No one could argue that the Cambridge Primary Review, the biggest report on primary schools for over 40 years, isn’t a weighty-looking document. Six years to complete, 600 pages long, one of its main arguments is that British children are starting school far too early, around the four-year mark.
Terrible, cries the report. In the manner of most European countries, children should be starting school at around six years old, in Finland’s case, seven. Thereby enabling Britain to catch up in terms of child literacy, numeracy, and well-being. All of which sounds extremely exciting for British education. What a shame they forgot to factor in British parents.
Even today, when there is a report like this, we seem automatically to revert to a template of idealised British family life, circa 1955 (Mummy in her pinny, happily baking jam tarts; Daddy arriving home with his brolly) that has no bearing on modern reality.
Exchange the 1950s fantasy for parents who both have to work, and have other children to sort out. Parents, who already have to pick up, clean up, organise, and juggle, to the point where they feel as though they are trapped within a slow-motion nervous breakdown. And this is the middle class, relatively do-able, version. Into this engorged ready-to-blow scenario they want to introduce the concept of up to two to three years less primary schooling? Are they insane?