Education Act lowers school starting age for Tasmanians

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Changes to Tasmanian Education Act pass parliament

Boys using an abacus, Shutterstock.

Tasmania’s State Government has reformed its Education Act in an attempt to improve literacy and numeracy rates.

The bill passed the Tasmanian parliament yesterday, bringing into effect the option for students to start school at four-and-a-half years of age, as proposed by Premier Will Hodgman at the beginning of 2016.

Previously, starting age in Tasmania was set to five years old – the oldest minimum starting age for schoolchildren in any state or territory of Australia.

After the act passed yesterday, Tasmania’s Education Minister, Jeremy Rockliff said the bill is part of a long-term plan to to improve education outcomes in the state, and that it “will help close the gap where currently Tasmanian students can receive up to two years less schooling than their interstate counterparts.”

However, not all Tasmanians are convinced that the change will be beneficial, with various interest groups raising concerns, including the Union of Childcare Workers and Early Childhood Australia’s Tasmanian branch.

A ‘Stop lowering the school age in Tasmania’ petition has been signed by 5,204 people, more than doubling in size over the past few months.

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