Flexible School Starting Age
Inflexible and unjustified – the description of Northern Ireland’s legislation on the school starting age by a High Court Judge. He said ‘the system doesn’t allow the authorities to act in the best interests of every child.
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We hope the ruling will put pressure on the Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen to introduce reform before the next Assembly election scheduled for May 2022.
The case was taken by a family whose son, with a July birthday was due to start school this September, however if the child had been born one day later, he would not have been required to start school until September 2022. The judge ruled that the system was ‘inflexible & unjustified’ however he could not rule on whether it was in the best interests of the boy concerned to start school a year earlier as it would seem an educational psychologist’s report was inconclusive.
Chair of School Start Flexibility Northern Ireland Steering Group Liz Fawcett says ‘As a non-lawyer, I would suggest this could leave the door open for individual families to take a court case if they believe they could convince a court that it is not in their child’s best interests to start school on the date prescribed by the legislation. However, anyone considering doing so should seek legal advice – I may be wrong. You can get free legal advice from the Children’s Law Centre.
The solicitors who acted for the plaintiff in this case were Phoenix Law Human Rights Lawyers
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