On the 26th January I went to a talk about a campaign called Upstart. I wasn’t very sure what the talk was going to be about but I thought that I would be able to see what is happening in Scotland with regards to education. I found the talk interesting and it brought up ideas which had never crossed my mind. It challenged ideas that I didn’t think needed challenging, like the age we start school.

Upstart’s aim is to introduce a play based kindergarten stage until the age of 7.  Sue Palmer explained to us that the view of society nowadays is to have children reading and writing by a certain age. However she explains that it isn’t a race and therefore is creating more pressure on children. So she explains that play is the element needed.

Scotland’s starting age for school is 4/5 and this is one of the earliest starting ages in the world. What they have found is that in the education ranking of western nations, the countries which started their children at 7 are more likely to gain better grades. This research and others carried out shows there is little to gain from an early start.

One of the audience members suggested that the starting them earlier makes them ‘burn’ out in their teens. This therefore makes them not want to go to school and they aren’t bothered about attaining. I think this is what I saw when I was at school as no one wanted to be there anymore.

Suzanne Zeedyk said that free play influences these qualities:

  • sensory development
  • creativity
  • emotional experiences
  • thinking ability
  • friendships
  • motoric development
  • sense of self
  • curiosity

She explained that these are what we want children to become with curriculum for excellence. Her thoughts suggested this could be done through play rather than needing to read or write really young.

One of the main points that stood out from me however from Suzanne’s talk was that Patrick Geddes designed kindergartens for children to be out in the garden. A quote from him we were told was ‘By creating we think, by living we learn.’

Although this talk was very thought through and had many reasons for starting at 7, I don’t think I could make a decision just based on that talk, as I would need to consider all possibilities. However I could see the benefits and it definitely gave me a different look out to how children should be taught at certain ages and what would be most beneficial to them. I hope to look into this at a later date so I can see the pros and cons for starting children’s education later.

On this link here is a radio show and at 52 minutes, Sue Palmer talks about the campaign.





1 thought on “Upstart?

  1. Erin Hamilton

    Hi Grace! I am a third-year student studying Primary Education at UWS and have been encouraged as part of one our modules to explore some of the blogs on glow and comment with some of our thoughts. Trying to provide children with best possible opportunity to succeed is arguably one of the most important roles of being a primary teacher, due to this I feel that we are constantly trying to better ourselves. It is interesting, though, that despite changes in the curriculum there are still numerous countries who have way better levels of attainment in comparison to Scotland and like you said, most of these places start their schooling when children are seven. From my experience in both nurseries and primary schools you can immediately tell there’s a difference in the way that children learn. The ‘play’ emphasis almost disappears as you progress through primary school and things become a lot more serious for the children which I suppose could have both positive and negative effects. I agree with yourself, though, that I feel I need to look into the issue more to form a proper opinion on the issue and plan to do so after reading your post!

    Erin 🙂 #uwsba13two


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