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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1185..


Education, Community Services and Recreation-Standing Committee

Report No 6-government response

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (3.59): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Education, Community Services and Recreation-Standing Committee-Report No 6-The draft three year strategic plan for preschools in the ACT (presented 28 November 2000)-Government response.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR STEFANIAK: I seek leave to have my speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows:

Mr Speaker, in October 1999 I released the Draft three year strategic plan for preschools in the ACT for public consultation. The draft plan built on the strengths of the ACT Government preschool system while taking into account the changes that are occurring for children and families in the ACT community.

At the same time 1 referred the draft strategic plan to the Standing Committee on Education, Community Services and Recreation for inquiry and report. The Committee subsequently tabled its report on 29 November 2000.

I am pleased that the Committee has concluded that the ACT Government preschool system is well supported with approximately 90% of eligible children attending each year. The Committee has also highlighted the growing body of research evidence of the importance of early childhood experiences for children's later development.

At this time, ACT Government preschools do not have statement of purpose. The Auditor-General raised this in his 1998 Report on the Management on Preschool Education. In recent years, the changing demographics of the ACT have threatened the viability of some preschools. The draft strategic plan offers a direction for ensuring that quality outcomes for preschoolers are maintained. It also described some alternative models to address the demographic issues.

The Standing Committee has now reported on the draft strategic plan for preschools. The Committee has made several recommendations. The Government supports six of these fully. The intent of a further two is supported. There is no recommendation that is unsupported.

During the life of the plan the Government will develop for trialing, the two models of a consolidated Department of Education and Community Services preschool and a preschool into a primary school, in consultation with the community. It will also develop a position paper on early childhood schools.


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