In late July 2016, Will Hodgman, the premier of Tasmania, called for the lowering of the school starting age in that Australian state. Currently, Tasmanian children start attending school at the age of six-and-ahalf years.
Hodgman wants them to in class at the age of four-and-a-half. His call has earned him the respect of the Tasmanian Principals Association (TPA), whose president, Malcolm Elliott, has announced that the earlier children engage with each other in a formalised school environment, the better.
David Whitebread, from Cambridge University (UK), opposes the view, saying: “The overwhelming evidence suggests that five is simply too young to start formal learning. Children should be engaged in informal playbased learning until the age of about seven.”
Western Australia Primary Principals Association (WAPPA) president, Stephen Breen, agrees, adding that there is no firm evidence that starting school earlier will guarantee their chance of later academic success.
Breen believes that more preschools should be opened across Australia to allow for unpressured play time.