Primary schools could 'select' five-year-olds

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The Independent Online
PRIMARY SCHOOLS could introduce unofficial selection policies for five-year-olds to ensure that they score highly in the Government's league tables of test results at age seven, a report published yesterday says, writes Judith Judd.

An independent study, by the National Union of Teachers with Leeds University's School of Education, of last year's tests for seven-year-olds in 89 schools, shows that pupils who have winter birthdays, who have had nursery education and who come from middle-class homes, all have a significant advantage.

The report says there is likely to be a tendency for schools to regard younger children - those from poorer social backgrounds, those whose first language is not English and those with special educational needs - as 'less welcome' if the Government continues to publish 'raw' results that are not adjusted for such factors.

In the tests in English, maths and science, children are placed on levels, starting with one for below average and two for average. Diane Shorrock and Sandra Daniels, who studied the 1991 tests at seven for the Government, say that last year the percentage of children with winter birthdays reaching level three was double that for the summer-born in all the subjects. In maths, the percentage of middle-class children reaching level three was five times that of those from poorer backgrounds and double in English.