We’ve always known that pupils with birthdays between May and August are likely to need extra help to catch up with their class fellows who are anything up to 11 months older. But just how many need help has never really been known.
Now we do know. They are a third more likely to require intensive tuition in numeracy to bring them up to speed, it emerged.
Research has found that large numbers of summer-born children can be around 13 months behind in terms of maths compared with the average for their year group at the start of primary education.
Boys, children from poor families, those with special needs and pupils speaking English as a second language were also more likely to have poor maths skills.
However the good news is that these children catch up in many cases and may even overtake other pupils after being one-to-one help and small-group tuition by teams of specialist teachers in the first two years of school.
The disclosure comes in a report by national charity the Every Child a Chance Trust after a study found that children with birthdays in the summer are more likely to have low self-esteem, report being unhappy at school and struggle to get into the top universities.
John Griffith-Jones, the charity’s chairman and head of KPMG Europe, said the latest findings underlined the value of providing “early intervention to prevent long-term failure”.
The charity has been running intensive numeracy tuition in state schools since 2008, backed with funding from the Government and a series of private companies and charitable foundations. They provide primary schools with cash for one-to-one tuition and small-group teaching for children aged five to seven.
It has been targeted at the six per cent of children identified as having the worst numeracy skills – typically those who are more than a year behind the average for their age.