Tasmanian Education Minister defends school starting age decision
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Tasmanian Education Minister defends school starting age decision

School safety

Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has said the state government has listened to the people in changing its position to lower the school starting age.

The Tasmanian Government put out a video on social media in which Mr Rockliff announced the government had changed its position, in a bid to allow children to start prep at 4½ years. It will instead look to introduce an additional year of preschool for vulnerable children by 2020.

It comes after an EMRS poll which found 76 per cent of the 1000 Tasmanians surveyed opposed lowering the voluntary school starting age.

Mr Rockliff said a KPMG report into the effect of lowering the school starting age — found that the sector was vulnerable to change.

“The report recommended to increase our access to early learning,” he said.

“We should adopt a different approach and we have listened.”

The school starting age will remain at five years for prep students, while free access to preschool programs for eligible three-year-olds will be offered and commence in 2020.

Mr Rockliff said the programs would receive $10.5 million a year from the state government.

“This plan will dramatically reshape and improve the early education sector,” he said.

The Tasmanian Branch of Early Childhood Australia welcomed the decision.

Tasmanian president Jo Walsh told News Corp Mr Rockliff had listened to the sector.

“Minister Rockliff’s decision not to pursue the optional earlier school starting age demonstrated his recognition of the significant impact this change would have on the education and care sector,” she said.

Labor education spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne told News Corp the announcement had been made under “the cover of darkness” and had been a “woefully misguided experiment”.

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