Technically, all children born between the beginning of March one year and the end of February the next, start school together in mid-August, with an average age of four and a half. In Scotland, therefore, it is the winter-born children who are the youngest in the class, not the summer-born as in the rest of the UK. But they suffer the same tendency to underachieve.
A recent UK-wide study published in the British Medical Journal found that regardless of season of birth, the youngest in the year have a slightly increased chance of mental health problems.
There is no reception year to ease the transition to school in Scotland; literacy and numeracy programmes kick in almost immediately.
“I was very jealous of my friends in England where the reception year really is a gentle introduction to school and children can go part-time and play until they feel ready to do longer hours and more work,” says community education worker Fiona Henderson.
November 4th 2003