Universities should lower their entry tariff requirements for students born in August to reflect the lower achievement levels of children born in the summer, a new UK study suggests.
Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found pupils born in August are 6.4 percentage points less likely to achieve 5 GCSEs at grades A* to C than those born in September. They are also two percentage points less likely to go to university at age 18 or 19 and 25 percent less likely to enter the UK's top universities Oxford and Cambridge.
Those born in the summer also did go on to earn the same as those in the autumn and had the same levels of employment, health and happiness, the study says.
“Very large differences in attainment between children born at the start and end of the academic year…affects the post-compulsory education options open to them,” said the report’s co-author Claire Crawford, IFS programme director.
Age-adjusted scores should be used by admissions tutors to determine entry, as well as for streaming children within school, the study recommends.
The subject was studied by the best-selling social analyst Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers'. He sought to identify whether the most successful individuals shared common characteristics and established that those individuals who were born in the first trimester of the school year enjoyed enormous advantages over their younger classmates. He recommends in the book that schools should take age as a significant factor when streaming in primary school.