Assembly Written Question 1311/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister of Education whether he will introduce legislation to provide for a flexible school starting age.

Answer: The requirement for children who have reached the age of 4 by the 1st July to start primary school in September of that year is set out in Article 46 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. I have previously stated that I would consider whether changes to provide for a legal deferral is the most appropriate way forward and I have asked my officials to bring forward a paper to update previous proposals for deferring school starting age for my consideration. In determining the best way to proceed, it is essential that an in-depth analysis is undertaken to consider the immediate and longer term effects, including assessing the impact any change might have on the overall number of years a pupil spends in compulsory education. I will want to fully assess the options presented and I will then set out how I intend to proceed, including any possible requirements in terms of legislation.

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