Page 5124 - Week 12 - Thursday, 27 October 2011

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Education Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (10.39): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am introducing the Education Amendment Bill 2011 in response to two major initiatives that have occurred in our public school preschool units over the last three years. The first is the amalgamation of public preschool units into our public primary schools. The second is the introduction of the Education and Care Services National Law (ACT) Act 2011 which implements the national quality framework across the majority of education and care services in the territory. For the first time, ACT public preschool units will be included under this legislation.

The ACT has led the way across Australia in terms of support for preschool education. From the 1940s the government, in partnership with the community, began to develop preschool sites and the first preschools in the territory were opened. They showcased the start of investment in education for children under five in the ACT. From that time we have seen significant changes across preschools in the territory. There are now 76 preschool sites across public schools in the ACT, delivering education to over 4,100 children in the territory, as reported in the February 2011 census.

Existing non-government preschools, such as the Catholic Education Office and independent preschools, are currently licensed through the Community Services Directorate. They will transition to the Education and Care Services National Law (ACT) Act 2011 and will not be impacted by the Education Amendment Bill 2011.

The amalgamation of public preschools and public schools was the next part of a journey that has seen many positive developments for the preschool unit children, families, staff and schools. Preschool children are now able to develop closer ties to their amalgamated primary school. Increased opportunities to visit and feel comfortable in the school environment enable richer transition opportunities for preschool children, leading to greater success in kindergarten. Many children develop buddy relationships with older children in the school. They are also able to take advantage of the rich resources available in our primary schools, such as libraries, gyms and sporting equipment, specialist rooms, such as the art or music room, and IT resources.

Families are able to develop closer ties to the schools and utilise the rich resources and equipment that are available. Staff receive greater support from school leadership teams and other colleagues and can participate in whole school planning and

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