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.