Study: Month of birth may dictate future success

THE month in which a child is born can influence their school performance and, later, chances of going to college and having a successful career, according to new research.

The British study suggests that those born in September do better in exams than children born during summer months.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) compared performances in key tests taken at the ages of seven, 11 and 14 along with GCSEs taken around age 16 and A-Levels at age 18.

A higher percentage of girls born in September reached the Government target score at all five stages than those born in August.

The IFS reported that access to further and higher education, and resultant future success in the labour market, was likely to be significantly affected by the month of birth.

Its research was based on information from all State-funded schools in England and showed that four-in-five girls, born in September, reached the expected level in tests taken at the age of seven, compared to just over half those born in August. However, the gap narrows through to A-levels, when a difference of just 2% exists between the proportion of both categories reaching target scores.

While the study could be of initial concern here, there is a major difference in enrolment times in primary school in both countries.

Irish children, generally, start their formal education at the same time, beginning junior infants in September.

In many parts of England, however, children start school in the term after their fifth birthday. So a child turning five around Christmas would attend class for the first time in January, joining other pupils who have already had up to four months of learning.

The findings are contradicted by a random survey of successful people in Ireland, whose academic records are quite varied.

One of the 11 students to score top marks in eight higher level Leaving Certificate subjects this year was Philip Donnellan from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, who celebrated his 19th birthday in September, suggesting there could be some truth in the IFS research.

“I guess I must be proof of the pudding,” said Philip, who is now studying chemical engineering at University College Cork.

However, another person with a September birthday is RTÉ’s Chief News Correspondent Charlie Bird. He is one of numerous high-profile figures who actually failed his Leaving Certificate but went on to show that there was more to life than exam success.

Leading businessman Denis O’Brien, one of the country’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, was born in April and was not deterred in his career after failing Leaving Certificate maths.

But one of the country’s top academics, Trinity College Dublin’s Provost Dr John Hegarty celebrates his birthday in the same month. Before taking up his current position, he was the college’s professor of laser physics.

More in this section

Price info
IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.