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Are There Benefits to Delayed School Age?

Info: 8475 words (34 pages) Dissertation
Published: 22nd Dec 2021

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Tagged: Education


The World Statistics website shows that in 2016 88% of countries worldwide had a school starting age of six or seven (World Statistics, 2016). Early childhood is recognised worldwide as a crucial stage. In Finland, for example, it is not uncommon for children to begin formal schooling at the age of seven. Much of their childhood is spent either at home or in a form of pre-kindergarten, where playtime and social skills are the biggest emphases, and traditional subjects like numeracy and literacy do not even enter the picture until later in their childhood.

In England, children start formal schooling and the formal teaching of numeracy and literacy at the age of five. Today, for many children, nursery education is their only opportunity for the outdoor, active and creative play which psychologists recognise as vital for social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. This period of life sets the foundation of everything that is to come later in life. Children learn whether the world is a fearful or exciting place, and this is when they establish vital relationships and facilitate human development. As soon as a child comes into the world they start to absorb information and experiences. They come into the world all uniquely different and full of potential, experiencing the diversity that is human society. Conscious and unconscious motivations drive a person’s individual behaviour and responses, and the process of learning is a social, interactive and dynamic one, where every child must adapt to their unique life circumstance.

Evidence from a variety of sources reveal that the ‘earlier is better’ approach that England follows in relation to the early years is misguided and does not lead to beneficial outcomes in the long term, along with the harmful and long-term consequences that come with it. This project will research into whether there are benefits of delayed school age by looking at secondary research which has investigated this issue previously by conducting research projects in the Scandinavian countries, and around the world. Furthermore, it will research into whether starting school too soon has any long-term disadvantages or health impacts on children’s lives.


To answer the research question; Are There Benefits to Delayed School age? And find out the advantages and disadvantages of starting school at an early age, this project will be carried out by using data and resources that were collected from secondary resources such as online journals, published reports, educational websites, educational newspaper articles and books. Both quantitative and qualitative information will be gauged from the entire accessible source. Qualitative Research will be used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. Qualitative Research will also help to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the question in hand. Quantitative Research will be used to quantify the research by generating numerical data, and to quantify attitudes, opinions, and behaviours. This type of research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research.

The decision was made to only use secondary resources due to the young age of the children that are being researched within this project, in addition to the short time frame that is available to collect the relevant information needed to carry out this research.

Education in England

The earliest years in a child’s life are critical. There is vast international evidence that foundations are laid in the first years of life, which can have a permanent and detrimental impact on children’s longer-term development if not done correctly. A child’s future wellbeing, attainment, happiness and choices are profoundly affected by the quality of the guidance, love and care they receive during these first years. Children spend a considerable amount of time with their parents or carers during these early years, but then also spend an increasing amount of time in a wide range of early years settings. Parents and carers are the people who have the most important influence on children’s early development, however, evidence shows that good quality early years provision also has a large impact on a child’s longer-term outcome (Gov, 2010).

In education, the right school starting age is one of the longest running and most divided issues, and an ongoing debate in Britain which is pushing opinions to extremes. In Europe, Britain has one of the lowest starting ages, where compulsory schooling starts at the age of five (Four in Northern Ireland), with only Malta and Cyprus having the same school start age. Most other European countries start at six or seven, after several years of quality early years education. In 2009, the Cambridge Review of Primary Education, organised by Professor Robin Alexander recommended raising the school starting age in England, on evidence-based grounds that an early-start regime dents children’s confidence and risks long-term damage to their learning (Palmer, 2016). But this research did not fit their policy. This lack of understanding about the way young children learn is illustrated in the most influential government document of the time, Every Child Matters, upon which all major policy was based. A New Zealand study compared children who learned to read at five against those who learned at seven. Not only had the children who learned later caught up to their peers by age, they also demonstrated better comprehension and more positive attitudes to reading (Whitebread, 2013).

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries educationalists such as Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), Frederick Froebel (1782- 1852) and Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) developed educational programmes based on observations of intellectual development. They believed that the first seven years of a child’s life was for play. Psychologist’s Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980), and Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) provided scientific evidence that the first seven years of a child’s cognitive development is qualitatively different from later stages (Bates, 2016). Since this study, there has been a significant difference between the ethos of early years educational systems worldwide and those of traditional schooling (Palmer, 2016). According to a recent study by the Cambridge Primary Review, the assumption that an early starting age is beneficial for children’s later attainment is not well supported in the research and therefore remains open to question (Cambridge Review, 2006).

