Wednesday, October 16
A Perth mother is at loggerheads with the West Australian education authorities over their insistence that her four-year-old son starts school next year, the ABC reports.
Rebecca Trent has vowed to leave WA and move interstate with Darcy, splitting him up from his sister, if authorities continue to refuse her requests for him to start school a year later because he is “not ready” and “won’t cope”.
WA has the youngest compulsory school starting age in the country at four-and-a-half years, with enrolment in pre-primary mandatory for children who turn five by June 30 unless there are “exceptional circumstances”, the report said.
Ms Trent said she was becoming increasingly desperate after a series of knockbacks from local schools as to whether Darcy could repeat kindergarten and start pre-primary in 2021,
Darcy was born on June 23, 2015, a week before the cut-off date of June 30 — meaning he would be one of the youngest in his year throughout his school life if he started pre-primary as the law requires next year.
Ms Trent said knowing Darcy as she did, there was no way he would cope with five days of school a week and she warned of inevitable “meltdowns”.
“He’s a little boy. He’s so full on. He’s awake or he’s asleep,” she said.
“He’s not ready for that structure, he just wants to go and do his own thing.
“I’m worried he’s going to get stressed. He struggles to communicate and ends up in tears and screaming.
“He just needs that extra time to be a little boy instead of being in that classroom environment of ‘you have to sit down, you have to do this, you have to do that’.
“He’s going to be one step behind his peers at every stage.”
Ms Trent said she had approached eight schools in recent months, six of them public and two private, about holding Darcy back a year.
She said six gave her a flat out “no” while two — one public and one private — told her she would need to provide paediatric and child psychology reports supporting her request.
Ms Trent said she was shocked to discover wait lists of up to four months to see a paediatrician and was considering moving interstate, where parents can delay their children’s schooling without any questions.
“If I take him to Victoria or Queensland, his sister has to stay in Western Australia, so I am then forced to split up my kids,” she said.
“The best thing for my eldest is for her to stay in the school she’s currently in. The best thing for my youngest is to move interstate … again, for the sake of days.
“It’s a very drastic step and it’s not the first option, it’s the last option.”
Darcy’s father Shane, who is now separated from his wife, said he supported her decision to move interstate with their son because they were running out of options.
“Do the Education Department really know our children better than we do?” he said.
“Just give us a little bit of flexibility, that’s all we’re asking for. It’s a week. A week here or there is not going to do the child harm and in the case of our son, it’ll do him the world of good.”
School starting age state-by-state:
- WA — It is compulsory for students to attend the first year of schooling (pre-primary). Children must be enrolled if they are five or turning five by June 30 of that year. (Age range of children starting school: four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half)
- NSW — Up to parents to decide when children start school (kindergarten) but all children must be in compulsory schooling by their sixth birthday. (Age range: four-and-a-half to six)
- Victoria — Up to parents to decide when children start school (prep) but children must be in school the year they turn six. (Age range:four years and nine months to six)
- Queensland — Parents can delay entry for school (prep) but children must be enrolled by the compulsory school start age of six-and-a-half. (Age range: four-and-a-half to six-and-a-half)
- SA — Children must be at school by their sixth birthday. (Age range: four years and eight months to six)
- Tasmania — It is compulsory for students to attend school (prep) if they have turned five by January 1 of the school year. (Age range: five to six)
Hollywood star Jennifer Aniston has been an instant hit on Instagram, posting just one picture when she joined this week, attracting more than 3 million followers in eight hours.
The picture in question was a selfie, which appears to have been taken by Aniston herself, with five of her friends gathered around her.
The reason it caused such an internet stir was the identity of the five friends — it was her fellow Friends cast members Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry.
“And now we’re Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM,” wrote Aniston as the photo caption, drawing attention to the fact the cast of the popular sitcom, which originally ran from 1994 to 2004, had reunited for the photo, and were also friends in real life.
Celebrities and regular Instagram users went wild about the post.
“I’m glad they’re still there for you,” wrote talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, riffing on the lyrics of the show’s theme song.
“What a smart first pic and caption,” wrote Marianna Hewitt, an Insta-famous entrepreneur.
Reese Witherspoon, who in unrelated news is set to appear alongside Aniston in a new series called The Morning Show — Aniston’s first real foray into television since Friends ended 15 years ago — was one of the first to comment, enthusing: “YASSSS!!! Welcome to Insta Jen!!!”
“My life is complete,” said one poster, while another gushed, “EPIC!!!! Love this so much!!!”
One person expressed utter disbelief, either at the fact Aniston had joined the platform or that she had decided to assemble her fellow actors and photograph them together. “WHAAAAAAA!!!?!??” he wrote.
Six grown-ups including five siblings and their sick father have been discovered locked away in a secret space at an isolated farm, officials in the Netherlands say, according to news reports.
The family was discovered after one of the male siblings escaped to a local pub, where he drank five beers.
The bartender was alarmed over the man’s dishevelled and confused appearance and called the police.
Police tracked down a remote, boarded-up farmhouse and found a secret space hidden behind a large cupboard.
The five siblings, estimated at 18 to 25 years of age, and a man they identified as their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe.
“We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said in a statement, adding that the people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.
Officials did not confirm local TV reports that the family may have held “end of days” apocalyptic beliefs.
Earlier, local mayor Roger de Groot said a 58-year-old man, not the father of the children, had been arrested. His role was unclear.
Police confirmed they had arrested a man who was renting the farm but would not comment on his identity.
The children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the farm, the mayor said.
The siblings had apparently lived in makeshift rooms and survived partly on vegetables and animals from a secluded garden on the property, local TV RTV Drenthe reported.
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