Poll shows opposition to lower school starting age

Unions and the opposition have upped their campaign against changing the school starting age in Tasmania.

A United Voice-commissioned EMRS poll, released on Saturday, found three-quarters of Tasmanians opposed lowering the voluntary school starting age to 3.5.

The poll of 1000 Tasmanian adults, which was conducted between August 3 and 7, found 76 per cent were opposed to the change.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government was “listening closely” to stakeholders, “as well as considering independent research undertaken by KPMG”, in relation to the school starting age.

“The government's motivation is to improve education outcomes in Tasmania,” he said.

​”As foreshadowed, the secretary's report into the implementation of the earlier voluntary starting age will be tabled next week.”

However, opposition education spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne said the consultation excluded some family daycare centres and left others “feeling despondent”.

“One centre was told it should consider becoming a café if the Liberals’ changes go through,” she said.

One centre was told it should consider becoming a café if the Liberals’ changes go through.

Opposition education spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne

“That’s a slap in the face to early education providers and their employees who add an enormous amount to the community.”

Glen Dhu Children’s Services business manager Amanda Reid said children were “already getting lost in the system”.

“My message to Jeremy Rockliff is, what are you thinking? Where is this coming from? Every bit of information you have shows that none of this works,” she said. “Everything is against this. There’s no documentation that supports this.”

Launceston family daycare educator Paula Connell said she hoped Mr Rockliff would reconsider changing the voluntary school starting age.

“I’d like to think he’ll stop, take a step back, reassess, and do the right thing for Tasmanian three-year-olds,” she said.

“They need to be in play-based learning and they’re just going to be lost in the system. They’re babies. You can’t put them into a school setting.”