Education Act update: cohort entry and compulsory attendance

The updated Education Act means changes for new entrants - some may start school in groups, and they must attend regularly.

Consulting on cohort entry

Changes to the Education Act mean that from 3 July 2017, schools will be able to start consulting with their communities on whether to introduce cohort entry.

Cohort entry is when new entrants start school in groups throughout the year, at the start of each school term, rather than on their fifth birthday. 

If your local school is interested in introducing cohort entry, it must consult with parents of prospective and current students, as well as its staff and local early childhood services me ngā kōhanga reo. 

The school has to decide whether the community finds the policy generally acceptable, before deciding to introduce cohort entry. 

If your school introduces cohort entry, the earliest your child can start under a cohort entry policy will be Term 1, 2018. This means that even if your school has introduced a cohort entry policy, for the remainder of 2017 your child may still start school on their fifth birthday. 

You can still choose to delay your child’s start until the beginning of a later term or until age six if you are concerned about their readiness for school. 

Compulsory attendance takes effect

Education Act changes also mean that from 3 July 2017 children under the age of six must regularly attend school once they are enrolled.

Previously there was no compulsion for children to attend regularly until their sixth birthday.

If your child would benefit from a graduated transition to school, speak to the school principal about the possibility of developing a transition plan which will need to be agreed between you, the school principal and the Ministry of Education. Once the transition plan is in place, your child will need to attend school in accordance with that plan.

Once a child has started school (any time before the age of six,) if issues emerge that mean full time attendance is difficult then a transition plan can be put in place.

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