Primary Education Review Published(27 Posts)
Do you agree that children in England start school too early?
I am a teacher and yes I do think they start too early. Or rather, the system across Reception and KS1 does not suit such young children.It would work with the system changing from 0-5 to 0-7 and a radical overhaul of the curriculum and class sizes.
30 4/5 year olds in one space with 2 adults is never going to be meeting the needs of such young children.
I agree. I think they are far too young for that kind of insitutionalised environment and the stress that may come with it. I do find it odd that the rest of Europe start school much later and it wasn't considered here (I think they are even thinking of bringing it forward to age 4 rather than 5!)
They definitely do here in Jersey (Channel Islands). My ds started this year at 4.6. He loves it but I don't think formal learning at this age is necessary and a more nursery/playschool type setting would be more appropriate. Some may say I'm biased because I went to school in Canada where we started after we had already turned 5, and even then we only did half days for the first term. And look at how successful Scandinavian schools are with their later starts. They're not struggling as a society because they don't make their children learn to read earlier. I just feel like it's the first step on the road towards stressing about testing and all that malarkey. We've just got a new head as well who used to be an Ofsted inspector in England and she's already banging on about raising standards at what is already an excellent school.
Yes you see that is what worries me, pressure due to stats and set targest etc. I would prefer much more free reign for teachers. My DD will be 4 and 4 months when she starts school. I think that is crazy.
(I suppose I am biased too, I started school at 6 1/2)
I also think it is way too early. In fact, apart from my Dad (very Victorian in his outlook) I don't know anyone who thinks starting so early is a good idea. The stupid government seems to think that keeping children in schools for longer and longer from much younger until much older will fix the problem of illiterate/innumerate school leavers. They don't seem to realise that it is actual school that is failing children, the curriculum, the 'flavour of the month' teaching style, the class sizes, dumbing down of subjects etc etc. I also think there are an awful lot of bad/disillusioned/only there for the paycheck teachers who shouldn't really be teaching. Maybe teaching should be more performance-related.
Blimey, this is pretty damning:
'The researchers are highly critical of politician's decision-making processes, saying: "The report notes the questionable evidence on which some key educational policies have been based; the disenfranchising of local voice; the rise of unelected and unaccountable groups taking key decisions behind closed doors; the 'empty rituals' of consultations; the authoritarian mindset, and the use of myth and derision to underwrite exaggerated accounts of progress and discredit alternative views."'
But of course it's not really the child's interests that are being considered, is it? Keeping them out of school means keeping women out of the workplace and that Won't Do, so off to school they will go at 4.
Actually system up here in Scotland is much better - minimum age for starting is 4.6 and there's an option to defer for a year and then go into p1 (reception equivalent) rather than p2. P1 is largely play-based (I'm told, haven't got there yet). So your child could be very nearly 6 by the time they start if you defer a Sept-Dec child.
Reception is now almost entirely play based and I think 90% of it is child led (so children chose which of various activities they want to do). Thus aren't they recommeding introducing formal teaching at year 2 (6/7) rather than year 1 (5/6). Not such a big policy change.
Up with getting rid of SATs though
My dd1 had a rotten year 1, which she still remembers now that she is in year 5. She had to be carried into class most mornings by a TA (screaming).
She liked her teacher and was not being bullied. She just felt that the work was beyond her. In fact, she still will not learn time, because she was put off in year 1. They had to work out an hour earier and an hour later from times on the O'Clock and half past. They were not provided with play clocks to do this. On this basis, 4 years later, she still says I cannot do time, so I will not even bother trying.
I would add a dissenting voice here. While I recognise that for some children starting formal education (rather than the current play-based Early Years Foundation) at 4 / 4.6 is inappropriate, for others it is entirely appropriate.
My daughter (a February birthday) asked if she could learn to read shortly after her fourth birthday. We asked a family member who is a reception teacher for advice on the best way to go about it and DD was able to read when she started school in September.
The school then overlooked her particular needs and left her desire to read more without much stimulation for six months, after which they started basic phonics. By this time (around about her fifth birthday) she was reading books at home and the mismatch between her particular needs and the education was huge. Only now that she is in KS1 are her individual educational needs being looked at, and her first year in Reception was largely a waste of time.
If we decide that starting to teach some children too early will frighten them and turn them off education, we risk leaving bright children who want to learn in a formal way will to stagnate until they are 6 ro 7 years old. Why can't we educate children at the level which is appropriate for them, rather than assuming one size will fit all?