In 1998, then Prime Minister Tony Blair, introduced the National Strategies for literacy and numeracy, based on tests and targets and performance leagues for schools. Standardised testing has dominated English primary education since, resulting in England having the most tested children in the world (Downs, 2016). Children are subjected to far more exams than those in education systems of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There is no other country in the world that has nationally designated tests dominating children from five to eighteen years old (Downs, 2016).

The education system in England is divided into four main parts, primary education (ages four – eleven), secondary education (ages eleven – eighteen), further education and higher education. Children in England must legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from five years old until the student is eighteen years old. Before children start primary education at the age of four, most children attend nursery at the age of three, before starting in the reception year at school in the September following their fourth birthday. This is due to fifteen hours of free funding that all children in England receive (Gov, 2018).

In Finland, the education system consists of day-care programmes (babies – six years) and a one-year compulsory pre-school for six-year olds, after which is followed by a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school (seven – sixteen years). After the nine-year basic education, students at the age of sixteen may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track or a vocational track, both of which usually take three years and give a qualification to continue to tertiary education (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018).

In 2008 the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was introduced in England to provide a framework to deliver consistent and high-quality environments for all children in pre-school settings and the Reception year of primary school, recognising the importance of play at this period in a child’s life. It is intended to provide clear information and standards on how children learn and develop in these earliest years in a format that is easily understood and applied by practitioners. Vygotsky’s research had a huge influence on how the early years settings work today. He encouraged the practitioner to focus on providing challenge for the child through experiences and activities that make the child think above their capabilities, enabling the child to work within their own capabilities in the zone of actual development, but with assistance from an adult or a peer which extends their thoughts, and work within the proximal development (Bates, 2016). After the Reception year children move up to Year One where they start formal education and are taught following the National Curriculum.

We know that for a child to be successful in an educational environment they must be able to engage with their peers and understand the basics, such as the alphabet and counting to twenty-five. What is less understood, however, is how much the age at which a child starts kindergarten may influence their future academic and life success. The question is even more significant when a child is born in the summer, close to the cut-off date for entry. One of the problems with starting school at a younger age is that summer born children are nine months behind some of their peers. There is plenty of evidence that children who start school soon after they turn four, thrive less well throughout the education system than those who are nearly five at the beginning of the school year (Palmer, 2016). A year’s difference at that age amounts to a quarter of their entire life. A study by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek of children whose parents send them to academic preschools versus traditional preschools that emphasize play and discovery found that children in academic preschools had no short-term, or long-term academic advantages. By the time they were in the first grade, the research could not distinguish between the intellectual skills of the children who had academic training and those who had none. However, there was on difference; the children who had had the academic environment were more anxious and less creative than the children of the other group (Hirsh-Pasek, 2003).

In England there are so any government requirements to make each child a reader, writer, counter and problem solver that there is a failure to consider how imperative it is that such focus should only be addressed at developmentally appropriate time, when a child is not only considered able, but ready too. In early years such compulsory targets have enormous potential for diverting practitioners and parents away from quality time with children into an increasingly time-consuming and unproductive bureaucracy. The outcome is more schooling of young children before they have fully incarnated.

Finnish Education

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings (OECD, 2003). Finnish education has gone through substantial policy and structural reforms since the 1960s, moving from a selective to fully comprehensive system. These reforms appear to have been highly successful as Finnish student’s performances on a series of international comparative assessments have placed them best or amongst the best in the world. One of the basic principles of Finnish education is that all people must have equal access to high-quality education and training. The same educational opportunities should be available to all citizens irrespective of their ethnic origin, age, wealth or where they live (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018).

From the age of eight months, all children have access to free, full-day day-care and kindergarten. Preschool education begins in the year a child becomes six years of age and takes place in a child care center, commonly referred to as a kindergarten. All children under school-age have a subjective right to early childhood education and care. Municipalities are obligated to provide pre-primary education, and the municipality in which a child lives must provide them with a place in either a municipal kindergarten or a private child care program (including family home care). Pre-school education is intended for six-year-olds, who will start their compulsory education in the following year (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018).

