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Thread: VIC school age being lowered to 4.5yrs

  1. #1
    cazoraz Guest

    Exclamation VIC school age being lowered to 4.5yrs

    Heard this on Sunrise this morning and it was in todays Herald-Sun:


    Kids to start school younger
    By GLENN MILNE and CARLY CRAWFORD
    04jun06


    VICTORIAN children could start school younger under a new plan to standardise primary school enrolment ages across the country.

    Children would be able to start school at 4 1/2, three months earlier than the current minimum starting age of four years and nine months.
    At a meeting with states and territories in July, federal Education Minister Julie Bishop will argue economic and educational benefits would flow from standardising the minimum starting age.

    She is expected to nominate four years and six months as the optimum age at which children should start school.

    Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky backed the concept.

    "The states agreed to standardise the school age several years ago, in-principle, before Julie Bishop was minister and we look forward to discussing it further when we next meet her," her spokesman said yesterday.



    Across the country there are five minimum school starting ages; NSW 4.5 years, Queensland 4.6, Victoria 4.8, WA 4.6, SA 4.5, Tasmania 5.0, ACT 4.8 and NT 4.6.

    It is understood if Ms Bishop can get agreement from the states on the primary school issue, she intends to move to standardise the age for entry to high school.




    YAY I say, that means Lucy will start school in 2008 instead of 2009, saves me a hell of a lot of money in childcare fees!! I statred school just before I turned 5 and I turned out alright.

    What do you reckon, a good or a bad thing?
    xxxCaz

  2. #2

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    Well there you go, I thought that NSW still went on 4yrs 9mths. I think bringing every state into line will make a huge difference to families that move interstate and the average age of high schools students when they finish will be more even.

    I think it is really dependent on the child. I know of kids turning 6 who should have been held back another year and kids turning 5 that could have gone.

    Lindsay only turned 5 in Feb this year is doing exceptionally well at school, better than I expected. I am really glad I sent him and he is performing better than a lot of kids up to 10 months older than him. The girls wont have an issue with this because being in October and June, they will already be 5.

  3. #3

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    i think its great to give parents the opportunity. I was 4 when i started school however I think I will wait for my kids to be 5.

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    I thought they would lean the other way and have to be five as at the end of the calendar year. They float so many of these 'ideas' ... just so we think they are working in Canberra !

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    I found this really interesting, very surprising really!
    I was told a while ago by my SIL who is a teacher that they were changing the rules as of 2008, and your child would have to be 5 by December 31 to start school the following year!

    Personally, I think I would prefer the child to turn 5 before starting school. This new supposed rule means that Hayley could start earlier too, BUT I did that with Tayla, she made the cut off by 7 days, she was so forward that everyone suggested that I put her in early...BIG MISTAKE!! Tayla is now in Grade 5 and is having a lot of problems, I wish now that I had held her back a year.

    The thing is in the average primary school there are sooo many kids that need help and arent keeping up to the standards set that they are often forgotten and dont get the help that they need. There are not enough staff to cope with kids that need help, so they miss out and the parents have to pay privately to get them the assistance that they need. Its cost us heaps so far and we are still going!

    Shannen started school at 5yrs 3 months and has done brilliantly, she is in the advanced class at secondary college, is totally blitzing it, whereas her friend who started just before she turned 5 is still struggling in Year 7. Its been pretty much the same with most of the kids the whole way through school.

    This will be a very interesting debate. Personally there is not enough funding for schools and I can see a lot of kids falling through the cracks of the education system especially if they lower the age. I guess it will mean more Mums can go back to work earlier, but is it in the interest of the kids or a way for the gov't to save money and spend it on more silly things???

  6. #6

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    In WA it has only recently changed.

    Emma was able to start Year one in 2001 because she was going to be 6 that year (not until December mind you!) and that worked really well for her. Then before Jack could start kindy the entry requirements changed and he had to wait an extra 12 months before starting becuase he is July baby!

    In WA apparently Yr 7's will be moved to high schools in 2009 (the half cohort - the first kids to enter school after the entry age changed).

    We are finally heading towards a national education system and that can only be a good thing!

    Cheers

  7. #7

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    I'm a high school teacher and I can really see this compounding problems at our end.

    We see so many kids who really can't cope and aren't ready for high school yet are forced to move on to year 7 regardless. A lot of my students in year 7 could really have done with an extra year before coming to high school - whether that means being held back or whether they should have waited a year before starting primary school I just don't know.

