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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 November 2007) . . Page.. 3551 ..


services, providing a focus and a one-stop shop for services for children from zero to eight. Based on the success of and the full enrolment—100 per cent enrolment—and waiting list for the early childhood school currently operating in O’Connor, the future projected enrolments for these new early childhood schools, together with a $10 million investment in the establishment of these schools, we are very confident in providing a new education model based on investment in the early years of school.

All of the national and international research shows that investment in those early years can lead to significant educational, social and economic improvements for students and families. Against that backdrop, we are determined to expand our provision of early childhood schools in the ACT. It is interesting to note that there are other schools in the ACT system in the non-government area that are moving into early childhood education provision. There are infant schools operating with preschool to year 2 arrangements in both the government and the non-government system and they are operating very effectively.

Through the investment of $10 million in the upgrade of these new facilities, we look forward to providing world-class early childhood education. Yes, it is a new model. Yes, it is an innovation in education. But I believe that it is fundamentally important to the long-term future of our education system to offer diversity and to offer to families with young children a one-stop shop for services: to co-locate service provision, childcare centres and a range of other family services with these zero to eight schools.

It is a new education offering in the ACT. It is an expanded education offering building on the work that has already been done in the early childhood sector and so successfully at the O’Connor Cooperative School. We look forward to building on the enrolments in these schools. It is important that we are innovative, that we respond.

With the election of a Rudd Labor government this Saturday, we will see the injection of hundreds of millions of dollars into early childhood education and a guarantee of 15 hours for preschool students. This is building on the 12 hours already offered in the ACT system, with additional commonwealth support and additional investment in early childhood education. It is crucial to the future of our city. We look forward to working with the incoming Rudd Labor government to deliver outstanding results for early childhood education in the ACT.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Will Mr Barr broaden his reliance on international experience and on one local school, and monitor and consider the results of this policy on the ground in the ACT and provide the community with the schools that they think are best for their children?

MR BARR: I thank Dr Foskey for her interest. It is concerning that the Greens are already adopting a negative approach to this new and innovative offering for early childhood education. We look forward to building on this in the years ahead. As I say, a partnership with a federal Labor government in delivering additional resources for early childhood education will be very important in the delivery of this project and moving forward. We have established a framework working across multiple agencies—involving community services, health and disability services; partnering


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