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Birth month affects child's school success

AUGUST-born children are less likely to attend a leading university and more likely to study practical courses than their September-born peers, research suggests.

A new study reveals "gaps" between children born at the start of the academic year and those born at the end. Drawing on data from existing studies, researchers examined achievement and wellbeing.

The findings show that children born in August are just over seven percentage points more likely to be studying for vocational qualifications rather than academic ones, than those born in September.

August-born youngsters are also less likely to go to university at age 19, and 1.5 percentage points (20pc) less likely to attend a top university.

The study, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in the UK, raises concerns that those born in summer may be making, or forced to make, choices that mean they will earn less than their peers later in life.

It stated: "They are also slightly less likely to attend high-status universities, suggesting that month of birth might have consequences into adulthood."

Data from one survey looking at seven-year-olds shows that teachers are two-and-a-half times more likely to rate August-borns as below average in maths, the report notes.

Parents of youngsters born in August are only slightly more likely to say that their child has difficulty reading than those born in September.

The report suggests that parents are more likely to "invest" more in children born in the summer.

It says that parents of August-born children "provide a richer home learning environment" on average by the age of five.

"This provides some evidence to support the notion that parents appear to be 'compensating' for the disadvantages that their August-born children face in school by spending more time with them at home."

Claire Crawford, programme director at IFS, said: "Studying for academic qualifications, attending a top university and believing that you have control over your own life are associated with a greater chance of being in work and having higher wages and academic success later on in life."