Summer-born kids

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Summer-born kids

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Does being born in the summer reduce your chance of going to university?

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Rob Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Rob…

Neil … and I’m Neil. Hello.

Rob Well Neil I’ve got a question for you straight away. Were you a summer baby? Were you born in the summer?

Neil Um…Yes, I was actually. Late summer.

Rob OK. And did you go to university?

Neil Yes…? Strange questions here, Rob.

Rob Not really. My questions do make sense because we’re talking about the impact when you were born has on how well you perform at school.

Neil OK. Are you calling me stupid here, Rob?

Rob Nothing like that. Well maybe… let’s wait and see what the experts have to say. But before that, I’ve got another question for you.

Neil OK then - let’s see if I’m clever enough to answer it!

Rob OK. Well, based on birth records between 1973 and 1999, what is the most common birthday for a person in the United States? Is it:

a) 1st January

b) 16th September

c) 30th March

Neil I’m gonna guess 30th March.

Rob OK. Well, we’ll hear the answer at the end of the programme. Another question now. According to research, are summer born babies more likely or less likely to go to university?

Neil Well, we are going to hear from an expert. Lorraine Dearden, who is Professor of Economics and Social Statistics at University College London (UCL). She was interviewed by the BBC about summer-born babies. She talks about the research, how well do they do in tests. How do they perform?

INSERT Professor Lorraine Dearden, University College London All the research has shown that summer born kids perform much worse in tests right through up until the age of eighteen and even … they’re less likely to attend higher education. BBC interviewer I mean, these are startling statistics 20% are less likely to go to university. Professor Lorraine Dearden, University College London Absolutely.

Rob That was Professor Lorraine Deardon with some really really surprising statistics - startling statistics, in fact.

Neil Yes, she says summer born kids perform much worse in tests.

Rob Yes, these summer born kids perform worse at school right through until the age of eighteen when they might be thinking about going to university.

Neil Yes, university. That’s higher education.

Rob So the professor said, according to research, summer babies are less likely to go to university - 20% in fact.

Neil Really? Well, don’t forget Rob, I told you I’m a summer baby. Well, I went to university.

Rob Yes, of course. These are just statistics - just figures. But if you are a parent of a child starting school these statistics are worrying.

Neil Well they shouldn’t worry. There are lots of people who were born in the summer that have done very well at university, thank you. And some of them are now professors.

Rob OK. Or BBC presenters… like you Neil.

Neil Yes, like me. But here is the problem. Let’s say you have a child. He’s a boy, born in August. He’s now 4 years old so he can start school this September. But in his class there are students whose birthday is coming very soon so they’re going to be 5 - that’s almost a year older than your child.

Rob So parents want their kids to do well at school - they are concerned - and now the government is trying to help - they’re trying to address those concerns. England’s schools minister Nick Gibbs says that the government wants to change the admissions rules for schools.

Neil The rule now in much of England is that children must start school in September after their fourth birthday.

Rob The schools minister says these rules should be changed. “Parents know their children best,” said Mr Gibb.

Neil Parents don’t want to send their children to school before they are ready.

Rob So here is the proposal - or suggested new rules. If a child is born in the summer, parents could delay the child’s start of school by up to a year.

Neil So the child will start school at 5 years old. Great, but does our expert Professor Lorraine Deardon think that’s a good idea. Is this the way to address the problem of the age difference?

INSERT Professor Lorraine Deardon, University College London Ah no, it’s not. I mean, basically, the reason why these children do worse in tests right throughout their life is simply that they are up to a year younger than their September born colleagues and this does nothing to address this.

Neil Professor Lorraine Deardon. She says that the new policy does nothing to address the problem of the age difference.

Rob There are still going to be 4 year olds in the class. Perhaps there will be more 5 year olds now because parents can delay their child’s start at school.

Neil Yes, the new policy addresses the concerns of parents that their children are not ready for school at 4 years old….

Rob … but there will always be this age difference in a classroom and many of the younger children will do worse in tests. Professor Deardon says that the proposal to change the schools admission policy does nothing to address this.

OK, time now for the answer to the question I set you at the beginning of the programme. I asked: based on birth records between 1973 and 1999, what is the most common birthday for a person in the United States? Is it:

a) 1st January

b) 16th September

c) 30th March

Neil And I guessed the 30th March.

Rob But you are wrong I’m afraid. The answer is actually the 16th September. Happy birthday to whoever was born then anyway.

Neil Yeah. OK, Rob. Can you tell us the words we learned today again please?

Rob Of course. We heard:

more likely / less likely


higher education







address the problem

Neil Well, that’s the end of 6 Minute English. Please do join us again soon.

Both Bye.

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