The issue of whether to introduce a uniform school starting age across Australia has been put under the spotlight again as the country’s peak primary principals’ association revealed a plan to introduce a standard national starting age of five-and-a-half.
The Australian Primary Principals’ Association (APPA) wants the age to be standardised across all states and territories now a national curriculum has been developed.
Currently the various states and territory education departments control how old a child must be upon starting school and that age varies widely across the country.
Under the proposed plan, children would be at least five years old when they start school.
Many education professionals, such as Kathy Walker, are disappointed that a deal on a national school starting age is not being worked towards by the Federal Government.
Walker, one of Australia’s leading parenting and education experts, public speakers and authors, says she spends most of the year talking about school readiness, school preparation and transition to parents.
“One of the things I can categorically say is that with a national curriculum now in place and with the transient of parents moving between states and territories it is a nonsense not to have a national starting age,” Walker said.
“It’s really imperative for support and consistency for families, for children and for teachers.”
Walker says a higher school starting age, such as five-and-a-half, would ease the mind of parents instead of having them wonder whether their child is ready or mature enough.
“We need to become more aligned with most countries across the world, we have and continue to have one of the youngest age entries of school in the world at the moment and we have had for many decades,” Walker said. “It helps parents have a more definitive starting point, it gives children a few more months of maturity overall, and whilst there will always be some children on the continuum that may be requiring a little more time, it’s just an easier thing for families, easier for preschool teachers and easier for prep teachers.”