THE first year of compulsory schooling should be a "transition" year between nursery and more formal education, the Scottish Liberal Democrats proposed at their conference in Paisley last weekend.
Although the party will not expect its Labour partner in the coalition to take the plan on board immediately, Ian Jenkins, a member of the Parliament's education committee, pledged: "We want to get the education of the three to six-year-olds on the agenda and eventually, some years down the line, to change the system for that age-group."
A policy paper, The Best Possible Start, says that primary 1 should be turned into a transition phase with particula attention to areas like art, music, drama and sport, with an increase in the number of specialist teachers available to primaries.
Judy Hayman, a teacher and prospective candidate for East Lothian, said there was no evidence that progress in literacy and numeracy would be affected higher up the school. "There are budget implications in what we suggest, but the Liberal Democrats have made clear they are willing to provide extra for education through taxes if necessary."
Entry dates could not be tailored for individual children but a less formal first year could help "bridge the gap after the uneven years of three-to-four experience".