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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4173..

MR SPEAKER: Order! Resume your seat, Mr Pratt.

Education—early childhood

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, yesterday you announced a new focus on early childhood education as part of the government's education reform package. Can you please inform the Assembly of the detail of this new focus?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for the question. As part of the government's education reform package announced yesterday we did announce a new focus on early childhood education. Across the world there is an increasing recognition that the development of a child in the early stages of their life can set the foundation for learning, behaviour and health right throughout a child's school years as well as their adult life and that investing in early intervention programs and high-quality education programs in these years has lasting effects on a child's social, emotional and intellectual development.

The Stanhope government believe that our children are worth investing in and we want to give them the best possible start in life. I announced yesterday that from 2008 all preschools will be amalgamated with a primary school in order to streamline pathways for children, improve the continuity of learning and ensure that children can access an integrated education curriculum. I was very pleased to see this morning that the Canberra Preschool Society has welcomed this change and recognised the great benefits that can come from streamlining education pathways into primary schools. Society president Carolyn Harkness said on ABC radio this morning that students need to be able to have the continuity of education and that the Canberra Preschool Society is quite in favour of this concept of bringing preschool into primary. She did say that there are some administrative issues that need to be worked through, and that is why we are not seeking to implement the change until 2008. We look forward to continuing to work with the Canberra Preschool Society on developing this new model.

Parents from the Weston preschool also welcomed their new link with Arawang primary school, saying, again on ABC radio, that they were looking forward to more involvement with the school, including undertaking joint excursions. It is great to see such a positive reaction to this announcement. It is a great pity that those opposite are not able to join with the preschool society in welcoming this.

We have also announced the extension of an exciting education model for Canberra. It is an education model that is a convergence of modern education theory and demand from the community. The new model is around designated early childhood education schools which cater for children from preschool through to year 2. The government believe strongly that this model of education provides excellent early education intervention for our younger students and certainly we have responded to demands that it be available across more areas of the territory. From 2009 we will see four new P to 2 schools across Canberra. In southern Canberra schools will be located at Narrabundah, Lyons and Isabella Plains, and northern Canberra will be served by

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