Education Amendment Bill passes in Parliament

The Education Amendment Bill (No 2), which tightens up on the school starting age, provision of online education and university name changing, passed its third and final reading in Parliament.

Stuff:  School starting age pushed back to 5 as Education Amendment Bill passes Parliament

The bill also changes the future course of digital education in New Zealand, repealing the communities of online learning provisions set to come into force in December. The regulations would have enabled communities of online learning to be established by public and private providers.

It also toughens up the process for universities pushing for a legal name change.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins introduced a Supplementary Order Paper to the bill on Wednesday after Victoria University of Wellington abandoned its name change attempt.

Children will no longer be allowed to start school before their fifth birthday after the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its third and final reading in Parliament.

The bill changes cohort entry, removing the option for parents to enrol their child up to eight weeks before they turn five years old.

This seems an odd change. It reverses a change two years ago – Stuff:  Starting school at four too young, principals warn Government

Four-year-olds are too young to cope with the structure and learning requirements of school, Auckland principals say.

But the Government is looking at a new law which will allow 4-year-olds to enrol on the first day of the term closest to their fifth birthday.

The process, called cohort entry, is part of a raft of changes in an update to the Education Act, set to be debated in Parliament this week.

The new rules allow children to start school a maximum of eight weeks before their fifth birthday, and schools would have to consult the community first.

Bayswater Primary School principal Lindsay Child said she did not see any educational benefits in enrolling pupils before they turned 5.

“The new entrants model is specifically designed for children who are school age, and now we’re talking about kids even younger than that.”

Children develop at different rates. There’s nothing magic about starting school at exactly five years old.

Child taught in the UK where pupils who had just turned 4 could start school. That was “far too young” and she had embraced the Kiwi model where pupils could start school between their fifth and sixth birthday.

What we have in New Zealand is a drip feeding of children into school as they turn five, so classes have to cater for children at different stages of their first year of education.

I know that in Queensland (I have grandchildren there) children start their year 1 (called Prep) all at the same time at the start of the year. Children who turn 5 by 30 June enrol at the start of that year, so their starting ages range from 4 and a half to 5 and a half. They seem to manage ok.

The change in 2017 at least allowed children to start as a group each term.

On the passing of the amendment act yesterday:

National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said repealing communities of online learning was “hugely disappointing”.

The bill was “an example of this Government on an ideological crusade to get rid of anything brought in by National”.

There seems to be some of that in education and in workplace legislation.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  10th May 2019

    The more I watch children starting school at five, the more I think Rudolf Steiner schools have it right with starting children at seven. They believe people develop in seven years cycles.

    Reply
    • Kids develop all the time, starting from when they are born. There’s a lot of variability, so putting a seven year ‘cycle’ timeframe on it seems quite odd.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  10th May 2019

        Quite true. I watched a new entrant spell words like ‘imagination” with ease. Most, however, seemed unsettled and didn’t like the introduced structured learning.

        The thing is our education system is based on intellectual learning and advancement. Steiner schools take a more holistic approach. There’s no doubt they have some funny ideas. But from my experience a ten years old Steiner educated child is a better all round individual than either a state or private school pupil.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  10th May 2019

          Does education research back that up – discounting of course that they would be mostly kids from a higher socio economic background

          Its mostly high class quackery – the theory behind it all.
          “Anthroposophical child development is different from what you might think of as child development. In line with with Steiner’s mystical religious beliefs, his theories of child development are based around the process of reincarnation. The curriculum of Steiner Schools is designed to help children progress through the stages of reincarnation as they grow. Reincarnation does not happen all at once at birth, but develops over seven year cycles. At birth a child is given their ‘physical’ body, at Age 7 (or when teeth develop) the child takes on their ‘etheric’ body, at 14 their ‘astral’ body. At each stage of reincarnation, the child becomes more ready to engage in different forms of education. For example, reading is suppressed until the adult teeth appear indicating the etheric body has taken hold.

          It gets worse
          “Steiner claimed he loved all humans. But he saw humans as evolving through a racial hierarchy. It was the aim of Anthroposophy to help souls develop spiritually and evolve through the races. As such, Steiner’s racism was paternalistic, but nonetheless deeply offensive. Steiner’s methods would encourage teachers to treat children differently depending on their soul’s ‘development’ which might be measured by skin colour – amongst other physical characteristics.”

          The anti academic approach has consequences
          “Many parents realise their children are falling behind their peers and pull them out.”
          http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2016/11/ten-things-you-should-know-about-waldorfsteiner-schools.html

          maybe they only retain the name in NZ as ‘branding’ if they are integrated schools then they must follow the national curriculum

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  10th May 2019

            I can only talk from my experiences. I have no proof to back my perceptions up.
            My experiences came from a rare- I believe- inter school gathering regarding a new green space development near both schools. I just found the Steiner kids more interesting to talk to. Their focus on matters at hand was extraordinary, and they asked pertinent questions of the council representative present.
            The state school kids were – I don’t know the right word to use – so I’ll go with ‘nonchalant.’ That’s the nearest I can get to describing my perceptions of them.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  10th May 2019

              They’re originally based on a pretty strange quasi-religious philosophy from what I saw in Wikipedia, but from a quick google, a Christchurch one seems to turn out kids who pass NCEA levels 2 & 3 at good rates & is following the national curriculum at this level.

              And for others, their National Steiner Certificates are approved by the NZQA and are registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

              The Steiner School Certificate Level 3 is endorsed with University Entrance & qualifies for entry into New Zealand Universities provided grades meet prescribed requirements.

            • Duker

               /  10th May 2019

              ” they asked pertinent questions of the council representative present.”

              Sounds to me like they were coached by teacher- not in a bad way but as as a ‘lesson’ ?
              Plus they would come from high functioning households and are expected to act like that

      • But there are patterns and starting at five may meet the average better rather than four. After all some freaks maybe able to engage with school at three years old, but very few and setting the system up to cater for them risks the education of many more.

        Reply
    • NOEL

       /  10th May 2019

      Technically kids don’t start at five. These days the start at nearest term date to their birthday.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  10th May 2019

        Kids don’t have to start school until they are six years old. Currently the age of seven is being considered. I have two young rellies in kindy who will be 5 in July. However, they won’t start school until the first term next year. Our thinking is why throw them in the deep end with a class that has already formed friendships and social networks after getting over the angst of starting school.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  10th May 2019

          If these rellies are real, they will be six in a class full of five year olds. I can’t see this as an advantage. Angst is an odd word to use of starting school, but I suppose it depends upon one’s attitude to education.

          One event where there were Steiner pupils, supposing that you were at a school gathering, seems inadequate for judging the entire Steiner system.

          Reply
  2. duperez

     /  10th May 2019

    Nikki Kaye: “an example of this Government on an ideological crusade to get rid of anything brought in by National”.

    PG: “There seems to be some of that in education and in workplace legislation.”

    That’s how it works doesn’t it? A Labour government would introduce something like for example a Capital Gains Tax and a National government would get rid of it. Do parties get rid of something merely because it’s the work of the other lot or because it’s dumb? Well, seen to be dumb.

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  10th May 2019

      Talking with two American teachers and asked if they had political interference in the curriculum and running of school as in NZ. Both said yes and almost in unison said “but a lot of the time we ignore it”.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  10th May 2019

        “political interference in the curriculum and running of school as in NZ. ”
        Where is the political interference in the curriculum in NZ?

        Reply
  1. Education Amendment Bill passes in Parliament — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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