In accordance with the Education Welfare Act, 2000 the compulsory school starting age in a National School is 6 years of age and the Rules for National Schools provide that a child must be at least 4 years of age before he/she may be enrolled in a National School. If children are not in school by 6 years of age the Education Welfare Service must be satisfied that the child is receiving a minimum standard of education in a place other than a recognised school.
The primary school curriculum is designed as an eight year course, including a two year infant cycle followed by six years in standards from first to sixth, with children progressing to the next grade at the end of each school year.
It has been a long standing tradition in Ireland to allow parents, the primary educators of children, to choose when is best for their child to enter formal education within the parameters outlined above. My Department has recognised and respected the right of parents to make that choice and the importance of leaving this choice with parents.
My Department is aware of research into school readiness which was commissioned by my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, information on which can be found here:
As the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) is the dedicated Statutory State Agency responsible for improving well-being and outcomes for children, any recommendations and proposals to amend the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 should be addressed directly with the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of that body.