13/01/2022

Education Minister Urged To Introduce New School Starting Age Legislation

The Education Minister has been urged to introduce new legislation on school starting age, following a consultation that showed 90% of respondents supported the move.

A consultation was held on proposal to allow parents to defer their children starting school.

Following the conclusion of the consultation, the Green Party has called on Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to bring forward new legislation.
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Making the call, the Green Party's Rachel Woods said: "Children in Northern Ireland start school at one of the lowest ages in Europe, and increased flexibility will be a huge benefit for those who, for example, are born prematurely or are young for their year. I have worked with constituents in North Down on this issue since becoming an MLA, and I know that parents and teachers have been frustrated by the Executive's slow progress.

"It has taken almost a decade to get to this stage – a commitment to consider flexible school starts was first made in 2013 by the previous Education Minister John O'Dowd, but plans to introduce legislation were postponed in 2015, and then fell due to Assembly timing. It's time for legislation to pass, in the best interests of children and young people.

"The five Executive parties' inaction on this issue must now be rectified by ensuring that the will of the public as expressed in this consultation is implemented. Minister McIlveen should legislate on this as a matter of urgency, to ensure that this is passed in time for next year's pupil intake."

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