Early entry to school in Australia: Rhetoric, research and reality

Diezmann, Carmel M., Watters, James J., & Fox, Kathryn (2001) Early entry to school in Australia: Rhetoric, research and reality. Australasian Journal of Gifted Education, 10(2), pp. 5-18.


School readiness and age of entry to formal schooling have long been topics of controversy within Australia and worldwide. Thus, when early entry to school is proposed as one of the ways of catering for young gifted children, the issues of readiness for school and the child’s age are central to arguments both for and against early entry to school. For example, while a proponent of early entry may argue that a gifted child should be placed with the most suitable peer group irrespective of the child’s age, a critic of early entry may argue that a peer group is determined by the child’s age. Early entry is a particularly complex issue in Australia. The option of early entry is determined at the state level and the requirements vary from establishing a child’s high standard of performance relative to their age peers to establishing that to deny the child early entry will create a situation of disadvantage. While early entry is a topic of interest to parents, children, teachers, principals, counsellors, educators, policy makers and professional developers, it can be difficult to make informed decisions that are in the best long-term interests of a gifted child. This difficulty occurs because the information on the advantages and disadvantages is a confusing mixture of fact and fiction about equity and excellence in education. Additionally, school and associated personnel may sometimes be unaware of their legal obligations in relation to information about or applications for early entry. Thus, there can be a discrepancy between the legal and common practices within a school system.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the rhetoric, research and reality of early entry as a gifted education strategy. First, the key issues concerning early entry are outlined and the research evidence in relation to early entry is analysed. Second, an overview of the policies on early entry in Australia and elsewhere is presented. Third, a parent responds to the issues raised by describing her experiences in gaining early entry for her child, and the educational and social consequences of early entry. While research may provide the rationale for seeking early entry, this discussion provides an insight into the reality that parents confront when policy meets practice.

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ID Code: 1693
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 1323-9686
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2001 AAEGT
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 01 Jul 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:44

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