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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 December 2016) . . Page.. 288 ..

relationship between early learning and performance tends to be stronger in school systems with longer duration pre-primary education, lower child to staff ratios in pre-primary education and higher public expenditure per child at the pre-primary level.

Policymakers here are starting to realise that the best way to improve later educational performance is to start earlier with quality early learning, and particularly preschool. However, no universal program exists for three-year-olds in Australia. Here in the ACT we offer the Koori preschool program for three and four-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at six sites. We also have some playschools. New South Wales and Victoria provide access to preschool for some disadvantaged three-year-olds.

Unfortunately, while Australia now has strong participation rates in early childhood education in the year before full-time schooling, our participation rate in early childhood education at age three in 2015 was only 66 per cent nationally and 71 per cent here in the ACT.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of reviewing the Mitchell Institute’s seminal report Preschool—two years are better than one—developing a universal preschool program for Australian 3 year olds—evidence, policy and implementation. I would like to acknowledge the authors of the report, Dr Stacey Fox and Myra Geddes, for this important piece of work. This report not only analyses the available evidence but also provides recommendations on how governments in Australia can extend access to preschool. This compelling report and research provides a cogent reason for the new Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs to inquire into universal preschool for three-year-olds. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Rattenbury) adjourned to the next sitting.

Education, Employment and Youth Affairs—Standing Committee


MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (3.59): I move:

That the matter of enrolments and capacity in Canberra public schools, including Priority Enrolment Areas and other factors affecting demand on schools, and any related matters, be referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs for inquiry and report.

Canberra benefits from great public schools. The most recent enrolment data from the education directorate speaks to that popularity. Canberra families are increasingly choosing great local public schools for their children. My community of Yerrabi has seen this first hand. The population growth in Yerrabi, in Gungahlin, in particular, has been some of the fastest in all of Australia and this growth has flowed through to our schools.

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