Together or apart? : what Principals, members of the board, and new entrant teachers are saying about cohort entry : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Education at Massey University, New Zealand

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Massey University
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I’ve turned five. I’m starting school! Starting school on the day of your fifth birthday has been a long standing tradition in New Zealand. Grandparents and parents will recall their entry into primary school which followed an ad-hoc approach. It was not until 2017 that the Ministry of Education changed their policies to allow for a cohort entry enrolment option for schools. Research suggests there are positive outcomes of cohort entry for children and the school community. While many OECD countries only operate a cohort entry model when beginning school, the number of schools that follow suit is limited in New Zealand. This study aims to give voice to key stakeholders in the transition to school process to articulate their beliefs regarding cohort entry. This study pays particular attention to principals, members of the board and new entrant teachers. A survey was used to gather data from participants and analysed within a case study methodology. The findings suggest that participants acknowledge that cohort entry is an effective way for students to enter school. Participants believe that under a cohort entry approach children have a greater support system, the ability to form relationships with others more quickly, creating a sense of belonging in their classroom, as well as fostering continuity of learning from one education setting to another. While identifying a number of benefits, participants also acknowledge some challenges with a cohort entry approach, including; parents wanting children to start on their birthday, large numbers of children transitioning at once, and children with a range of needs all starting on the same day.