Is obligatory school from age of three a good idea?

Children will be obliged to start school from the age of three from this September.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer says nursery school – la maternelle – is “potentially the most powerful tool for equality and social progress”.

School has been obligatory since 1882, first from six to 13, then to 14 in 1936, and 16 in 1959. Children will now be obliged to start earlier than any European country, with the exception of Hungary.

However, 97.6% of children in mainland France already start nursery at three, official statistics show.

The new age is therefore partly symbolic. It is estimated to affect 26,000 children who will start earlier than they would have otherwise.

The Elysée says it also wants maternelle to be recognised as “real school”, with a focus on language and personal fulfilment, not just a sort of creche or a preparation for elementary school.

We spoke to two education experts with differing views on the ...

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