Preschool-age children can attend half-day programs which are free, or full-day programs which charge a subsidized fee. About 70% of children in pre-primary education attend full-day child care (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018). It could be argued that parents in England benefit financially by children starting school earlier as they do not need to pay any fees. In Finland, parents pay according to a scale based on income, with low-income families not required to pay any fees, similar to the British childcare system provided by the government. In preprimary and basic education, the textbooks, daily meal and transportation for students living further away from the school are free for the parents. If the child is in day care, the day-care position will be retained, even if they do not attend every day, as family time is a very important part of Finnish life. Finnish kids spend less time in schools than children in England

Supported by their kindergarten practitioners, Finnish children start to read, write and do simple calculations before they start primary school. There are plenty of activities led by the teacher, starting with very simple and short sessions for the three-year olds, which grows steadily longer and more specific as the child gets older. Preschool, children learn mathematics, environmental and natural awareness as well as art and culture which are mainly picked up through play and material-based leaning, there are no worksheets to fill out as there is in British schools. Some of the activities hone in on skills that underpin the three R’s, and some on the aspects of development. However, they are all entirely oral, so spoken language and listening skills through story and song are constantly developed and emphasised throughout the day (Palmer, 2016) whilst they are still learning the three Rs. So, this shows they are not missing out as they are learning these through a fun educational way. This, however does not occur in the English early years settings as there is little time to devote to them as the need for formal learning is greater. The Finnish Kindergarten schools do all the play-based activities seen in a good British setting, but with gentle emphasis on song, story and language development (Palmer, 2011).

Finland places considerable weight on early education. Before Finnish children learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be children, how to play with one another, and how to mend emotional wounds. This is because their welfare policies emphasise the civic role of the state in facilitating quality of life and wellbeing among all its citizens. Quality state-supported early childhood care and education is a core part of these welfare policies. Nordic countries have led the way in providing working mothers and fathers with the services needed to allow them to balance their working and family lives. They have created a sustainable childcare system that is equally enviable in securing for all children, regardless of economic means or circumstances.

Finland gives priority to parental involvement in the early years, offering flexibility in childcare options, physical interaction, outdoor play and learning through guided experience until their school starting age. After maternity leave in Finland, you can take parental leave and receive parental allowance. Fathers can also take parental leave or parents may share the leave (Inhabitots, 2013), allowing more family time. In England working mothers must return to work after their maternity pay stops at around ten months. There is nothing in place to encourage or help the mother stay at home with their child for longer.

The principle aims of the Finnish curriculum are to promote the child’s overall well-being so as to ensure the best possible conditions for learning, growth and development. Hence, the child is able to enjoy the company of others, experiencing joy and freedom of action in an unhurried, safe atmosphere, which is very similar to the Rudolf Steiner (1862 – 1925) approach which is valued by the Finnish Ministry of Education, and is notably unhurried.

This unhurried mood embraces everything that the child experiences: the presentation of activities; the structure of the day; the attention to detail; the patient nurturing of the nurturing individual child and care for the environment; the assessment of school readiness; and most importantly, the Steiner foundation stage extends to the sixth birthday. In Finnish education, children are not encouraged to read or write, or do maths until they are six or seven, and passing exams is not the be-all and end-all, all of which are devised from the Steiner approach (Triggiano, 2014).

The success of the Finnish school is measured instead, on turning out well balanced, all rounded confident individuals with a strong sense of self and self-esteem, with the skills required to concentrate, research and learn. Another similarity to the Steiner approach is that teachers are free to choose their own instructional methods, select their own textbooks, and create their own assessments based on common learning goals. These principles are not followed by the British Education system due to vigorous targets, and expectations that the schools must meet, which forces children into compulsory early education, and crams numerous amounts of information into them with tests and exams.

Fredrich Froebel (1782) was one of the first teachers to develop an early learning theory and had similar theories to Steiner. He set up the Institute of Play and Activity for Small Children and devised the term ‘kindergarten’. Here children engaged in free pay, singing, gardening, dancing and playing with toys (Palmer, 2016). His methods helped form those of the Kindergarten’s in Finland. Froebel’s theory comprises all the processes that form the focus of early childhood education: care, education, teaching, development, learning, and socialisation. (Harkonen, 2006). Finnish Kindergarten’s have writing areas and library corners where children can choose to go during their free playtime, and there are role-play areas. So many children in Finland arrive at primary school with good levels of emergent literacy, without being pushed to read and write before they are ready. Formal teaching of literacy skills waits until the children are physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively equipped to succeed (Palmer, 2011).

