Willie Rennie: ‘Scots children should start school at 6 or 7’

Pupils at Whatriggs Primary, East Ayrshire. Picture: John Devlin
Pupils at Whatriggs Primary, East Ayrshire. Picture: John Devlin
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The age for starting formal schooling should be raised to six or seven, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will today tell delegates at the party’s conference in Scotland.

Mr Rennie will say that today’s school starting age of four or five was based on Victorian legislation to enable mothers to provide cheap factory labour. He will argue that nine out of ten countries in the world start formal education at the age of six or seven.

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“Only a tiny fraction join Britain at such an early age,” he will say. “That’s why I want Scotland to join the majority of countries around the world. I want schools to be able to change the way we teach children aged four and five. We should start formal schooling at six or even seven.”

Scotland’s largest teaching union the EIS is already exploring such a move.

A spokesperson said: “The EIS AGM agreed last year to investigate the opportunities and challenges associated with a change to the school starting age through a possible move to a kindergarten model of early years education. This work is ongoing, and we will be seeking the views of our members in early years and primary establishments.”

They added that other countries had universal pre-school provision