This month the Department opened its consultation on Deferring the School Starting Age.

It seeks views on proposals to introduce flexibility for the youngest children in the year group (born between 1 Apr-1 Jul), in addition to how the proposal will impact the pre-school provision for deferred children.

Mark Langhammer, regional secretary for NEU NI explained;

“We have been involved in the campaign to bring flexibility to Northern Ireland’s school start for over a decade, and this consultation, whilst long overdue, is a welcome step in addressing the disadvantage an inappropriately early start is having on some of our children. We know that children who are not ready for school may struggle through to GCSE level and beyond, getting their education off to the worst possible start. Affected groups such as the ‘young for year’ or premature and multiple births, should have the automatic right to defer.

Children in Northern Ireland are amongst the youngest school beginners in Europe and I encourage our members to submit their feedback to this consultation and support this measure.”

In 2015, similar legislation was pushed back until after the next election as insufficient time was available. NEU have been working closely with organisations such as Parents-OutLoud, Tiny-Life, and Early Years and have developed this guidance document. The document offers an ‘at a glance’ guide to the 36-page consultation document and outlines the group’s views on each question. We hope this makes submitting your view as simple as possible.

The consultation closes on 4 January 2022. Download your consultation questionnaire here.