My son was exactly like yours perm but I don't think holding them back hurts them at all far from it. So he could read before school, we have masses of books for him to read at home. If they're going to teach themselves to read/write they'll do it anyway, they don't need to be taught it. Give a child like that a pen/paper/books they can pretty much amuse themselves happily. They don't need to be formally sat at tables being taught to keep them fulfilled. My son was allowed outside to play/write with giant chalks one morning at school-he loved it.
I have twin boys the other is more an outdoorsy type of boy starting later would have been far better for him. He's just started y1 and although he can read and write he hates the latter,he hates sitting at tables and wants to be running around/playing. If he'd been left a couple of years I'm convinced he'd enjoy it all far more and would probably get along far quicker.His more studious twin would benefit greatly from more this too imho.
If children express an interest in formal learning at home before starting school I don't see any reason why parents shouldn't encourage that. Lots of learning in life is done outside of school anyway. I just think that 4 is too young to subject the majority of children to a formal education system. And these are bright children I am talking about as well. permanentvacation I wonder why your daughter's school didn't send reading books home with her? Our Reception class recognises when children can read and will send books home with them even while other children are working on phonics.
Are you sure about that, WitchWithAllTrimmings? Only I have needed it clarified all day, whether they mean formal learning to start Yr1 (as present) or Yr2.
So... current system could stand, but Yr1 would be play-based -- perhaps with accelerated opportunities for the children who were ready for more challenging work. I really can't see the problem. A play-based Yr1 would be fine by most, I'm sure.
Doesn't Wales have a play-based curriculum until the end of Yr2? Ambitious Relative of DH's was moaning that the Welsh system might fail her little geniuses bright children (they are in KS2 now and doing well above average academically in spite of the play-based start!)
that should really say MOST learning in life is done outside of school!
I can only assume that my DDs school were resistant to give her the resources appropriate to her level because they wanted to give all children the play based approach advocated by the Early Years Foundation framework. She had a newly qualified teacher who was very "on message" with the "proper" way to run a reception class. When one child out of thirty is different it is easy to ignore them.
I believe that it is right to teach/educate children at the level that is appropriate for them. My concern with this report is that a shift to play based learning for the first two years at school will marginalise those for whom more formal teaching at an early age is more appropriate. And if government guidelines are forcing teachers down a play based route then it will be harder to encourage your school to be more structured with your child, especially if your child is a minority.
They are all at different levels though, which necessitates an approach that goes down the middle. If all schools adopted your preferred approach then the parents that don't feel formal structured education is age appropriate in reception and Yr 1 would feel that their children are being marginalised and unduly pressured for their age. Are you able to change to a different school that emphasizes the areas you prefer? There are a couple in my area that actually expect nursery age children to sit upright at desks and face the front of a class, albeit they are private. So there are some schools out there that do follow that approach.
And to cap it all, if you disagree with current practice and want to Home Ed, to give your child the personalised one to one attention they need, the government plan to intervene there too and make it harder and make you jump through hoops and possibly have to follow a curriculum. Ggrrr.
My summer born DD has to start school in September 2010, and turns 5 the following July.
I asked the pre school where she is doing brilliantly, if I opt for her not to go into Reception, could she stay at nursery for another year, and they said, 'no, as you've taken up a place when she's 3...'
But having said that, the school is very flexible until she is 5. Half days, shorter week, so will play it by ear.
I agree with the report (or what I have seen reported of the main thrust of it).
Yes we start formal education too soon, both in terms of the lack of flexibility offered over when your DC start actual school, and the launching straight into the national curriculum KS1 in Yr 1 (when some children may be only just 5).
Yes SATs should be scrapped in their entirety.
Frustrating and depressing that the education dept have already said that they think it's crap and will ignore it!
Once again, the consensus emerging from educational specialists is being ignored by a largely ignorant government who refuse to admit they might have got it wrong.
I thank my lucky stars that my ds will be going to school in Wales.
Can anyone tell me what it means in the Guardian article www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/oct/16/cambridge-primary-review-government-reacion where is says "After the inquiry was launched, Balls ordered a separate review of the primary curriculum from the government adviser Sir Jim Rose ... That review triggered Balls' decision to bring forward the school starting age from five to four" Does this mean that the compulsaty school starting age will be four?
I am also that the government just derides the findings.
BUT WHAT CAN WE DO??????? (I can't practically move to Wales)
Hello Racing Snake! Glad to see a post from you all this time - I have wanted to ask you lots of questions these days. will write a post for you later...
No, it is not compulsory for children to start school at four. It remains that they don't have to be there until the term after their fifth birthday. However, schools are admitting children as young as four as they have taken away the three term intake. It is appalling to see children who've just turned four in August go into school. If you defer until next year, the place at the school might be taken by someone else and your child would go into year one.
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