The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Region Wendy Lovell has criticised the Andrews Labor Government’s poor attempt at the Early Years component of the Shepparton Education Plan and questioned where the primary years component of the plan has disappeared to.
“The Early Years document released on Friday is not only 28 months overdue but is more of a discussion paper than a plan on how to improve outcomes for children in early childhood services in Greater Shepparton and only sets out a number of things they intend to analyse, explore, evaluate, review or develop in the early childhood space.
“Considering both the Early Years and Primary components were first due in December 2018, pushed out to early 2020 and then further pushed out to March 2021, it would be reasonable to expect that much of the work identified in this paper as needing to be done should have already been completed to ensure the plan included solutions not just more investigation.
“As a former Minister for Early Childhood I know that early childhood services deliver the most critical stage of a child‘s education as more than 95% of brain development occurs in the first five years of life – before children enter primary school. It is early childhood educators and centres that set children up for a life of learning and it is in this stage of a child’s education that the education system can make the biggest differences for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore, it is critical that this stage of the Shepparton Education Plan is thorough and delivers investment in quality improvement of programs and professional development for early childhood educators. Unfortunately, this document does not deliver in these areas.
“Only two weeks ago it was identified that a decade after the National Quality Standards for Early Childhood were introduced there are still services in Shepparton that have not met the quality standard and are still rated as ‘working towards’. And while a few local services are rated as ‘exceeding the standard’ not a single service has achieved the ‘excellent’ rating. So where is the commitment from the Government for additional assistance to ensure that not only do all services meet the National Quality Standard but more services exceed the standard and ultimately achieve the excellent rating? And where is the commitment to professional development for educators to help them to achieve this?
“It is also disappointing that the document has not committed to more co-located and integrated early childhood centres in Shepparton as the Mooroopna centre (committed in Stage 1) will not service families based in Shepparton.
“After waiting all this time for the early years and primary component of the Shepparton Education Plan, the document the Andrews Labor Government released on Friday contains nothing about the plan for Primary School.
“Minister for Education James Merlino must come clean on when we can expect to see the primary education component of the plan and when all the work outlined in the document the Government released on Friday will be completed, so we know what will be done to improve early childhood and primary education in Greater Shepparton.”
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