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Education Bill Has Gaping Holes

21 Sep 2016

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Education spokesperson

All Tasmanians want to see education outcomes improve, but the Liberals' Education Bill has some gaping holes.

We will take our time to closely scrutinise the legislation tabled today and will be holding the Education Minister to account when it comes to the Parliamentary debate. 

The Education Bill will leave Tasmanian parents confused about exactly when their children should be starting school.

Tasmanians who are having babies this year will be the first forced to make a decision on when their children start school.

Under this Bill they will have three possible starting ages, three and half year and four year olds can attend kindergarten, but all will have to be in a classroom by five.  While that gives some flexibility for families who will be making decisions based on their children's development at that point, it also brings parental uncertainty.

Tasmania currently has 26 combined prep and kindergarten classes. It's clear many Tasmanian children will be in the same class as children with vastly different educational and developmental needs.

At three and a half, a child's routine may still include toilet training, nappy changes and naps, as well as the other social and emotional transitions from toddlerhood to childhood.

When a child enters prep, they are more independent in their basic needs, and are also being assessed against the Australian curriculum. Prep students have a very different school plan, which is not based on play.

Teacher ratios must be assessed against the National Quality Framework to ensure there are enough teachers and teachers assistants in classrooms. It's students who will suffer if classes aren't resourced properly.

It's very concerning to see the final Education Bill has grouped all education systems under the one Registrar, despite considerable concerns raised by the home education community.

During consultation, home educators raised issues with specialist understanding being removed from their administration. It appears their fears were well founded, and their concerns ignored.

Tasmanian home education leads the nation, both in the numbers of students registered and the reporting requirements. We can't let students educated at home down, by creating a system that doesn't fit or understand their needs.

It's extremely disappointing that Minister Rockliff has ignored the concerns of so many Tasmanians. These are once in a generation changes to our education system and they'll only be successful with strong community support.