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Four-year-olds too young for school: union

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/05/2017

Changes allowing Kiwi kids to start school when they are four years old appeared aimed at cutting administrative costs but will not benefit children, the primary teachers' union says.

The proposal is part of an education bill set for its final parliamentary reading this week that has been called the biggest update to the school system in 27 years.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said in August the Education (Update) Amendment Bill sets clear goals for schools and then holds them accountable for their results.

However, New Zealand Educational Institute president Louise Green attacked a measure allowing children to start school up to eight weeks before they turn five, saying it was too early.

"What we don't want is to get children into formalised learning far too early and lose that creativity," she told the AM Show on Tuesday.

"It does sound in all the conversations I've had [that allowing children to start earlier is] mostly about [making it] administratively easier for schools."

Ms Green said the current system allowing children to start school when they are five or six is early enough because New Zealand's early learning centres did a great job teaching younger children.

"Our early childhood centres do an amazing job with children, the teachers understand child development, and they organise programs and opportunities for learning to happen," she said.

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