    I started when I was 4 (I turned 5 in February) and I did brilliantly academically, but socially I didn't do so well. I was dux of my school, but had very few friends. My sister on the other hand, started when she was 4 (turned 5 in May) and was held back a year in primary school. She did much better than me socially, but her academic performance was very sub-standard. She's just not an academic person where I was.

    What works for one child does not necessarily work for all, while the advantages of having uniformity across the nation are immense, I really think they should head towards a higher minimum age. Or perhaps assess each studen'ts readyness for school on an individual basis.

    I think I'm going to be a little controversial here - but I believe that something like the American system where a student is held back if they don't meet outcomes would certainly be a good idea. It minimises the frustration of pushing kids through the system where at the end of year 10 they can still barely read.

    BW

  8. #8

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    I don't see that its a problem having 4.5 as an option if a child is ready for it but if it means that other children who mightn't be ready have to start earlier then I would think it a bad idea. In Raising Boys Steve Budulph says that he thinks that the starting age for boys should be a year older than girls because thier communications skills develop more slowly so maybe the starting age should be set at between 4.5 and 6 years and rather than looking at ages we should be looking at skills.

  9. #9

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    Lindsay was 3 weeks off turning 5 when he started, but had he been born from April onwards, I don't think I would have sent him. He is doing well both academically and socially, but i do think it should be judged on an individual basis.

    BW - I agree with you on us adopting a US type system - it would save everyone a lot of heartache and kids who really should be held back won't slip through the cracks.

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    We made the decision to hold Mason back for various reasons, the main one being his social skills. In his case he is absolutely nowhere near ready for school at 4 1/2, besides being able to count, recite the alphabet, write his name and ATM he is actually teaching himself to tell the time. Mason will be beginning school when he is 6. I am worried about what this will mean for those who are also not ready for school but are sent anyway because they are the age where they are able to go. What's wrong with letting them be little kids for a bit longer.

  11. #11

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    I think, as Fletch says, it's all a matter of convenience to the parents... so often we get told as teachers that it is our job to "fix my child" - there are a lot of parents who abdicate all responsibility for discipline and education to teachers. It's just a sad reflection on society today.

    BW

  12. #12

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    I am a primary school teacher in WA and I can say that I have seen my fair share of kids who are ready for school and those who are not. I am teaching a Kindy/Pre-Primary class so I had some kids starting Kindy at 3 (they are all 4 now) and some starting kindy at 4 (they will turn 5 after June 30) I also had some kids start Pre-Primary at 4 (they have turned 5) and I have a class with some kids who will be 6 (after 30 June). Quite a gap as you can see.

    I do not know about the other states but the classroom of a 5 year old (Pre-Primary) in WA is very different to the classroom of a 5 year old (Reception) in SA (that is based on my experiences ... Uni prac student in SA, teacher in WA).

    Sadly even for those kids who start school early, it is almost too late to help them learn the basics ... most of the brain develops int eh first 3 years of life. The neurons and synapses are how the brain works and most of the pathways are developed by the age of 3. That is not to say that it is not possible for a child to learn new things after this age but they have to work harder to learn the skills.

    So much to think about ... especially in terms of a national curriculum. The states continue to fight over who's system is the best ... why can they not take the best bits from all the curriculums and blend them together and make one. No hassles for families moving across the country, no hassles for Yr 12's who want to go to Uni in other states ... the list goes on ... a national teacher accreditation where teacher's experience in all states counts and they can move from state to state and understand the curriculum and be able to quickly take up jobs at the same level, instead of having to start again! Ok you get my drift ... it is something that I am keen on seeing (as both a parent and teacher) and while there will be a lot of work involved, especially for teachers and education department employees, surely it is in the best interests of the children.

    Cheers

  13. #13
    cazoraz Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by kelly2202
    So much to think about ... especially in terms of a national curriculum. The states continue to fight over who's system is the best ... why can they not take the best bits from all the curriculums and blend them together and make one. No hassles for families moving across the country, no hassles for Yr 12's who want to go to Uni in other states ... the list goes on ... a national teacher accreditation where teacher's experience in all states counts and they can move from state to state and understand the curriculum and be able to quickly take up jobs at the same level, instead of having to start again! Ok you get my drift ... it is something that I am keen on seeing (as both a parent and teacher) and while there will be a lot of work involved, especially for teachers and education department employees, surely it is in the best interests of the children.
    I think we are moving towards a national curriculum more, but the enormity of the task to first of all decide on it amongst all states, and then implement it boggles the mind. For instance, I am in my final/4th year of my Secondary Education degree now (finish in October YAY!) and so am well versed in VELS (Victorian Essential Learning Standards) which is the new standards that started this year in Vic schools, but we are seeing heaps of problems with teachers reluctant to swap over from the CFS II model. I cant imagine how hard it would be to change again...

    oh well we'll wait and see I guess!They did say on teh news this evening that even if this change to 4.5yrs starting age does go ahead, it wont be til 2010, so it wont affect my almost 3yr old but it will affect Coleman, meaning instead of 2 school years between them there will be only 1....mmmmmmm

  14. #14

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    Its so hard as it really depends on the individual child.

