Institute for Fiscal Studies data shows that August-born children in the UK do less well at school, may do less well at university (or are generally less likely to get there), and that this follows through their lives.
I was born in August, and started school at the age of 4 years 3 weeks. However, I don’t think my age was ever actually an issue within my year at school. I was in the higher streams in primary school, was confident, and pretty happy. Time for some self-analysis:
When I think back there were several things that my TEACHERS were sure I wasn’t good at. I distinctly remember an occasion (age 7) where my teacher was shocked at my skills at ‘reading out loud’. So much so that she asked me to read to the whole class!
I remember being told that I couldn’t read the higher stream books in the reading case (age 8), but never being given a reason. This was at a time when I was devouring much more difficult books at home (Sherlock Holmes, Greek myths and H.G. Wells), and had made my way through the entire children’s section at the local library.
Then, age 10, I was apparently one of the three people in my class not good enough at sport to compete in a local competition. What my teacher didn’t know was that I was part of a local athletics club, and was competing for them in regional and national competitions! The three of us were left all alone in our classroom for three days, while the rest went off to take part in the competitions.
This trend continued throughout my time at comprehensive too, where I was told by my English teacher that I “should not have read” the Hobbit (age 13) or To Kill a Mocking Bird (age 14) yet, because “we will do it next year”, and my personal best at 100m (timed at the athletics club) was greeted with disbelief by my P.E. teacher, who told me it must be wrong.
I was told by another P.E. teacher that, despite the fact that I enjoyed badminton and turned up for extra coaching, there was no way I could compete in the local tournament. Again with no explanation.
However, I also remember being taken to one side at a parent’s evening and being shown a graph of our CAT (Cognitive Abilities Test – taken age 11) scores where I scored the highest in my year, and being asked by my teacher, “Why, if you score so high, do you have such low self-belief?”
Did this leave me feeling inadequate? Will it affect my prospects in the future? Has it given me a ‘complex’ that I can’t succeed?
I’m not sure. I think I am a confident, smart individual.
I still think I am no good at sport, and refuse to run any more, though I am quite fit.
Maybe it has affected me. Once I finally finish university, having given up my first degree, I shall find out.