News release

New Age of Entry for Primary in September

The Department of Education is reminding parents that the age of entry for Primary is changing.

Children turning five on or before Dec. 31, will be eligible to attend Primary in September. The change, from Oct. 1, brings Nova Scotia's eligibility date in line with the majority of provinces.

The change will mean about 2,100 additional students becoming eligible to start school next year.

"One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a quality education," said Education Minister Karen Casey. "By moving our school entry cut-off date to the end of December, we will be getting more children started on the right path at an earlier age."

An internal review is examining staffing, school facility, and transportation requirements to accommodate the increased number of Primary students. Department staff are also looking at ways to adapt the Primary curriculum to meet the needs of the younger children who will still be four years old when they start school.

"Resources will be in place next September to provide for the wider range of learning abilities that we expect to see among students," said Ms. Casey.

Staff will be using instructional techniques and programming from the province's Pre-Primary Program, a pilot program for four-year-olds that has successfully prepared pre-schoolers for Primary.

Current pre-primary pilots will continue until the end of this school year. Work has begun to identify locations where the province's early childhood curriculum could be delivered in school facilities by not-for-profit groups in the future.

Parents of children turning five on or before Dec. 31 will be under no obligation to enroll their son or daughter in Primary next year. Parents can choose to wait if they believe their child is not ready to begin formal education.

"This will be an exciting new opportunity for many children, but some parents may feel that their child is not quite ready and will choose to wait an additional year before starting school," said Ms. Casey. "Parents are the best judges of whether their child is ready, developmentally and socially, for school. What we are doing is providing choice and opportunity for families who have requested early eligibility."

Every year some parents appeal to the Department of Education to waive Nova Scotia's starting age regulation so their children will have the same opportunity to start school as other students across Canada.

Ms. Casey said the country's increasingly mobile labour force and the province's high concentration of military families who are subject to frequent relocation, played a role in Nova Scotia's decision to standardize its age of entry date.

Primary registration for the 2008-09 school year will begin soon in most school boards. In the meantime, parents are encouraged to take time to consider whether their child is ready for school.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotia is changing the school entry deadline to Dec. 31 from Oct. 1, bringing Nova Scotia eligibility date in line with the majority of provinces.

Children turning five on or before Dec. 31, will be eligible to attend Primary beginning in September. The change in date will result in about 2,100 additional students being eligible to start school next year.

An internal review is examining staffing, school facility, and transportation requirements to accommodate the increase in Primary students.

Department staff are also looking at ways to adapt the Primary curriculum to meet the needs of the younger children who will still be four years old when they start school.

Parents of children turning five on or before Dec. 31 are under no obligation to enroll their son or daughter in Primary next year.

Education Minister Karen Casey says parents are the best judges of whether their child is ready developmentally and socially for school.

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Media Contact:

Peter McLaughlin
Department of Education 902-424-8307 E-mail: