Page 2509 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017

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This is a critical problem because, as the report shows, two years of preschool are better than one. Findings from the report and PISA show that the number of years of preschooling education that a child receives is the strongest predictor of educational performance at age 15, adjusting for socioeconomic background. PISA results show that, on average, students who received two or more years of early childhood education and care achieved science results that were a third better than students who received a year or less. Likewise, students who received two or more years of ECEC were less than half as likely to fall below the baseline science proficiency level than students who received a year or less.

In the past I have repeated ad nauseam the findings of the study on the effective provision of preschool, primary and secondary education from the UK, which found that students who undertook two years of early childhood education from age three were more than three times more likely to take higher academic pathways into post-secondary education.

The report from the OECD, Starting Strong, also shows that in Australia this problem is particularly compounded by especially poor attendance rates amongst children from low socioeconomic and immigrant backgrounds, who have the most to gain from access and participation. Without free access to preschool, I suspect that these groups may not be participating at age three in the ACT as well, although some higher socioeconomic groups may be attending through childcare arrangements. This demonstrates again why we need to start the detailed policy work to provide universal access to three-year-olds in this country generally.

Something else contained in the report that can be tackled right now is the state of data available to policymakers and researchers. As Dr Stacey Fox, Sarah Pilcher and Kate Torii of the Mitchell Institute point out in relation to the report, limitations in the current data collections are a real problem, including the large number of three-year-olds attending programs delivered by an early childhood teacher in long day care settings, which is missed in our data collection. This is the responsibility of the COAG early childhood data subgroup. It is vital that this deficiency in our data is addressed as soon as possible, because we need to measure improvements to the participation of children at age three to inform future policy development.

I am delighted that the ACT government is working towards a future of education strategy. I understand that the ACT government will release its early childhood education discussion papers for consultation as part of this work. It is an important process and I hope that the early childhood sector in the ACT, parents and children get involved.

Holy Family Primary School—additional classrooms

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.15): I rise today to speak about the official opening of the new facilities at Holy Family Primary School in Gowrie that I attended, along with Senator Zed Seselja and my Assembly colleague Mark Parton. Holy Family Primary School has been operating since 1985 and has been an important part of the

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