I FOUND your leader comment ("School age switch worth examining", The Herald, November 12) a welcome stimulus to the debate as it attempts to rally a positive spin on the issue.

It concludes with the caveat: "Whether Scottish schoolchildren begin school at six, however, should be a decision based, not on financial considerations, but on their best interests as learners". I feel however that perhaps inevitably, it is the context in which the issue of the age children start schools which would forever be the backdrop to school staffroom dialogue. Any evidential educational advantage would be dismissed as a distortion, imposed to meet the real issue of cutting costs.

The detailed repercussions would be considerable, not least on the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which was designed for 3-18 year-olds. To load more responsibility on to pre-school provision for the first three years instead of the first two would place considerable staff development and resource needs on what is currently the pre-five sector and which would become the pre-six sector. The alternative would be to revise and modify the expectations of the CfE to compensate for the later starting age in primary schooling.

There exists the clear potential for the move to widen the attainment gap in our diverse society. Some parents in more affluent areas would make good use of the increased time to enrich competence in the three Rs. Some other parents would undoubtedly view it as adding to their perceived burden of parenthood.

Using school starting age data from other countries is not particularly helpful, as it has to be carefully considered within their whole education system and indeed different culture. Some countries, such as China, have a later starting age but have in law a stipulated minimum number of years of compulsory school education.

We also have to consider that Scotland maintains denominational schools as well as non-denomin­ational and I expect a more fruitful analysis of costing education would reveal the benefits of closer co-operation in terms of providing buildings and staff.

However, I also expect that the challenging opportunity this presents has been kept off the agenda.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive,