Education Committee web forum: School Starting Age

The Education Committee invites views on the strength of the evidence in relation to the current policy and on the international evidence on the relationship between school starting age and student achievement.

Thank you for all comments submitted to the ‘Evidence Check’ forum. The forum is now closed. Comments received will help the Committee evaluate the evidence received from the Department for Education.

The Committee will use the comments to select topics for one-off oral evidence sessions in early 2015.


Please read the Department's evidence on school starting age:

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64 Responses to School Starting Age

annmarie bennett says:
November 19, 2014 at 10:54 PM
4 years old is simply too young to begin school. The State should not be child-minding our children. Let them enjoy their childhood before their formal education begins. There is no evidence to support greater educational outcomes due to starting school early, in fact quite the opposite. I would like to see the age for beginning compulsory education raised to 6 years old.
Katy Bilsland says:
November 19, 2014 at 07:16 PM
I have an August born baby boy - and they are the most disadvantaged by the current criteria for starting school. I would be extremely keen to have clarification on the criteria for delaying the start for formal education by a year as I gather at the moment this is as good as impossible.
Kirsty Watson says:
November 19, 2014 at 06:48 PM
my daughter has just turned four and is desperate to start school now. She would thrive even now but I know many of her peers who would not. We visited the infant school that she will attend recently and I was pleased to see that while every class was doing literacy, each group was PLAYING and learning in an active, kinasethic and fun way.

An argument I have heard for keeping CSA at five is that it allows parents to get back to work. I would argue that school is in many ways more awkward to fit around a job. At the moment my daughter uses her 15 hours of free provision as one a half days at nursery. This allows me to work from 9-5. We chose this over the school affiliated preschool as that was 9-12. Five days a week. Meaning she would need somewhere to go before and after preschool. Next year, I will need to find a way to work around her 8:45-3 day.

In conclusion, I do not necessarily think CSA should change as long as the emphasis is clearly on playing rather than assessment. I definitely do not think political rhetoric about getting people back into work / getting people off benefits should have anything to do with it.

Let the children play!
Helen says:
November 19, 2014 at 06:43 PM
I agree with all the evidence that starting formal school should be age 6/7. But while we have the space and teachers in schools then pre-school can be delivered in a school building as long as they have a good quality outdoor space. The EYFS should be extended to age 6/7 with only observational assessments of their play levels. Then all children will be 'School Ready', with no child left behind.
Ana Hughes says:
November 19, 2014 at 06:08 PM
Many children are not ready to start school even at the compulsory age, they find it hard to be in a school setting and are often classed as 'difficult' This would often be possible to change should it not be compulsory for them to attend school as detailed. Please do NOT lower the age at which school is compulsory in this country any further. It is low enough as it is !
Sarah says:
November 19, 2014 at 05:25 PM
I think that all children should learn through play until they are 7. They shouldn't go to school into till they are 7. Children are having there childhood taken away from them too early. Let them Play more!
Carol Blakeborough says:
November 19, 2014 at 04:21 PM
I don't believe children should be expected to enter full time formal education until about 7 years old. Young children should be free to move around,play & socialise before being expected to adhere to the kind of discipline schools require. If there is cause for concern in some families they should be offered extra support but the whole structure of early education should be based on the premise that most parents provide a good, stimulating and most of all loving environment for their young children.
The natural quest for knowledge and learning is being driven out of our young people by and increasingly structured, demanding and ever tested educational regime.
sarah clarke says:
November 19, 2014 at 04:12 PM
Children should b allowed to learn though play untill at least six . We wa by our children to thrive at school just not cope with it

Nathan Archer says:
November 19, 2014 at 02:48 PM
I remain unconvinced that an Act in 1870 is justification for current policy of school starting age at 5 years old. Coupled with international evidence which demonstrates many other countries have later school starting ages (including Finland, which continues to outperform the UK in children's results at age 11) I would suggest this is all evidence for consideration of a LATER starting age, not earlier (ie 2 year olds in schools).
Leila Law says:
November 19, 2014 at 12:28 PM
I believe the formal / mandatory age for starting school in England should be raised to 6. I think funded pre-school should still be provided up to this age but with more unstructured play, enough time for outdoor play after school, even in winter. The focus on phonics and spelling would also benefit from being deferred to 5 or 6 years of age.