Request for feedback on Te Rito Maioha draft submission on cohort entry options

The 2017 law change making it easier for schools to use cohort entry allowed some children to start school before they were five.

In response to feedback from parents and teachers, the new Government wants to keep cohort entry but will change the law so that children do not start school before they are five.

Government is now consulting on how schools that adopt cohort entry should be able to start new entrants. The intent is to clarify how schools apply the cohort entry policy, while retaining the choice to offer continuous entry instead.

Government is seeking comment on two options:

  • Option One – Allowing new entrants to start school in a group at the beginning of each term

  • Option Two – Allowing new entrants to start school in a group at the beginning of the term and at the mid-point of the term.

Government wants to know which is the preferred option, and why, or if there are other options that should be considered. It also wants to know if the law should let schools choose between the options, and what impact the two options will have on children, families, whanau, early learning services and schools.

Cohort entry could have a significant impact on early learning services. Te Rito Maioha is drafting a submission in response to the Ministry of Education’s request for feedback.

Te Rito Maioha position

While Te Rito Maioha has concerns about cohort entry, of the two options proposed we would advocate for option one. We think that, regardless of which option prevails, schools must be supported to implement cohort entry appropriately.

We think:

  1. ·         Schools must have access to robust guidance on what authentic consultation looks like – for example, we do not support consultation through Kāhui Ako alone, as not all ECE services are part of a Kāhui Ako or are able to attend the meetings.  

  2. ·         Government and schools must take care to find the right balance between presumed administrative efficiencies and children’s welfare – with the latter being more important.

  3. ·         Schools offering cohort entry must be able to demonstrate what processes they have in place to successfully settle large groups of new entrants into school.

  4. ·         Education Review Office should scrutinise schools’ cohort entry processes as part of routine reviews and as a national evaluation topic (that takes into account impact on schools and early learning services). 

  5. ·         Government should take into account the potential financial impact on early learning services of children leaving in groups to start school. We would be dismayed if, as a result of schools adopting cohort entry, early learning services started implementing a similar scheme for their new enrolments as a way to avoid roll and funding fluctuations. We do not consider it safe and respectful practice to settle young children into early learning in groups.

  6. ·         Another consideration is the financial burden a delayed school start may have on parents, even though it is somewhat offset by continued access to 20 Hours ECE until the child starts school.

We are interested to know if these points accurately reflect the views of our membership. Please email us with your comments to by 12 March 2018.

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