Campaign aims to raise school age

Pre-school children having fun at the Secret Garden outdoor nursery
Pre-school children having fun at the Secret Garden outdoor nursery

Calls for the school starting age in Scotland to be raised are to be made at an event for parents and teachers planned for next month.

The event, to be held in Collessie Village Hall on January 18, is being organised by Cathy Bache, manager of the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery near Letham, and will be addressed by writer and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch.

“Scotland has one of the earliest school starting ages in the world and there are now plans for national tests at five”, said Ms Bache.

“Yet all the evidence shows that small children today need more time to play, particularly outdoors.

“In the Nordic countries they start formal learning later, but have a much better educational record than the UK.”

Sue Palmer, an expert in literacy and child development, will also speak in her capacity as chairman of Upstart Scotland, a campaign to be launched in May calling for the introduction of a kindergarten stage for children between three and seven, similar to that in Finland.

“Too many children struggle in the early stages of primary school” she said.

“This contributes to an achievement gap that’s worrying the Scottish Government. The plan is to tackle it by bringing in national tests, starting at five – but England has had this sort of test-based system for 20 years and it’s made things worse, not better.

“Instead, we should look north to countries that focus on children’s all-round development for the first six or seven years.”

Upstart Scotland maintains that the decline in children’s active, creative play over recent decades has contributed to increases in physical and mental health problems among young people. It says a kindergarten approach to early education puts more emphasis on physical, social and emotional development and stresses the importance of education.

The meeting at Collessie Village Hall will start at 7.30pm.

More information is available at www.upstart.scot