    When I started school you had to be 5 by June 30, (is that 4.5 years?) and my birthday was on July 8, so I missed out by 8 days.

    I think, and my parents always thought that academically I should have been in the higher grade.

    Emotionally and socially though, it would have been a complete disaster, and so in a way I am glad that mum didn't let them induce her and I was born a full month late!

    ***Edited to add: Milo will be starting at 5y 3 months then I guess? Am I doing the maths right??***

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    I'm a strong believer of when they are good and ready. It depends on each child and their muturity and how they cope. I've heard that Australia has the youngest age bracket in the western world on sending kids to school. Not sure if it's true, maybe someone can clarify that statment?

  16. #16
    Debbie Lee Guest

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    What's wrong with kids spending a bit more time to be little rather than throwing them in the deep end in life.
    Gotta agree with you there, Shannon.
    School days are such long days for the little tackers. Even my grade 1/2's had days where they didn't cope if they had had a late night or woke up early (I had one little boy that went to before school care and after school care every day.... the poor thing was knackered!)

    Fletch - too right... there's no way a 15 year old can know exactly which path they want to take in their career (ok... some do but I found that most only have an idealistic view with no real knowledge of what's involved).
    I advise a lot of high school kids to pick a Uni course or whatever then defer for a year. Go out and get a part-time job somewhere and just have fun for a year. You can always change your course or change your mind about going to Uni altogether. There's a whole world out there that many high school kids have yet to experience so how can they know which direction to turn. Best to experience the big, wide world a little then make up your mind. So long as they have a job and aren't just bumming around, I don't see the harm. On the flip-side, if they are really focussed and have the determination, good on 'em! But I'd say that would be a minority.

    Caz -
    am well versed in VELS (Victorian Essential Learning Standards) which is the new standards that started this year in Vic schools, but we are seeing heaps of problems with teachers reluctant to swap over from the CFS II model. I cant imagine how hard it would be to change again...
    As someone who only just learnt how to use the old system (curriculum and reporting), I can understand why there's such a reluctance to swap from the CSF to VELS. I was kind of disappointed that the system was changing because I thought I had finally had enough experience to hold me in good stead, LOL. I guess, though, I will be doing CRT for a while so, by the time I go back to FT teaching, the system will have changed yet again!! LOL
    It's funny, I was trying to explain to a friend (a non-teacher) how the new report-writing system has freaked a few teachers out. She couldn't understand the problem. She was under the impression that we just tick a few boxes and write "Little Johnny was a pleasure to teach this year" and that's that. OMG! If ONLY it was that easy, hey?
    I'm all for a National Curriculum too.... so long as there's a little bit of flexibility. I've only ever been a teacher in the Victorian school system. I did attend school in the ACT from Kinder-grade 4 but I really don't remember any great differences from a student perspective (except that it was weird that Prep is called Kinder up there... here, kinder is pre-school, LOL). But, then, I was all of 5 years old so who would notice curriculum differences?? hehehe

    Gabby's birthday is in March. I'm not sure if I want her starting when she is still 4..... hmmm... seems too early. But, then, I'll have to see what her academic and social skills are like. Some kids are just ready by then... but I'd rather keep her back if she needs it rather than just send her because she's within the legal age to send her, iykwim?

  17. #17

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    I would not send my child to school at 4.5yrs if I had the option. My ds is an April baby so could've been doing 4 year old pre-school this year, I chose to hold him back and he is doing 3 year old instead. Academically he may be fine now, but it is the later years that I would be afraid he may fall behind.
    This was the case for my brother and a decision mum regrets. He is a June baby (back when cut off was June 30) so she sent him before he was 5. Sailed through primary school, but immaturity started to shine through in high school. Unfortunately he dropped out. Now I know that wont be the case for everyone, but I know I would rather wait!

  18. #18

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    I agree Fletch - as a primary teacher of Kinder and Year One in NSW (we should chat!) i personally that lowering the age is a bad idea. Who is it suppose to be good for the child or you? Sorry if this offends anyone but they are only young for a little while.

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