Children ‘harmed by starting school aged four’

UK Telegraph 24 Feb 07
The long-term development of the majority of children is being harmed by them being forced to start school aged four, according to a study. Parents are coming under increasing pressure to enrol children early to make sure they get a place in the best schools, fuelling anxiety levels and damaging youngsters’ self-esteem, it is claimed. Latest Government figures show that almost 800,000 children in primary schools are aged four or younger, with around 80 per cent now entering before their fifth birthday. The shift is being blamed on schools which advise families to start children as early as possible to maximise Government funding.Experts warned last night that the development risked damaging a generation of children who are “not being allowed to grow up”. .. An influential study by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that an early introduction to school can “increase anxiety and have a negative impact on children’s self-esteem and motivation to learn”. Another study of 1,400 children in Glasgow found that boys who started at four-and-a-half were still at a disadvantage when they reached secondary school.;jsessionid=R4XTF01MMHHIHQFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/02/24/nedu24.xml