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How to push ahead, stay back

For the best start at school, stop at home -Times Online
Like most aspirational trends it is already so rampant across the United States that it has an American name: “redshirting”.

This is an American football term, but refers to the practice of pushy parents pushing for their child to start primary school a year late. That doesn’t sound good, I hear you say. ....But science has finally proved what teachers have known for years: being the youngest in your class can damage your chances, for life.

Parents aren’t stupid. And pushy parents are the least stupid of all. Yes, we could tinker with the rule that states children in England have to start school in the year they turn 5. But the same effect is shown from Canada, which is more flexible about when a child starts school, to the more regimented Japan. Since the advantage is not in being older, but simply that you are older than your classmates, in any given group some children will always be the poor young ones.

And guess who is more likely to be among the poor young ones? Yes, the poor....


My birthday is September 1st, which was the cut-off date in my LEA to decide when you should start school. It meant that throughout my schooldays, I was always either the oldest or the youngest in my year. It made a huge difference. I was bullied the first four years at prep school, but then the bullies left in my last year, with me remaining as the oldest boy in the school. I flourished, buckled down to work, won a scholarship to public school (where I was again the oldest boy in my year) and never looked back. Advantages included turning eighteen before the start of my Upper Sixth year, which meant I was the first to be allowed off campus to visit the local pubs. Taking into account my gap year, I was twenty when I started university, which gave me a real head start over the younger kids, many of whom had never spent a night away from home in their lives.

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