The SWSF supports the call from Dr Richard House, education campaigner and child psychologist, for a new approach to early childhood education in the light of current research. Dr. House, in a speech to the Westminster Education Forum, claims that there is now sufficient evidence that an early school starting age is bad for children. He is calling on the Prime Minister to intervene and wants to see the following action from the government:
- make the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) voluntary rather than statutory;
- extend the EYFS to the end of the sixth year;
- consider, via an independent inquiry, raising the statutory school starting age to 6
- allow schools the flexibility to allow children to repeat a year
In Steiner schools pupils start formal learning, i.e. writing, reading and numeracy in class one at the age of six, the norm in many European countries and an approach supported by a significant body of research to which Dr. House makes reference. Cognitive skills can be introduced with relative ease if children have first had the opportunity to develop speech, co-ordination and their relationship to themselves, others and the world around them during the pre-school years and in Kindergarten.