Page 1205 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 10 April 2018

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with pay and employment conditions. This solution is simply not viable for the industry; nor is it an acceptable option for the workers.

Early childhood educators have a difficult job but one that is essential to the functioning of our community. Without early childhood educators, working parents would struggle to balance work and caring responsibilities, and children would miss out on the development benefits they get from formal education in their early years.

While the federal coalition government continues to undervalue and disregard the role of early childhood educators in the workforce and, in doing so, underpay workers in majority female industries, educators like Judith, Pixie, Rowena and Francine will continue to suffer. Those who walked off the job are asking for an end to the uneven valuation of traditional male and female work roles. They are asking to be paid as the professionals that they are. And they are asking for proper investment in their industry and in the future of our children.

In 2018 it is outrageous that this sort of gross pay inequality is the standard for the early childhood education profession. Today I would like to congratulate these educators and the big steps campaign for holding the Turnbull government to account for the inequality and mistreatment that still exists in the early childhood education sector. I would like to thank big steps educators for the tireless and thankless work they do every day. They have my support for the work they do and in their call to be paid fairly and treated fairly too.


MS LEE (Kurrajong) (4.41): Madam Deputy Speaker, one of the joys of being an MLA, as you would also be aware, is the opportunity to meet groups of people that you may not have had the opportunity to meet in your previous life. And certainly my shadow portfolio of education has given me the opportunity to visit a number of schools across the territory. The schools have ranged from early learning centres through to year 12, and without exception each has demonstrated without doubt that the education of young people in the ACT is in the good hands of some pretty amazing teachers and school leaders.

The Montessori school at Holder caters for students ranging from babies in its bumps and babies group aged from 0 to 18 months; for 18 month to three-year-olds in the parent toddler program; and in three groups or cycles of three to six years, six to nine years and nine to 12 years. I was taken around the school by Ms Aine Barker, the deputy principal. Ms Barker has taught in Montessori schools in the USA and Ireland and set up the first Montessori school in mainland China. She explained that in the Montessori education system “follow the child” is at the heart of their learning.

Children are in age groupings rather than single years, based on the teaching ethos that every child has a different rhythm and approach to learning. By observing each child, the classroom teacher, or director as they are referred to, observes what activity the child is interested in and uses that to guide their exploration of the curriculum rather than insist on set lessons on set topics. A small school of 130 students, Montessori is a wonderful example of the range of educational choices that parents

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