The Importance of Movement in Child Development
13th Jan, 2017
School starting age rules may change. Children's first day at primary school has traditionally been on their 5th birthday but a new proposal will give schools the option of "cohort entry". That would mean children start in groups at set times during the year instead of when each individual child turns five.
There are concerns that this proposed new approach to when new entrants start school could have a large impact on childcare centres and could even force some to close.
By introducing a cohort entry, children could potentially start school at age four. The Ministry of Education believes this new approach would offer greater flexibility to schools and limit early childhood education costs for families. The Ministry points to the benefits of new entrants being able to start school in a group together.
However the opportunity for a younger school starting age may also lead to significant financial impact on childcare centres due to the loss of pupils. Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds has called the new proposal a "funding cut by stealth". Minister of Education figures show the proposed changes could see early childhood centres lose large numbers of children, costing the sector up to $11 million in the first year.
Concerns have also been raised about the potential effects on children of starting school before the age of five. Some parents, along with primary school teachers, have mixed feelings about the proposal and have pointed out drawbacks, wondering whether the younger entrance age would hold back children's cognitive and social development.
Teachers Union, NZEI president Lynda Stuart said there was no evidence of any benefits over the current system. "We have got a really nice way of children entering into schools," Stuart said. "It's almost a rite of passage."
13th Jan, 2017
15th Mar, 2017