Education Minister must now legislate on school starting age – Woods

Eanáir 12, 2022 1 min read

Education Minister must now legislate on school starting age – Woods

Green Party NI MLA for North Down Rachel Woods has called for the Education Minister to introduce legislation in response to the results of a consultation on the school starting age which demonstrated overwhelming support for reform.

Rachel Woods MLA said: "I welcome the results of this consultation, which demonstrate that 90% of respondents are in favour of giving parents the option to defer their children starting school.

"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."

ENDS

Media contact: Jack O'Dwyer-Henry (07504410770)


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