Letter: Schools under fire

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The news "Infants to be in streamed classes" (4 September) greeted me on my return from a visit to Germany, and I cannot help wondering why British treatment of young children is so utterly different from the German one.

No German child starts primary school before the age of six, and many begin when they are seven. Yet the educational standards of German school- leavers are the envy of many.

I have a bright and confident six-year-old nephew in Tubingen whose parents decided that he is socially not quite ready yet for formal schooling. They believe that starting too early does irreparable damage in the long term. He will therefore continue for another year in the kindergarten where he happily spends most of his time outdoors, learning about nature, the seasons, self-reliance and how to get along with his mates. His activities will be determined by the weather instead of a timetable.

What compelling evidence has convinced our educational establishment that subjecting four-year-olds to formal education, and now also assessment, is a good thing?

MASHA BELL

Wareham, Dorset

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