Seven years for all primary children;Letter

28th May 1999 at 01:00
THE approach suggested by the chair of Playgroup Network, that children should be of compulsory school age before starting in reception class (TES, May 14) is a step in the right direction.

However, under this system the April to August-born would start in the autumn term, the September to December would start in the spring term and the January to March in the summer term.

This would mean that spring-born children would have only one term in reception before moving into Year 1, as have so many summer-born children under existing systems. This is why we believe there should be annual entry to primary education.

We suggest there should not be a compulsory age for admission but a statutory right to seven years primary education. The eligibility for entrance to the reception year in the autumn term could be all children whose fifth birthday falls between and including the previous April 1 and following March. The youngest child would then be four-and-a-half years old, rather than just four as at present.

Parents who feel their child is not ready for the reception year should have the right to withhold the child until the following term, or register for the next year. In exceptional cases, if a child is assessed to be ready for school earlier then appropriate arrangements should be made.

Pre-school providers should be funded annually for those children whose parents register with them, but the parent could decide, in consultation with the provider, when the child was ready to take up the place. In this way early- years providers could budget to make appropriate provision for the year.

Pat Nicholas, Honorary secretary, Campaign for Equal Access to Primary Education for All, 1 The Maltings, Walkern, Stevenage

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