Delay formal education until age seven, says Rowan Williams

According to the Telegraph, former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is backing a campaign effectively to delay the start of formal education until the age of seven…

Lord Williams of Oystermouth, master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, is among 350 leading figures supporting a drive to overhaul early education in England significantly amid fears that children are expected to do “too much, too soon”.

The group, which includes academics, authors and charity leaders, is on Wednesday due to present a petition containing 7,500 names to Downing Street. It calls for major changes to nurseries and schooling and plans to hold a parliamentary lobby to gain support from MPs.

The move follows the publication of a letter in The Daily Telegraph last month warning of the dangers of pushing children too hard in the early years.

It claimed that compulsory schooling should be delayed until the age of seven – up from five at the moment – because early education is too focused on the three-Rs, causing “profound damage” to children. The “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign – launched by the Save Childhood Movement – had previously been backed by 130 figures such as Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the former children’s commissioner for England; Lord Layard, director of the Well-being Programme at the London School of Economics; Dr David Whitebread, senior lecturer in psychology of education at Cambridge University, and Catherine Prisk, director of Play England.

But its backers claim hundreds more experts, including Dr Williams, are actively supporting the drive, backed with the petition.

It is pushing for a series of reforms, including a new “developmentally appropriate”, play-based early years framework for nurseries and schools, covering children between the age of three and seven. The warnings have already been rejected by the Government.

Last month, a Department for Education source branded the group “misguided”, suggesting they advocated dumbing down.

“These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools,” the source said…

More at:  Delay starting school until age seven, says Rowan Williams

It is still not absolutely clear – as was also the case when the campaign was publicised last month – whether the goal is just to postpone formal education in the classroom until 7 or whether it would actually delay compulsory schooling until that age too. Would you like to see formal education delayed? Ig so, in what way(s). Please let us know why or why not in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Pre-school and Primary.


  1. SuperChowChow

    lauzjp SchoolsImprove aged 4yrs 1mnth. They’re stressed over him not writing, sch. recognise bad behaviour, not good.

  2. FionaTipper

    SchoolsImprove I think this approach works in cultures where childr are at home with parent, not sure about an extra 2 years in a nursery?

  3. Teacher2

    Delay formal education – children at 7 are more emotionally developed for the ‘tough’ system of Education and ‘big’ school. They are out of ‘nappy years’ and ready to actually learn. See how many countries do it – learn from them. Why do you want the UK to always be the ‘last’ to join in with everything.

  4. Lit_Chic_2013

    Well, it works for all those scandinavian countries that out-perform us over and over again. Given we’ve been starting education at younger and younger ages but our literacy/numeracy scores are at an all time low, maybe we should consider alternatives!

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