Starting school at 4 ‘no help to children’

UK Telegraph 08 February 2008

Children in England start school lessons earlier and sit more tests but still perform no better than in other countries, researchers say today. They find school “stressful” as they are subjected to academic lessons in English and maths at the age of four. In countries such as Sweden and Finland, where children do not start school until seven, pupils often outperform English children by the age of 11. English primaries are also bigger than in most other countries – with an average of 224 pupils against 128 in Scotland – and make pupils sit exams more often, at a younger age and in more subjects.

In a damaging conclusion, it is claimed more parents educate their children at home or in alternative Steiner schools because they believe schools are “too constrained by the imperatives of performativity”. The findings – made as part of a two-year review of primary education by Cambridge University – will fuel fears that the target-driven nature of modern schooling is damaging childhood.