28 Aug 2006, Comments Off on The post with no title

The post with no title

Author: Helen

As a parent of two children who have been through preschool, I’m not qualified to say whether moving the kindergarten system from Human Services to the Department of education, and the preschools to primary school grounds, would be an improvement in terms of “educational outcomes” (ick). My feeling is that children are too poked-at, hothoused and forced to perform like seals as it is. But I think these pundits are all ignoring the fact that such a move would be a disaster in terms of access.

The short hours of preschool mean that children whose mothers are employed are the ones who must have a preschool in the same building as their child care– otherwise, going to preschool may be physically impossible, in the absence of long-suffering grandparents, nannies, or similar, to ferry them around out of work hours.

When I returned to work, in both cases, I managed to find a Community Child Care centre with a kindergarten in the same building complex. Unfortunately, the Community child care centre system is under attack from the for-profit system and an apathetic government.

If the responsibility for kinder was moved to the Education department, kinders would be on school grounds. (Where is the extra space going to come from? It’s not as if our inner-urban schools are spoiled for space!) Even where primary schools are lucky enough to have a before- and after- care centre, these aren’t long day care centres and in no way are they suited to children of preschool age. Is the education department going to provide the long day care? Yeah right!

It’s futile to move the system to a new paradigm where the educational technique may be more whizzbang but kids with working parents miss out. These are likely to be the kids of ordinary workers who can’t pay someone to take little Tarquin to kinder. The ones who probably need kinder the most.

Comments (0)

  • kate says:

    As someone who will have a kid going to kinder in a few years time, when any changes are likely to have taken place, the whole issue really bugs me. I couldn’t give a flying which department takes care of the kinder, I just want them to allocate the resources to do it properly. I want kinder teachers to have pay parity with people who teach prep, so that decent teachers don’t look for more financially rewarding work elsewhere, and I want the administrative work to be done by a qualified professional (not the parents, who have plenty of other work to be getting on with).

    I’m not averse to helping out at a working bee to tidy the playground, and distribute a new load of mulch. I was tickled to sand and re-stain the blocks at my sister’s kinder years ago, and discover that our Mum had played with the same blocks when they were new. I just don’t think it’s fair that parents with administrative and financial skills are compelled to run the place on a day to day basis when no similar committment is expected at other government services. (Well my council don’t call for volunteers to distribute parking fines, and the unemployed don’t write their own Centrelink cheques)

    I agree that keeping combined childcare centres with kinder onsite under one department is more sensible than straddling two. More particularly, I’m frustrated by the premise that the current problems with kinders will be miraculously solved by changing to a new set of public servants in senior management. The problem is a huge shortage of cash – which needs to be allocated to staffing in the kinders (not the Education Department, in St Andrew’s Place, as lovely as they are).

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