Schools to start consulting on cohort entry

Schools considering introducing cohort entry will be able to start consulting with their communities from July 2017.

The recent changes to the Education Act mean schools can fully adopt cohort entry after they’ve consulted with their school staff, the parents of current and prospective students, and local early childhood services and kōhanga reo.

Consultations can begin from 3 July 2017.

Boards must consider whether the community finds the policy generally acceptable, before deciding to introduce cohort entry.

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) will be providing assistance and advice to schools on consulting with their local communities,” says NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr.

“NZSTA will be producing additional resources to guide schools through this process. The experienced team in our Advisory and Support Centre are available to assist School Boards. Regular updates and guidance on cohort entry, and other aspects of the updated Education Act will also be outlined in STAnews.”

Cohort entry is about helping children settle better in school. There is evidence that starting school alongside other children helps build relationships and supports a smoother entry to school life.

It can also mean less disruption for new entrant teachers who are able to prepare for groups of children arriving on a specific date rather than on an individual and ad hoc basis throughout the year.

Children will be able to start at a school with cohort entry at the beginning of the term closest to their fifth birthday, or the beginning of a later term (but the child must be enrolled to start school by their sixth birthday).

This means that some children, depending on when in the term their birthday falls, will be able to start school up to eight weeks before they turn five, while other children will have to wait up to eight weeks  after their fifth birthday before they can start school.

Parents will continue to have the option of not starting their child in school until their sixth birthday, regardless of whether or not the school they enrol in has a cohort entry policy.

If a school does not have a cohort entry policy, parents can continue to enrol their child on a date of their choosing, for example on their fifth birthday (subject to the schools age of acceptance, zoning requirements and the legal requirement that they must be enrolled to start school by their sixth birthday).

The earliest students will enter a school with a cohort entry policy will be Term 1, 2018. Schools need to give at least one term’s notice of the change before the policy takes effect. This is so that parents, schools and early learning services affected have time to plan for the change.

The precise cut-off dates for each term will be published in the Education Gazette and on this website before 1 August 2017.


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