Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Call to start school in groups

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Kelsey Young, 4, is about to start school, but mum Keryn wishes she had some friends to start with her. She is is pictured with her 2-year-old brother Kaden. Photo / Stephen Parker
Kelsey Young, 4, is about to start school, but mum Keryn wishes she had some friends to start with her. She is is pictured with her 2-year-old brother Kaden. Photo / Stephen Parker

Some Rotorua schools have shown their support for a proposed change in the education sector that could see 5-year-olds starting school in groups rather than individually on their birthdays.

But one principal said it was important a "one size fits all" attitude was not adopted and schools would be able to have the flexibility to do what worked best for their communities.

The change suggests having group intakes on set dates for children starting school so the big move is "less stressful and isolating" for new students.

The change is part of the first update of the Education Act in 26 years, being considered by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

While schools can already opt for cohort entry, parents can legally insist on their child starting on their fifth birthday. But under the proposed change, children would have to wait to enter school at the next cohort date.

Rotorua Principals' Association president and Ngakuru School principal Grant Henderson said while he did not think the proposal would work for his school, he saw the positive implications for larger schools.

"For the bigger schools I understand the logic behind the proposal and it aligns with how National Standards are set up but as a small rural school I have told our parents it won't work for us.

"My biggest question would be what happens to a child while they are five and not able to attend school or early childhood education? We've got to be careful we don't adopt the one change will fit everyone attitude. We need to keep the flexibility so schools can do what suits their families best."

Lynmore Primary School principal Lorraine Taylor said they were really keen on the proposed change.

"It would be much less stressful and isolating for children who currently have to start on their own and in a school of our size it would better suit our resources having groups start together.

"We have observed some teachers getting a new student every day - they are having to do the same inductions for both child and parent over and over."

Ms Taylor said from an organising perspective and socially, the move would be hugely beneficial for her school.

Rotorua mum Keryn Young said the change would have benefited her introverted daughter Kelsey, 4. "I'm not for or against the proposal, but I think it would be good for kids like Kelsey who would feel more comfortable starting school with some of their friends."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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