Cohort entry options for children aged five and over

Cohort entry was introduced as an option for schools in July 2017. Schools are able to consult with their communities on whether to adopt cohort (group) entry, or keep continuous entry. From term one 2018, new entrants were able to start school in groups at the beginning of each term closest to their fifth birthday. This means that some children are starting school at aged four.

The Government has now changed this policy so that new entrants can start school in groups, only after the children have turned five.

From 1 January 2020, four-year-olds will no longer be able to start school as part of a school’s cohort entry policy, and there will also be two cohort entry points per term (one at the beginning of each term, and one at the mid-point of each term).

The Minister will set the mid-term dates for 2020 by 1 July 2019. We will notify all schools about these dates through the Gazette and through our School Bulletin | He Pitopito Kōrero.

To ensure information of public interest is available, the document considered by Cabinet to take its decisions on cohort entry has been proactively released:

If you have difficulty accessing this document, please email

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