Scotland is an outlier regarding starting school age, with only 12% of the nations worldwide starting school before age 6. All but two are former members of the British Empire.
A 2-year-long C4 Dispatches, aired in 1998, investigating whether or not teaching children to read and write too early could be harmful found unequivocally that it can cause permanent damage in up to 40% of young children. The findings were shared with every MP and leading educationalists around the country. Yet 23 years on, the numeracy and literacy skills of P1 children are being tested using the controversial online SNSA in Scotland, against the will of the Scottish Parliament. They are blamed for being a major barrier to the vision of CfE as a holistic approach: narrowing the curriculum, schools pitted against each other as the published SNSA data is formed into league tables to help equip parents to choose a good school; and most importantly, they are ‘damaging’ to our children.
OECD’s recent damning report led to an immediate commitment by the Scottish Government to completely overhaul the education system. The 139-page document warned of ‘misalignment’ between the qualifications system and wider goals of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). ‘The “backwash” from this may even be felt in primary schools where concerns about readiness for subject choice and examination success were mentioned by parents of the youngest pupils’ the BBC reported.
OECD state the ten-year timeline since CfE implementation is an opportunity to review it.
“Whilst there are positive examples of flexi-schooling in outdoor settings and Froebelian practice in the state sector extending into P1/2, the only school in Scotland where a child can stay in a kindergarten until they are 6 is in a private school like the Steiner Waldorf or Montessori School. That is just not right and not fair.”