Don't be misled by this headline

I got a nasty and, as it turns out, unnecessary shock this morning when I read the headline Start school at six, report says.

By some cruel trick of fate, my internet connection dropped out just as I attempted to click through the headline, leaving me in agonised and agitated suspense for a full half-hour.

In my coffee-fuelled paranoia, I had immediately assumed the headline meant that there were plans afoot to free up parents' working time and increase our nation's productivity by ensuring all children were at school by 6am.

I could not help but imagine my yawning children sitting down to period 3 mathematics listening to the sound of the dawn chorus. My imagination also threatened me with the image of my 12-year-old daughter chasing her mobile alarm clock into my bedroom at three in the morning in order to give herself ample time with her trumpet-shaped hairdryer.

But what I feared above all was the thought it might mean it became de rigueur for me to show my face in the office by 7am at the latest. Against a background of an election run-up in which all parties are competing to see who can sell us the most attractive and juicy tax rises and budget cuts, it is easy to see how I have been primed for such paranoia.

I don't like to think of myself as an alarmist but I must be honest and say that I immediately phoned my wife to complain, "Can you believe it? This is beginning of the end. We'll never sleep, our children won't know us and we'll be working 14 hours a day until we reach the minimum retirement age of 82."

Shortly afterwards my internet connection returned, both reassuring me and making we feel silly in a single fell click as I learned that the story actually concerned the rather less alarming prospect of delaying formal learning until children reach six.

The report also accused the current education system of having "Stalinist overtones" and called for the scrapping of Sats. I'm afraid that my sense of relief is so strong I'll settle for anything that doesn't involve waking at 4am.

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