Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 13 August 2014) . . Page.. 2412 ..
(2) calls on the Minister for Education and Training to:
(a) seek immediate assurances from the Australian Government ministers responsible for early childhood education on the continuation of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education with the ACT Government, at existing funding levels; and
(b) report to the Assembly later this year on discussions with the Australian Government on the future of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
It is with great concern that I rise today to move this motion. I heard from the minister last week that there had been no ongoing commitment from the commonwealth for continued funding to ensure universal access to early childhood education. We know that the early years of children’s lives are critical to later learning success. Ensuring that all young people have the best possible start in life is vital to the wellbeing of families and our community. Many studies have shown that there are significant benefits for children who attend high-quality preschools, including greater economic outcomes and higher levels of concentration and sociability and independence.
Research has shown, and parents know, that it is proven that attendance at preschool has significant positive effects on their literacy and numeracy outcomes for students. According to research undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 15-year-old students who attended preschool for one year or more scored more than 30 points higher in reading than those who did not attend the program for international student assessment. OECD evidence indicates that disadvantaged children have the greatest potential to benefit from preschool education.
All of that evidence is held up by the experience of Canberra parents. I often chat with other Canberra parents about preschool, and I have not spoken to a single parent who does not understand how important this is. When I asked this week about why parents thought preschool was important, I got some great responses. One of them was from Alison, who said:
As a parent I’ve really appreciated the way preschool helps me transition my daughter into our wonderful local school community (hooray for early childhood schools). It’s been a gentle stepping stone for us to learn about all things school related—packing lunches, 9 am starts, classrooms, uniforms. While the 2.5 days can be challenging to balance with work, the co-located child care makes this seamless, we appreciate that the part-time nature reduces the pressure of this change on our family. There are so many things we love about preschool.
Some parents have reflected on what it meant to miss out on preschool. They said that it was important. Their daughter had missed out on preschool because they were travelling, and when she started kindy she never seemed to be able to catch up on what all the other kids had already learned. She is only just catching up now, and she is in year 3, and that is with tutoring for one day a week.
These parents know from their experiences exactly what the research says, that it is government’s role to give kids the best start in life by investing in early childhood education and care. As far back as 2006, the ACT Labor government took action to