Page 3233 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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possible learning outcomes and lifelong learning outcomes for those particular students. If it comes to the attention of the directorate that the connect 10 program is the best way for these children to be supported, then I would consider that that program will continue.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, will the connect 10 program continue post 2017? If not, why not?

MS BERRY: I responded to the question in my previous answer.

Education—early childhood development

MR STEEL: Can the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development update the Assembly on the work towards an early childhood strategy?

MS BERRY: I thank the member for his interest and early work in this area prior to his election to this Assembly. This is another first in the history of the ACT government, drawing on the foundation principle that every child is valued and that the government is committed to preparing an early childhood strategy. The strategy is a first for the ACT and will guide efforts to support the development and education of children in their early years. Alongside this, the government has elevated the importance of this policy area by for the first time recognising early childhood education as a discrete area of ministerial responsibility.

These are vital decisions and I am sure all us will agree that education is a key in setting a child on the best path to their future. A child’s development and learning does not start at school or when they enter school and it is not confined to activity within the school. So much of what happens beforehand and around school can determine a child’s learning throughout their primary, secondary and tertiary education.

In taking up responsibility for this area I have led the Education Directorate to move to deliver on this commitment early in this term of government. I have kicked it off with the start of the conversation on the future of education. Since then I have also established a new ministerial advisory council comprising representatives from the early childhood education and care sector, including service providers, educator representatives and policy experts. The group met for the first time yesterday, and shortly the first in a series of discussion papers will be released to support the conversation about key issues that the strategy needs to consider.

MR STEEL: Minister, what are some of the emerging directions of the strategy?

MS BERRY: As I mentioned, early childhood development learning starts well before formal school. Cognitive, social and emotional progress during their early years as well as physical health and wellbeing directly affect the ability of a child to engage in school education and learning. But each child reaches school with different factors influencing their early development. Some children start school already behind. It is unacceptable for societal inequality to entrench disadvantage in this way. The

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