England Should Raise the Starting Age of School to 6, says Cambridge Primary Review

The Cambridge Primary Review, just released its first comprehensive inquiry into English primary education in 40 years. A team of 14 authors relied on, among other things, more than 4000 published sources, both national and international, as well as 28 specially-commissioned research surveys, to write the report.

The conclusion I’m most interested in is the one suggesting raising the starting age of school to age 6. The authors found that introducing children at the age of five into the constraint and discipline of a classroom – a throwback to Victorian days – provided little benefit and could even be harmful. “They are not going to learn to read, write and add up if you have alienated children by the age of four and five,” said Gillian Pugh, chairwoman of the Cambridge Primary Review’s advisory committee.

“That’s the stage at which we are tuning children into learning … If they are already failing by the time they are 4 1/2 or five, then it’s going to be quite difficult to get them back into the system again,” she added.

Sadly, the English government disagreed with the Review and called its conclusions “disappointing” and out of date.

Read the report and the surrounding commentary here.

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