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EDITIONS
Monday, 28 October, 2002, 15:16 GMT
Call to raise primary school age
Nursery
Children would have a transitional year after nursery
Proposals to raise the starting age for primary school pupils to six have been unveiled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The party wants to bring in a transition year between nursery and primary education.

This would allow youngsters to develop social skills before starting their formal education, the Lib Dems said.


During that transition year you could look at developing the child's social skills, doing so in a less formal setting

Jim Wallace
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader
The idea was contained in a policy document published ahead of the Scottish Liberal Democrats' autumn conference.

Party leader Jim Wallace told BBC Radio Scotland that Scandinavian countries such as Denmark already had such a system in place.

"The indications are that this is a system which does work well in other countries," said the deputy first minister.

He said it would build on what had already been achieved in Scotland with pre-school provision for three and four-year-olds.

"There ought to be proper consultation and discussion as to whether you would enhance the prospects of our children in primary education if formal education was delayed for a year," said Mr Wallace.

Wide range

"During that transition year you could look at developing the child's social skills, doing so in a less formal setting."

He said that the current system meant that parents faced an "agonising" decision about when their child should start primary school.

Mr Wallace said that classes could contain children from four-and-a-half up to almost six years of age.

"That's quite a wide range for the teacher to teach," he said.

"We want to see if we can take advantage of a transitional year to try and develop the child's social skills before they get down to formal education, so they are more mature when they go into formal primary education."

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Scottish Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace
"The indications are that this is a system which does work well in other countries"
See also:

17 Oct 02 | Scotland
09 Oct 02 | Scotland
25 Jun 02 | Scotland
23 May 02 | Scotland
20 Mar 02 | Scotland
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