FFT term of birth research
Why month of birth matters
Seasons - or to be more precise TERMS of birth - are really important. Why? Because they can affect pupil attainment, progress and development.
For schools, a skewed cohort (based on term or month of birth) could be the difference between an Ofsted good or outstanding! Or it could mean dropping below the DfE floor standard!
The impact of term of birth at your school
FFT has always recognised this issue. It's one of the reasons that 'month of birth' is included as an input factor in FFT pupil estimates. It's why we've just added a new 'term of birth' filter to all our FFT Aspire reports. And it's why we've produced a special PDF 'term of birth' report for every school.
To find out more about the impact of term of birth and to access a PDF report for your school, scroll down.
The impact of month of birth on attainment
% Expected Standard in KS2 Reading, Writing & Maths
This chart shows the percentage of pupils in England achieving the national standard in KS2 Reading, Writing and Maths.
% Grade 4+ English & Maths
This chart shows the percentage of pupils in England achieving KS4 Grade 4+ in English & Maths.
The impact of month of birth on progress
KS1 to KS2 scaled score progress in Reading & Maths
This chart shows that on average, pupils born between March and August made higher than expected progress from KS1 to KS2, whereas pupils born between September and February made lower than expected progress. This makes sense because we know that the national attainment gap (based on month of birth) reduces over time.
This chart shows that on average, pupils born between February and August made higher than expected progress from KS2 to KS4, whereas pupils born between September and January made lower than expected progress. This makes sense because we know that the national attainment gap (based on month of birth) reduces over time.
Read one of our related research blog posts
Education Datalab is part of FFT and brings together a group of expert researchers who turn curiosity about education into quantitative analysis. We produce independent, cutting-edge research that can be used by policy makers to inform education policy, and by schools to improve practice.Education Datalab
Access your own FFT Term of Birth report
We've produced KS1, KS2 and KS4 FFT Term of Birth reports for every school in England. The report focuses on your attainment and progress in 2015, 2016 and 2017 using term of birth as a contextual factor.
If your school subscribes to FFT:
- Log in to Aspire
- Go to Downloads (hover over the Self-evaluation menu at the top of the screen and choose 'See all downloads').
Reports for Wales will be available in 2018.
Three-step action plan for schools
Log in to Aspire and access your school's Term of Birth report
- Download your Term of Birth PDF report from the Downloads area (hover over the Self-evaluation menu at the top of the screen).
- Use the report to assess the impact of term of birth on attainment and progress in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
- Do your current teaching and intervention strategies take account of these factors, especially where cohorts are skewed? How could you change this?
Use Aspire's interactive Self-Evaluation dashboards
Within Aspire, use the new term of birth options in the Self-evaluation dashboards to analyse your results.
- All reports now include term of birth filters.
- The Pupil Groups report also includes Autumn, Spring and Summer groupings allowing you to compare attainment and progress across the three groups.
Look ahead! Could term of birth have an impact on the performance of future cohorts?
Use the new term of birth filter options in Aspire's target setting dashboards to help you to set realistic and challenging targets.
- Identify the percentage of pupils born in each term. Are any of your cohorts particularly skewed? Look at the benchmark estimates for individual pupils.
- Use the target setting facility to assess the appropriate level of challenge for each pupil.
Whilst the impact of term of birth continues to affect pupils and schools, a significant amount of research exists in this area. These links offer a good starting point for any schools keen to gain a greater insight.
House of Commons Briefing Paper
UCL Institute of Education
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Institute for Fiscal Studies