education.govt.nz

Consulting on cohort entry

Issue: Volume 96, Number 11

Posted: 26 June 2017
Reference #: 1H9dLH

The recent changes to the Education Act mean schools can fully adopt cohort entry after they’ve consulted with their school staff, the parents of current and prospective students, and local early childhood services and kōhanga reo. Consultations can begin from 3 July 2017.

Boards must then consider whether the community finds the policy generally acceptable, before deciding to introduce cohort entry.

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) will be providing assistance and advice to schools on consulting with their local communities,” says NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr.

“NZSTA will be producing additional resources to guide schools through this process. The experienced team in our Advisory and Support Centre are available to assist school boards. Regular updates and guidance on cohort entry, and other aspects of the updated Education Act will also be outlined in STAnews.”

Cohort entry is about helping children settle better in school. There is evidence that starting school alongside other children helps build relationships and supports a smoother entry to school life.

It can also mean less disruption for new entrant teachers who are able to prepare for groups of children arriving on a specific date rather than on an individual and ad hoc basis throughout the year.

Children will be able to start at a school with cohort entry at the beginning of the term closest to their fifth birthday, or the beginning of a later term (but the child must be enrolled to start school by their sixth birthday). This means that some children, depending on when in the term their birthday falls, will be able to start school up to eight weeks before they turn five, while other children will have to wait up to eight weeks after their fifth birthday before they can start school.

Parents will continue to have the option of not starting their child in school until their sixth birthday, regardless of whether or not the school they enrol in has a cohort entry policy.

If a school does not have a cohort entry policy, parents can continue to enrol their child on a date of their choosing, for example on their fifth birthday (subject to the school’s age of acceptance, zoning requirements and the legal requirement that they must be enrolled to start school by their sixth birthday).

The earliest students will enter a school with a cohort entry policy will be term 1, 2018. Schools need to give at least one term’s notice of the change before the policy takes effect. This is so that parents, schools and early learning services affected have time to plan for the change.

The precise cut-off dates for each term will be published in the Education Gazette and on the Ministry of Education’s website.

Further information on processes for consultation and managing cohort entry will be provided on NZSTA’s website(external link)

Also see the Ministry of Education fact sheet Enabling schools to introduce cohort entry(external link)

Compulsory attendance takes effect

From 3 July 2017, changes relating to compulsory attendance at school take effect.

The updated Education Act requires children under the age of six to regularly attend school once they are enrolled. Previously there was no compulsion for children to attend regularly until their sixth birthday.

The changes have been made because regular attendance in the first year of school supports the development of positive attitudes to learning and provides a sound foundation for future learning and achievement.

Parents need to consider whether their child is ready for regular attendance at school before enrolling them. A later transition to school based on a judgement about the child’s maturity and readiness for school is likely to support better educational outcomes than an earlier transition in which a child attends school irregularly.

Where a child would benefit from a staggered transition to school, a transition plan can be agreed between the child’s parents, the school principal and the Ministry of Education.

NZSTA will be the main provider of support to boards and will have guidance available on their website www.nzsta.org.nz.

Also see the Ministry of Education fact sheet Requiring compulsory attendance at school for under sixes(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:00 am, 26 June 2017

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