Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ decision to take away parents’ ability to have their children start school in the weeks before their fifth birthday is nanny-state and ideologically driven, National Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“National made changes to give schools and parents the option of enrolling children in groups at the start of each term. This means some children, at the request of their parents, can start school at the most eight weeks before their fifth birthday rather than waiting until the next term,” Ms Kaye says.

“However the Education Minister believes he knows better than parents and will change the law so that children cannot start school before the age of five.

“The law change will mean that some children will have to wait longer than their fifth birthday to start at the school that their parents have chosen for them if that school has adopted cohort entry.

“The good news is that the Minister appears to be saying that cohort entry for children five and over will stay in the law and can be adopted by schools that want it.

“Cohort entry is about helping children to settle better in school. Many parents know that a child arriving at school on their own can feel self-conscious and out of place. Experts on early learning argued for this change because they believe it will make the transition easier. We also know that some schools were already doing cohort entry as they consider it offers kids the best start to their school life.

“National backs schools to know what is right for their community and believes in parents being able to choose when the right time to send their child to school is.

“This is the latest example of the Labour Party deciding it knows better than parents, following their decision to deny parents the choice to take paid parental leave together. New Zealanders know what is best for themselves and their families.”

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