teachers, not burden them with so much bureaucracy; they leave and get a less irksome job in the Civil Service.
I give up! When the parents actually move house to get a child into the school of their choice, I don’t think they will even consider the date problem. If they did, I suppose it is possible they might just start to consider artificial insemination., to be sure of hitting the exams at the right time.