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FFT Term of Birth research

Why birthdays matter

A pupil’s term and month of birth can have a significant effect on their attainment, progress and development. It can also have a major impact on your school’s results.

Find out more and download an FFT Term of Birth report for your own school.

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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.

Download your Term of Birth report now

The impact of month of birth on attainment

% Expected Standard in KS2 Reading, Writing & Maths (2017)

% Grade 4+ English & Maths (2017)

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This chart shows the percentage of pupils in England achieving the national standard in KS2 Reading, Writing and Maths in 2017. The impact of month of birth can clearly be seen – there is a 14 percentage point gap between September-born and August-born pupils.

This chart shows the percentage of pupils in England achieving KS4 Grade 4+ in English & Maths in 2017. The impact of month of birth can clearly be seen – there is a 6 percentage point gap between September-born and August-born pupils.

Click for extra insight

The impact of month of birth on progress

KS1 to KS2 scaled score progress in Reading & Maths (2017)

Progress 8 (2017)

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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.

Click for extra insight

The combined impact of gender, month of birth and FSM6

% Expected Standard in KS2 Reading, Writing & Maths (2017)

% Grade 4+ English & Maths (2017)

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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

Getting older quicker

How August-born pupils close the gap as they get older but remain behind September-born peers

What difference does a year make? Part 1

Looking at the impact of age and gender distribution for schools

What difference does a year make? Part 2

Comparing the results of August-born and September-born pupils

What difference does a year make? Part 3

Closing the gap at Foundation Stage Profile

Education Datalab works collaboratively with research partners and makes sure that our published research is accessible to policy makers and schools. Our short, accessible blog posts always contain data, but they are designed to be read by anyone in the education world.

Data can’t make good policy, but it can help policy makers better understand the education system they are trying to reform.

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If you’d like to sign up to receive the Education Datalab newsletter and blogs, then please go to:

educationdatalab.org.uk/newsletter
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Access your own FFT Term of Birth report

We’ve produced 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: 
  1. Log in to Aspire
  2. Go to Downloads (hover over the Self-evaluation menu at the top of the screen and choose ‘See all downloads’).
Get my report

* KS1 reports will be available in January 2018. Reports for Wales will be available in spring term 2018.

If you don’t currently subscribe to FFT: 
Request a report for my school

You can download an example report by key stage.

KS2KS4

Three-step action plan for schools

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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?
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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.
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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.

Further reading

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.

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