STUDENTS who are kept back at school because of concerns about their social development or maturity are no better off than those who advance to the next grade despite their problems, a new study has found.
The research, by the Sydney University professor Andrew Martin, also found that students with academic problems were better off advancing, and backs up an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report released earlier this year that said keeping children back did not help their school performance.
Published in the British Educational Research Journal, the study of more than 3000 students from six high schools considered both academic and social outcomes of repeating a grade and found students did not benefit on either front.
''Many students repeat school years because of [social] issues, not just because of a lack of academic achievement,'' Professor Martin said. "[But] the implications from this study are that repeating students is not a beneficial strategy.''
The study found that, irrespective of a student's age, sex, grade, academic performance and the language spoken at home, repeating a grade did not improve results. Students who were made to repeat had lower self-esteem and their relationships with peers did not improve. Academically, it showed students were less confident and engaged with their studies.
About 8 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds have repeated at least one grade.
The research suggests it is better to advance children and provide targeted learning for those struggling to keep up with the curriculum.