In a January 2011 speech, Michael Gove cited Alberta as being among the “world leaders” in education in, and in June 2011 and September 2010 speeches, he espoused, “In Canada, and specifically in Alberta, a diverse range of autonomous schools offer professionals freedom and parents choice. As a result, Alberta now has the best performing state schools of any English-speaking region.”
Well I thought it would be useful to highlight here how Alberta’s FLEXIBLE school admissions system works, and how clear and simple it is for parents to understand which year group their summer born (equivalent) children can enter and when.
Below is how the Calgary Board of Education sets out its Age Requirements for first admission to school. Parents simply enter their child’s date of birth, and for children born between September 1st and December 31st the system offers the choice of two different academic years.
|Child’s date of birth
(Enter Month, Day, Year, and click ‘Go’)
|Your child may begin kindergarten in|
|Your child may begin Grade 1 in|
|Your child must begin Grade 1 by|
The website clearly emphasises that Kindergarten (or Reception) at age 4 is a choice for parents, and furthermore, while Grade 1 is accessible to children aged 5 and a half years, parents can also choose to wait until their child is 6 years old before they enter first grade:
“A child who turns four years old on or before March 1 may attend Kindergarten in the fall of that same calendar year. Kindergarten is an optional program. Parents decide whether to register their children in Kindergarten.
- A child who turns five on or before March 1 is eligible to begin Grade 1 in that same calendar year.
- A child who turns six by September 1 must start school.
You can use the following calculator to determine when your child can start school:”
Given Gove’s clear admiration for this country’s (and more importantly this province’s) education system, surely it’s worth looking into the benefits of a more flexible start to formal education, and stepping in to resolve the angst and opposition parents are experiencing from admission authorities?
The Code needs to change – so that our system can change – for the better.
Also see – January 2011 media articles following Gove’s speech
Most notably in The Guardian on Jan 4, 2011, Rhonda Evans asked, Is the Canadian model right for UK schools? “Michael Gove is holding up Alberta in Canada as a role-model for UK education. But is the schools secretary being a little too selective?”
Jan 8, 2011 U.K. looks for lessons from Alberta’s education system (Edmonton Journal)
Jan 9 2011 Brits see Alberta schools as exceptional example (as above)