In Finland there are just twelve students per teacher, meaning students have sufficient teacher interaction in the classroom. In some schools in Britain, depending on if funds will permit a Teaching Assistant for the class, there can be up to thirty children to one teacher. According to Statistics Finland, current expenditure on education totalled to EUR 12.2 billion in 2017 (Statistic Finland, 2018), which was less than what was spent in Britain (UK Public Spending, 2018). However, Finland has less people to educate than Britain does, so classes are smaller, and less money is spent. Finnish educational outcomes are measured using form sample-based surveys. School selection is outlawed, as well as formal examinations until the age of sixteen (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2018). Competition, choice, privatisation and league tables do not exist in Finland, nor do inspections. Free school meals, tentatively endorsed for younger pupils and those on welfare only in Britain, are universally provided. Pupils are generally more content too: a quality-not-quantity approach means school hours are shorter and homework duties are light. Finnish children are happier and less stressed than their British contemporaries which could be due to the shorter hours and no exam stress, which is a problem in British schools.

Finland puts particular emphasis on the importance of social development and communicative skills, together with the importance of family and community. They have demonstrated their belief that nurturing of self-confidence, independence and competence is of more importance than the acquisition of knowledge and specific abilities. England has consistently been criticised for its stance in this area, and communicative and social skills even now remain secondary to attainment of specific learning goals. The Programme for International Student Assessment, shows that The United Kingdom has tumbled down the rankings, according to tests recently taken by an international sample of fifteen-year olds. When thirty-two countries took part in the survey, in 2000, the United Kingdom came seventh in reading skills, however, the figures in 2009, show that the United Kingdom has fallen to twenty-fifth place.

The Benefits of Play and Child Development

Montessori famously said, ‘Play is a child’s work’. If an activity is motivating, it is play and the child is learning something (Palmer, 2016: 37). One of the great benefits of play is it allows the child to learn through trial and error, while making connections with previous learning and transferring knowledge and understanding from one area of play to another (Daly and Byers, 2016). Piaget (1896 – 1990) played a leading role in the development of the view that play may be of crucial importance in children’s cognitive development. Piaget’s theories about learning emphasised the need for children to explore and experiment for themselves. For Piaget, play was a means by which children could develop and refine concepts before they had the ability to think in the abstract (Bates, 2016). The Plowden Report (1967) is based firmly on Piaget’s theory, focussing on a curriculum based on children’s individual needs and interests and that play should be an integral part for children to learn (Gillard, 2004).

Play is spontaneous, child directed and controlled, and children play because that is what children want to do. While play can be facilitated by an adult, it cannot be managed or directed, and it cannot have an actual purpose. An activity or game, such as a jigsaw puzzle that is managed by an adult, and for an adult purpose, may be fun for a child so they willingly do and learn something from it, but this is not play. Real play is integral to the development of all children everywhere and it means children finding out about their particular world and how it works, and at their own pace they will discover and develop their own abilities and acquire adult skills.

Play supports both learning and practice, but it could also be questioned as to how much play is valued amongst professionals working with children. In England, when children go to formal school, play is often reserved for a reward for a child finishing their work, or for an activity to occupy a child, rather than a vehicle for learning. Formal teaching takes priority and diminishes play opportunities in order to meet academic targets, with play only coming into force during the Foundation Stage, where the majority of learning takes place through child or adult-initiated play. Children in Britain are growing up in a society where they have much less freedom to play outside and socialise with other children away from an adult. However, Finnish Kindergarten’s normalise real play which is also encouraged out of school. Generally, Finnish children are raised to be independent from an early age and it is quite common to see them outside on their bikes or playing with other children in the area without adult supervision. Children are equipped with suitable clothing for outdoor play in all weathers, and plenty of outdoor space and toys are provided. The only time when the children will not go outside is when the temperature reaches below minus fifteen degrees centigrade. In England, if the weather is unpleasant, children are kept inside the school. Finnish early years education concentrates on preparing the whole child ready for formal learning by developing physical skills through outdoor play and indoor games and activities, and developing the auditory system through singing, speaking and listening to stories

The value of play in children’s learning has been researched for many years. Play is a vital ingredient for all four development strands: physical, emotional, social and cognitive., and some psychologists claim it is as essential to children’s physical and mental state as food and sleep (Palmer, 2016). Play is recognised by the United Nations in Article 31of the Convention on the A Rights of the Child as being a fundamental human right for every child (UNICEF, 2015). The British government is responsible for ensuring that all children can enjoy that right. It is a public policy issue and should be a priority. Article 31 features in the Every Child Matters policy which the British National Curriculum is based on, however, in England this cannot always be implemented within schools, as when a child moves to Key Stage one, the amount of play demises, as educational targets need to be met, so children have less rights. This is not the case in Finland, as play is encouraged in schools and children’s rights feature heavily in their curriculum. Jean Piaget argued that experiencing the world in three dimensions by physically interacting with it is essential for cognitive development (Bates, 2016). Throwing things, hitting things, and putting things into water or sand are all crucial for young children’s development.

Advantages of play over sedentary instruction include: opportunities for movement, which enable the embodiment of learning and strengthening of the central nervous system. Interactions with adults, and other children promote the development of a theory of mind in each child (Gopnik et al, 1999), as well as engagement in everyday life, which may form the basis for democratic understanding. Children’s emotional development, resilience and self-esteem are promoted by play, as it contributes to their holistic development (Howard, 2010). Play is widely viewed as an effective way in which children learn, in both England and Finland with both their curriculum outlines or frameworks making some reference to play. There is reason to think, however, that the concerted focus on raising educational standards throughout Britain has resulted in an increased emphasis on adult-led learning and a loss of ground for play as a child-led learning process, particularly in the middle years of childhood. A further aspect highlighted by Peter Blatchford (1998) in his study of school playtimes is that many primary schools in England have reduced the amount of time that children have to themselves for spontaneous play and socialising in playgrounds. Blatchford suggests that this reduction is designed to increase the amount of teaching time in classrooms. As well as allowing children to learn those things that adults deem important, school, and specifically playtime, provides children with important opportunities to meet and develop relationships with each other. This social dimension of school is a very important part of the hidden curriculum.

In England, compulsory school starting age is set at five, although most of the children start school at four. The cut-off date is the same at the beginning of the school year, with the result that children born in August can start school in the September, just after their fourth birthday. These children are in every sense biologically and developmentally nine-twelve months younger than their peers who were born earlier on in the academic year. So, in many cases are placed in an academic disadvantage if forced into reading and writing before they are developmentally ready to do so. The EYFS set out up to 500 developmental milestones between birth and primary school and required the under-fives to reach targets on sixty-nine writing, problem solving and numeracy skills. While many aims were praiseworthy, several of the specific learning goals and targets in relation to reading and writing and numeracy skills failed to take developmental stages, neurological maturation and individual developmental differences into account.

Children who are forced into reading and writing at the expense of developing the supporting physical skills before they are ready risk experiencing specific learning difficulties and under-achievement later on. Emphasis on literacy and numeracy outcomes (targets) failed to consider that in early development there are crucial development windows for developing certain skills at various times. Reading, writing, listening, the ability to sit still and focus attention on one task without being distracted, are all linked in the functioning of the central nervous system. This is developed through physical play and reflected in the physical skills such as postural control, balance, coordination and eye movement control. Eye movement control is essential for reading, writing, copying, catching a ball and the ability to ignore irrelevant visual stimuli within a given visual filed to focus on just one task.


To conclude, it is evident from data that the achievement gap is widening, mental health problems among children is spring out of control and educational results are nowhere near as impressive as those of countries with play-based kindergartens. The society is overwhelmingly out of balance, obsessed with statistics, systems and monetary measures of success. Human strengths that underpin social health and wellbeing have been lost, however, if kindness was prioritised in the treatment of young children allowing them a few carefree years of play before starting formal education, faith in human nature could be reaffirmed. Trusting children’s ability to learn through play when supported by highly attuned and well qualified early years workforce. Children should not be required to ripen early, and they should not be required to be what people think they should be, whether at home or at school. Parents and teachers can be the sowers of healthy developmental seeds in the early years; but the harvest must be left to the children, and not quantified and managed with bureaucracy designed to inform the State, with little if any benefit to the child.

