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Educationalists support no formal teaching before 7

12.09.2013

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, entitled ‘The Government should stop intervening in early education: Earlier starts to formal learning can affect the health and wellbeing of young children‘ a list of 127 educationalists put forward their objections to the current state-mandated school starting age of 5 years old.

Instead, they support a starting age of 6-7 years old and state that:

Children who enter school at six or seven – after several years of high quality nursery education – consistently achieve better educational results as well as higher levels of wellbeing.

The approach taken by Steiner-Waldorf schools is one educational alternative which supports this method, and we see the benefits to our children every day. Two Steiner-Waldorf representatives are among the signatories to the letter.

The letter has also been reported on the BBC.  There;

Another of the experts, former Children’s Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green, said: “If you look at a country like Finland children don’t start formal, full-scale education until they are seven.

“These extra few years, in my view, provide a crucial opportunity, when supported by well-trained, well-paid and highly educated staff, for children to be children.”

A DoE spokesman responds by saying;

“These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools.

“We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer – a system freed from the grip of those who bleat bogus pop-psychology about ‘self image’, which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up.”

While it is very encouraging to see so many respected and highly experienced educationalists speaking out against the degradation of childhood by target-driven systems, it is also a very sad occurence when a rational debate about early education is belittled by a government spokesman in such a way.

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