General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Expert welcomes change in primary school starting age


29/04/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

A leading early years education expert has welcomed suggestions that parents may be able to delay the start of their children's schooling by a year.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick, chief executive of Early Years, said she was glad the end of the 11-plus could give parents greater flexibility.

Many are unhappy that the system forces some children to begin P1 just weeks after their fourth birthday - the youngest age in Europe.

While schools have admitted pupils from the age of four for decades, it has only been compulsory since 1989. For a short time in the mid-1980s it was raised to five.

But for years the starting date has been driven by rules governing the age at which a child could take the 11-plus.


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