Research by academics from the universities of London and Oxford have identified several factors that can predict academic success.
Month of birth does affect pupils’ achievement—as you would guess autumn-born children perform better than summer-born classmates in English tests right through to key stage 3 albeit by the teenage years the gap has very much narrowed. In mathematics the gap is less evident by the end of key stage 3 (14 years of age) but does exist at earlier key stages. One other significant factor is the home environment—again unsurprisingly pupils from supportive households and ones where there is an atmosphere conducive to learning do better than their counterparts in less supportive homes. Also children with a mother who has a high qualification level do better too.
What does all this mean for our children? I think it is reassuring for those parents with summer babies that they do catch up. Also not to agonise if you have a very late in the summer child that seems less mature than their peers as they could slip into the year below and become the oldest in the year rather than the youngest. Keep encouraging your children to read widely and be interested in the affairs of the world. Families who take time to discuss and even debate topics, however heated the discussion may become, do their children a favour in preparing them for school, higher education and beyond.
Another report published this week claims there is still a gender divide in how well children do at school (girls generally do better) and that there are universities where the balance of females to males is very uneven. Equally there are still male dominated courses in the fields of engineering and science. I hope we do much at PHS to ensure the girls are aware of careers in those fields as well as developing an interest in science, engineering and mathematics so that they choose to study courses that are of genuine interest. Together we all make sure that girls at Portsmouth High School receive all the advantages and best advice possible.