The impact of age of entry to school on boys' reading attitudes and skills during Key Stage One
British children enter school earlier than their European counterparts. According to statutory guidelines they must commence school in the term following their fifth birthday. In reality Local Education Authority policy has fostered a trend towards earlier admission, with most children in school at four or four and a half. Research suggests that this disadvantages boys who may be unready for formal literacy instruction and in particular summer-born boys, the youngest cohort in the year group. This longitudinal study explores the effect of age of entry to school on boys' reading development, focussing on attitudes as well as achievement. Adopting both quantitative and qualitative methodologies the study examined this development within a sample of 60, summer-born boys as they moved through Key Stage One. The boys were drawn randomly from 18 schools within six Local Education Authorities operating different admissions policies. Comparisons were drawn between 31 boys with part-time Nursery education before Year One, and 29 with full-time Reception class experience. Collection of data commenced in 1998, so that the National Literacy Strategy governed the sample's school literacy experiences in Years One and Two. Data was collected from the boys and their parents on three occasions: before entry to Year One, at the end of Year One and the end of Year Two. The study illustrates the impact of commencing school on boys' reading attitudes both directly and through the triadic relationship established between school, parents and children. It traces the development of boys' reading attitudes over time as the sample's experiences became more uniform and analyses the long-term impact of early entry into school. Contrary to parental belief as examined through parental interview and questionnaires, boys who commenced school earlier were not advantaged in terms of reading achievement. The data suggest that an early start to school was accompanied by heightened adult expectations (both parents' and teachers'), of which the boys became keenly aware. This affected the boys' attitudes toward reading and their reading routines, often acting detrimentally on their reading development. The study examines the implications of these findings for school admission policies.