Children at 5 'too young' to start school


The 608-page Cambridge University study said introducing children at the age of five into the constraint and discipline of a classroom — a throwback to Victorian days — provided little benefit and could even be harmful.

“They are not going to learn to read, write and add up if you have alienated children by the age of four and five,” said Gillian Pugh, chairwoman of the Cambridge Primary Review’s advisory committee.

“That’s the stage at which we are tuning children into learning... If they are already failing by the time they are four and a half or five, then it’s going to be quite difficult to get them back into the system again,” she added.

The government called the review “disappointing” and out of date.

Although the authors of the report stopped short of recommending a rise in the starting age of compulsory schooling from five, they called for an “open debate” on the issue.
They said children up to the age of six should instead be given the more informal, play-based education typically found in nurseries.

It said England’s tradition of starting school at five, shared in Europe only by Wales, Scotland and the Netherlands, dated from the requirements of Victorian factory owners.
Schooling starts at the age of six in 20 out of the 34 European countries, with eight nations, including Sweden, waiting until children are seven.

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