Chippie making up policy on the hoof

Stuff reports:

A decision to stop parents being able to send their children to school before their fifth birthday was announced by the Education Minister before it had been through the Cabinet process.

Under the previous government, cohort entry was introduced which allowed schools to adopt an optional policy of letting pupils start school up to eight weeks before their fifth birthday.

Labour opposed starting school at 4-years-old and last week Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed to Stuff that schools who wanted to adopt the policy at the start of next year could continue to do so, but legislation would be passed next year limiting cohort entry to children over 5-years-old.

This policy change will mean some parents won’t be able to have their kids start school at age six.

If a school does cohort entry (which many schools will do, as it can be easier for kids and teachers to have a cohort of kids start together, rather than say a new one every few days), then you may do a cohort every three months or so.

Now if you can’t enrol your kid until they are five, then it means you may have to wait until the kid is say five years three months for the next cohort, rather than go in at say four years 11 months and two weeks.

So Labour’s change will mean less flexibility for parents and some kids being blocked from entering their local school until they are well past their fifth birthday.

Legislative changes usually go through Cabinet, or at least a Cabinet committee, before an announcement so advice can be sought from ministry officials.

Through written parliamentary questions Kaye found Ardern received no reports or briefings on the issue before Hipkins announced the policy change.

That meant there “could not have been a Cabinet paper on the law change which is startling given it affects thousands of children”, she said.

“It looks like Mr Hipkins unilaterally made the decision to change the law without going through the proper Cabinet process.”

So the policy was announced on the hoof, with an advice or analysis on impact for families.

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