Minister of Education Chris Hipkins indicated last week that he will change the new law that allows children to start school at the beginning of the term in which they turned five.

However some schools are already intending to adopt the cohort entry policy, which came into force in July this year.

The Ministry of Education says that schools that have a policy allowing four-year-olds to enter under cohort entry, can implement such a change at any time from Term 1 2018, until the Act is amended.

National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says the Minister’s approach has created confusion on the matter.

“Parents want to know well in advance when their child will be able to start school, and schools need to know so that they can prepare for their new entrants. But Mr Hipkins is sending mixed signals, leaving them with more questions than answers.

“For instance, how long will the existing law be in place? And will the new law mean that thousands of children will have to wait longer than their fifth birthday to start at the school their parents have chosen for them if that school has adopted cohort entry?

The current law stipulates that schools who do adopt cohort entry cannot revoke it without giving a term’s notice, so a timeline for a law change is needed to provide clarity for schools and parents.

The change to cohort entry is just one of many that the new Education Minister is making to the education system, with changes forthcoming for National Standards, NCEA, Partnership Schools, Communities of Learning, school donations and tertiary education.

The Ministry is advising all education providers to continue to use and implement current policy settings until they are officially changed.

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