Tasmanian children may soon start school at 3.5 years old

AS TASMANIA gears up to change the school starting age to just three and a half years old, an online campaign is calling for the change to be scrapped before it ever begins.

The changes are due to be put in place in 2020 and will face Tasmania's parliament for debate later this year.

More than 4000 people have liked a Facebook page condemning the proposal.

The Facebook page, named Tasmanians Say NO To A Lower School Starting Age, was started by a union representative for childcare workers, the ABC reported.

Tasmania's Minister For Education Jeremy Rockliff wrote in newspaper The Mercury in May that the lower starting age was designed to combat disadvantage.

"All Tasmanian children should have equal access to nurturing, supportive, age-appropriate education to give them the best start in life," he wrote.

"That is why the Hodgman Liberal Government plans to lower the school starting age in Tasmania - to combat our high levels of disadvantage, and our low level of educational attainment."

Education statistics recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012 and published in 2015 showed young Tasmanian students were at risk of falling behind their peers.

"One in five children in their first year of schooling in Tasmania in 2012 were developmentally vulnerable," the ABS report said.

"However, a larger proportion of children from lower socioeconomic households were developmentally vulnerable (40%)."

The government hopes to address these differences by getting children into school at a younger age.

But its opponents say going to school before their fourth birthday will only damage children's development.

Have your say: Should children start school at three-and-a-half-years-old? Tell us your opinion in the comments. 

Topics:  editors picks education tasmania

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