For those born in August, starting school a few days after their fourth birthday is a tough challenge, and can affect achievement throughout their academic life.
There are several interesting factors about the suggestion that there could be greater flexibility about when children start school.
First, there are no plans to change the compulsory starting age of five, even though six or seven is typical in many other countries. Yet the age of five was set when starting early meant that children would be out in the labour market as young as possible. Now the emphasis is on schooling and further education until 18 or older, so the rationale for such an early start disappears.
Second, if flexibility means children starting school in September, January or June, depending on their birthday, there will be a huge effect on the smooth running of the reception year as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage. At the moment, schools get more funding if children join earlier, and parents fear that they will lose over-subscribed primary school places if they do not take them up as soon as possible.
Third, if reception classes are providing the right environment and approach to learning and development under the EYFS, then four-year-olds should be able to cope fine, as their needs will be met. If good early years practice is extended up into Key Stage 1, even better!