The introduction of a kindergarten stage in England would free the child from pressures of school at the most formative stage of their lives, while sorting out any problems that may arise before formal schooling starts. There’s long-standing research evidence that few children are physically competent to write letters and numbers at the age of five, most when they are six, with some not until they are seven. The evidence is overwhelming that starting school at an early age is damaging both to individual children and to the English culture more generally. Educators, parents and policy-makers have a grave responsibility to arrest and reverse the adultification of children and childhood in whatever ways they can.

While most six-year-olds in the UK are subject to national tests, those in Finland have not even started formal schooling yet. When they do, the teacher’s judgment alone is trusted in assessing students. No one, either within or outside the school, demands that it’s done their way and to their timetable. And no one uses the data to construct league tables or put pressure on schools. Provision internationally for this age group tends to involve an active, play-based approach, encouraging self-management and independence among young children.

Proponents of a later school starting age often cite arguments from developmental psychology, which can suggest that children aged four and five may not be ready for formal education. However, other studies have concluded that younger children are not disadvantaged by attending school early. Those who support an early school starting age suggest that children can get a head start in learning and that it can help children from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, these arguments do not appear to be supported by the evidence. For example, while there is an initial educational benefit for young children starting school early, this is not sustained in the long-term, and there is little evidence that an early start can make up for any deficiencies in the home learning environment of young children. However, it is widely acknowledged that the youngest children in a year group tend to perform at a lower level than their older classmates. This birthdate effect is found to be greatest at pre-school and primary school, continually decreasing throughout post-primary school. Research suggests that the youngest children in the year group tend to be less mature than their older counterparts, and that teachers may not make sufficient allowances for their level of attainment.

In Finland with the older school starting age, there is structured preschool provision available for a period before the compulsory school starting age (usually one or two years). Finland provides early years education and care for every child under compulsory school age. If England were to follow and have the beneficial effects that Finland does, the years between three and seven must be seen to be a completely separate stage in a child’s education. To achieve a genuine paradigm shift, the nation’s electorate must demand its government to change its law. A change of law signals a change in the national value-system, which raises awareness of the issues, and ensures that everyone engages with the paradigm shift. If the law were to be changed, there would be economic implications. They would have to ensure that there was funding for three to four years of kindergarten for all children. Appropriate buildings and facilities for the care and education of children aged three to seven with appropriate outdoor space, and a workforce with the professional knowledge and skills to support children’s development would need to be in place.

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Palmer, S. (2011) If I Wanted My Child to Learn to Read and Write, I Wouldn’t Start from Here. Too Much, Too Little.  Stroud; Hawthorn Press

Palmer, S. (2016) Upstart, The Case for Raising the School Age and Providing What the Under-Sevens Really Need. Edinburgh: Floris Books.

Statistic Finland. (2018) Educational Finances. [Online] Available at URL: https://www.stat.fi/til/kotal/index_en.html. [Accessed on 12 June 2018]

Triggiano, C. (2014) How Do Finnish Schools Excel? [Online] Available at URL: http://chicagowaldorf.org/uploads/files/Finland_Education-by_Carol_Triggiano.pdf. [Accessed on 12 June 2018]

UK Public Spending. (2018) UK Budget Analyst. [Online] Available at URL: https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/education_budget_2017_2.html. [Accessed on 12June 2018]

UNICEF. (2007) An Overview of Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries. [Online] Available at URL: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/445-child-poverty-in-perspective-an-overview-of-child-well-being-in-rich-countries.html. [Accessed on 10 June 2018]

UNICEF. (2015) FACT SHEET: A Summary of the Rights Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. [Online] Available at URL: https://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf. [Accessed on 8 June 2018]

Venables, J. (2106) Harley.

