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Call for flexibility in the starting age for schooling

Some children in Northern Ireland should be allowed to start school at a later age, the Assembly’s education committee will be told today.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), two parents and a primary school vice-principal are due to give a presentation to the committee at Stormont this afternoon.

Northern Ireland has the lowest compulsory school starting age in Europe, with some children starting school at four years and two months. Most European countries have a starting age of six.

Mark Langhammer, the ATL’s director in Northern Ireland, said there was evidence that the early start is disadvantaging some children.

“What we’re asking for is a little flexibility in the system, which would allow parents to defer their child’s entry where they feel that this would be in their child’s best |interests,” he said.

Siobhan McQuaid, vice-principal of Holy Family Primary School in north Belfast, said she wanted to be part of the delegation because she sees at first hand the problems which can arise when children start school too young.

Belfast Telegraph

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