Unions have criticised plans to send children to school at an earlier age.

ABC news reports, under legislation to be introduced to Tasmanian State Parliament, children born this year would be able to start school (first full time year in Prep) at the age of four and a half.

Meaning these children will be three and a half if they attend Kindergarten. Sad face. My baby was in Prep last year (in Tassie) and he turned 6 the week he started! That is such a massive difference.

The Tasmanian State Government is also proposing students stay at school until they turn 18, complete Year 12 or obtain a certificate three at TAFE.

The changes would take effect in 2020.

The education union’s Helen Richardson said more students in schools for longer would only translate to more learning if there were adequate resources in place.

“Unfortunately in Tasmania too many kids, already in the school system, are being held back from learning because of State Government cuts,” she said.

“If these latest changes are not well resourced, it will exacerbate existing problems in some schools.’

“The addition of younger kids in prep requires major changes in teaching methods and content.”

‘Children should start school later, research shows’

United Voice, the union representing childcare workers, also has concerns.

“Children aren’t ready to be going to school at such an early age, we will also see less ability to focus and really succeed at school,” Tasmanian branch secretary Jannette Armstrong said.

“It is contrary to much of the more recent research and evidence that suggests children should actually be starting school at a later age rather than earlier.

“Places like Finland, who we generally know have great education outcomes, they’re not having their children start school until six or seven years of age.”

There is concern some rural and regional childcare services already struggling would take a hit.

“By lowering the school age we will be removing a whole cohort of children who access those services, some of them may have to close and so that will have an impact not only on those children but the children who are aged from birth to three and a half will need to continue accessing those services,” Ms Armstrong said.

Children’s commissioner Mark Morrissey welcomed the proposed extension of the starting and finishing school age, arguing it would send a powerful message about the importance of education.

“For far too long too many Tasmania young people have left school far too early,” he said.

“We must maximise the opportunities resulting from this proposal by, amongst other things, providing educational and vocational options that acknowledge the different interests and vocational pathways of our young people.”

A parents concern

This concerns me after reading Kathy Margolis, a teacher from Brisbane, open letter speaking out about how education in Australian schools is in crisis.

She said “Classrooms are overcrowded. The curriculum is so overcrowded.” She continued “Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard.”

How is this going to help anyone? Besides they are too young! They are still so widdle. Some children won’t even be fully toilet trained at that age. Especially if starting Kinder at 3.5yrs.

I am glad my babies are past this.

What do you think is a good age to start full time school?

Share your comments below.

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  • I’m amazed by the range of starting ages across Australia. Queensland, for instance, changed their rules for all children born from 2002 onwards, that the starting age of 5 went from a 1st January cut-off to a 30 June cut-off. Effectively, this means some children wait an extra year to start school.
    Personally, I think its so hard to know which is better because of the wide range of abilities in this group. I know my youngest will be well and truly ready to start and follow her siblings off to school so in the meantime we are focusing on establishing our routines and her confidence with groups.


  • For a compulsory start it’s young because some kids still need rests during the day. While others do really well starting young. England starts kids quite young and they all do find. But I don’t have a kid close to starting yet so I’ll see what I think when I get close!


  • I know that amongst my daughter’s peers at school there is an 18 month age difference between some of the students and it doesn’t seem to be an issue. The younger ones are doing just as well as the older ones. It should be left to parents to decide when their children are ready for school (within reason, of course).


  • Lke mj


  • No. It’s way too young. I will be waiting to send my Son to school.


  • I believe it depends on the child’s maturity and social interaction with other children. Some can’t wait to start school. They have learnt all they can at Kindergarten. They want to learn to read and write. Some can read a little, even memorise parts of small books before the age of 4. I know a little boy that will be 5 in April next year but will start School late Jan – early Feb. He can already spell and write his name (the writing is pretty scratchy). He recognises his name and points them out when he spells it. He will be bored if he has to wait an extra year to start school.


  • Do they mean full time at 4 and a half year? I think it’s too young. My daughter went to a Montessori preschool for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, when she was 3 years old. Then 3 hours a day, 4 days a week, when she turned 4. Then 3 and a half hours a day, 5 days a week, when she turned 5. I think that was a great way to prepare for full-time education after that.
    For me full-time education should start in the year that kids turn 6.


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