We have extensively discussed and will probably continue to discuss the new regulations on education, in effect since summer 2019. We try to help those applying for an individual study schedule (that is to replace private studentship) and those who do not want their little ones to be mandatorily enrolled at preschool at the age of 4.
The situation is most pressing for those parents who do not want their children, turning 6 next year, to start 1st grade in September. They may request exemption from the regulation only in an extremely narrow time-frame, between 1 and 15 January, within the framework of a lengthy and highly uncertain process. Their only hope is if the expert committee decides that their child is not (going to be) mature enough for school, in which case they do not even have to submit the exemption request. We have covered this subject in more detail here. But some children might find themselves in the grey zone between the middle year of preschool and the 1st grade of primary school; today’s post is about them.
(Still) no regulation
The law is quite clear: whoever reaches 6 years of age by the deadline, must go to school, the only loophole being parents possibly requesting that their child remain in preschool for one more year.
Surreal as it may sound, for all we know now, even parents whose children do not yet attend the final year of preschool will be compelled to submit the exemption request, since the regulation establishes the school entry date based only on the child’s age. What the Educational Authority will then do with these requests is unknown at this stage.
The reason for all this uncertainty is that the decree containing the details of the new law, applicable beginning in January 2020, is still not available in the middle of November. Everything we know about the decree is based on the informal communication of the Secretary of State responsible for education.
Verdict by experts?
Two weeks ago the Secretary of State stated that the Educational Authority would forward all well-founded requests to an expert committee. It seems, thus, that it is not the Educational Authority making the real decisions, as their decision will be based on the verdict of the committee.
If this is so, parents whose children are attending the middle year of preschool don’t have much to worry about, as their children are obviously not yet mature enough for school. But is it possible that they would be sent to school anyway?
The only point of mandatory preschool attendance is jeopardized
Many disapprove of the fact that children aged 5 (and from next year on, 4) are required to start preschool; we are among the many. The Supreme Court has also studied the matter and concluded that the final year of preschool plays an important role in preparing children for school and thus, attendance should be mandatory. But children attending the 2nd year of preschool right now and turning 6 next year are being compelled by the new decree to skip the very year that is crucial in their preparation for school.
Pushing these children to 1st grade would be admitting that the 3rd year of preschool education is not so important after all and that participation is not necessary in order to start 1st grade in primary school. This would undermine the entire system of argumentation in favour of mandatory preschool attendance.
And what if someone does not submit the request?
The only way for 6-year-olds not to be sent to 1st grade automatically is the exemption request submitted by their parents. No one knows, however, what will happen if a parent in such a situation does not submit the request. As far as we know now, these children must start school in September 2020.
It would be of utmost importance to publish the decree containing the details of the exemption. All the more so since it is ready by now, we are told.
As long as the details are unknown, we suggest that if parents want to make sure their child will stay in preschool for one more year, they should take them to school maturity examinations now.
Send us your questions and feedback
A lot of you have contacted us recently, and we thank you for that. We have received feedback from a number of experts and parents telling us how they adapt to the new regulations. These are really important for us as they help us assess local practices and enable us to advise those seeking assistance from us.
And with many specific requests for help, we are trying to give everyone useful answers. Contact our legal assistance service by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org! Don’t let your children be nationalized, act now!