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Issues Concerning Starting School at Age 5 in the United Kingdom

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  • イギリスにおける5歳児就学の課題
  • イギリス ニ オケル 5サイジ シュウガク ノ カダイ

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Abstract

 Japan has a rigid system which distinguishes preschool facilities and primary schools. Therefore there are few arguments on how to divide early years education and primary education. In the UK, where children start school at age 5, there are a lot of discussions on the appropriate school starting age compared to Japan. In this paper, we examine the issues to be discussed when the school starting age is under question.<br> According to research evidence reviews, there is no compelling educational rationale for a school starting age of five. Research on the relationship between school starting age and academic attainment has shown that school starting age has little influence on later educational outcomes. It is not the educational setting per se that is advantageous for children’s learning, but the nature of that setting and the quality of teachers.<br> In 2000, Foundation Stage was introduced for children aged 3 through the end of reception year in England. For the first time in this country, reception year children were provided with a curriculum of their own, relevant to their needs. But at the same time, it must be pointed out that developments in early years education policy coincided with a drive to raise standards of academic achievement, with a particular focus on literacy and an emphasis on teaching and assessment.<br> The English government has commissioned a series of reports focusing on the significance of early years education in preparing children for success in later life. They are very concerned with children’s “readiness” to start primary education. The model of “readiness for school” has merits for the government as it prepares children who conform to classroom procedures and possess basic literacy skills.<br> From the point of view of early-years educators and researchers, the early years are recognized as a crucial stage in their own right, but the government persists in viewing it simply as a preparation for school. The demand of the educators and researchers is that the government stop such inappropriate intervention and leave early years education in the hands of those who truly understand the developmental needs of early years. They also advocate applying the principles of early education to Key Stage 1.<br> In 2008, Foundation Phase was introduced for children aged 3 to 7 in Wales. It aims to apply the principles and practice of early years education to Key Stage 1. It is the flagship policy of the Welsh government, but inspection reports evaluate that while generally the benefits are verified in children’s motivation and enjoyment of learning, it is not sufficient, particularly in the teaching of reading and writing skills.<br> Education reform comes downward from primary education to preschool education in England, while it comes upward from preschool education to primary education in Wales. So the vectors of reform seem contrary, but the two countries have the same issue to address: that is, the difficulty of the realization of principles of early years education within the primary school framework.

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