Whitebread, D. (2013) School Starting Age: The Evidence. [Online] Available at URL: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence. [Accessed on 9 June 2018]

World Happiness Report. (2018) World Happiness Report 2018. [Online] Available at URL: https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2018/WHR_web.pdf. [Accessed on 10 June 2018] 

World Statistics. (2016) Primary school starting age (years). [Online] Available at URL: http://world-statistics.org/index-res.php?code=SE.PRM.AGES?name=Primary school starting age (years). [Accessed on 10 March 2018]

The Project Proposal


Group: Teacher Education

Group Tutor:

Contact Details:

List of course and institutions I am applying for:

  • Primary Education (3-7 years) BA(Hons) with QTS, University of Brighton
  • Primary and Early Years Education BA(Hons) with QTS, Sussex University

Title for project:

Are There Benefits to delayed school age?


This project will research whether children benefit from starting school at a later age as they do in Nordic countries such as Finland and Denmark. Finland have one of the best schooling systems in the world, and this is what the project will be focusing on.


The aim of this project is to find out if children would benefit from starting school at a later age, and whether they would benefit from having more time learning through play and longer, quality time with their families.


Main question under investigation: Do children benefit from starting school at a later age?

Questions to be addressed in my project in order to answer main question:

  • Are children starting school too young in the United Kingdom?
  • Are there benefits of a delayed school start?
  • Why is the Finnish school system so successful?
  • Do children who start school later perform better?
  • What are the effects of starting school too young?

Outline of proposed contents:


  • Introduction – 350 words

Introduce the topic and explain what the project will be about.

  • Methodology – 150 words

Talk about the topic and explain what research methods have been chosen and why these have been chosen.

  • The Benefits to Starting School at a Later Age – 1500 words

From information found from published reports and more.

  • Early Age Education in Finland – 500 words

From information found from published reports.

  • The Disadvantages of Starting School at a Later Age – 1500 words

From information found in published reports and more.

  • Recommendations/Proposal on the benefits of delayed school age – 800 words

Time plan for each stage of the research:

  • 07 February 2018

Research literature for project and complete project proposal.

  • 18 February 2018

Prepare for first draft using a minimum of 1000 words.

It should include at least one complete section.

It should include brief outlines of the remaining sections.

It should provide a substantial list of references, using the Harvard system

  • 02 April 2018

Prepare for second draft using a minimum of 4000 words. Test my hypothesis and/or clearly answered my main research questions. Is my main argument strong? Do I need to explore more resources? Have I imbedded material from my sources well?

  • 23 May 2018

Complete project ready for hand in date 13 June 2018

Literature Search

Name: Pathway: Date:

Teacher Education 07 February 2018

Working title of project:

‘Are There Benefits to Delayed School Age?’


Palmer, S. (2016) Upstart: The Case for Raising the School Age and Providing What the Under-Sevens Really Need. Edinburgh: Floris Books

In this book, the author makes a case for providing three to seven-year olds with proper a proper kindergarten stage, such as the one that Finland has. Giving the children time, space and support for the play and exploration that are needed in a child’s healthy development. The author brings in evidence from professionals to back up her case.

Clark, M. and Waller, T. (2007) Early Childhood Education and Care: Policy and Practice, London: SAGE Publications Ltd

This book brings together policy and practice in early childhood education and care across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It offers plenty of information and useful websites and addresses so that, importantly, readers can keep abreast of the rapidly changing external environment in these countries.

Whitebread, D. (2011) Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education, London: SAGE Publications Ltd

This book explores the importance of high quality early childhood education and how it is now universally recognised. This quality crucially depends upon the practitioners who work with young children and their understanding of how children develop and learn. This book makes a vital contribution to this understanding, providing authoritative reviews of key areas of research in developmental psychology, demonstrating how these can inform practice in early years educational settings.


Black, S. Devereux, P. and Salvanes, K. (2011) Too Young to Leave the Nest? The Effects of School Starting Age, Volume 93, Issue 2, May 2011, pp.455-467

Using Norwegian data, the effects of school starting age (SSA) are examined. It separates school starting age from test age effects using scores from IQ tests that are taken outside school at about age of 18 years old. It finds a small, negative effect of starting school older, but much larger and positive effects of age at test.

Electronic Sources

Durand, S. (2017). Finding the ‘Perfect’ School Starting Age. [Online] Available at URL: https://www.geteduca.com/blog/perfect-school-starting-age/ [Accessed on 07 February 2018]

This is an article on what age is best for children to start school, which discusses other countries and how starting school later benefits the child. This would be useful to use as quantitative data. This website is regularly updated with materials useful for my project.

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