School-entry for over fives – feedback sought

Parents, whānau, teachers and education experts are invited to have their say on options for grouped (cohort) entry into schools for children aged five and over, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“This government supports schools having the option of coordinating new starters in a group, or cohort, for their convenience and the benefit of their students – but we agree with the overwhelming advice of education experts that the age at which children start school should be five or over,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Therefore, we do not support the changes made last year by the previous government that allowed children to start school before they turn five, and we are proposing to remove that option.

“There was no evidence to support it and many submitters expressed concern at the time, but were ignored.

“The evidence is overwhelming that young kids are better off playing and learning outside a structured school environment, and even at age five, New Zealand already allows children to start school earlier than many other countries,

“The Ministry of Education is today starting consultation on two options, which will guide a change to the Education Act later this year so that schools wanting to offer grouped entry can only do so for children after they turn five.”

The options are:

  • Grouped (cohort) entry once per term, at the start of the term;
  • Grouped (cohort) entry twice per term, at the start of the term and at the term mid-point.

The Ministry of Education is also interested in hearing whether submitters think that schools should have the ability to choose between either of these options if they choose to introduce grouped entry. 

Schools will also be able to continue with continuous entry if they chose to.

Mr Hipkins said so far just under 50 schools have adopted a grouped entry policy that allows them to start new entrants before their fifth birthday.

These schools would still be able to continue with this policy until the legislation is changed, when they would need to consult with their communities to decide whether to adopt the new model of cohort entry or whether to return to continuous entry.                                                                                                          

The Ministry of Education will run the consultation from today until Monday 19 March. Anyone interested in taking part can make a submission, details are available at

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