Prep year starts for kids and teachers

LITTLE Jakeb Gehrke could hardly hide his excitement as he started his first day of prep year at Allenstown State School yesterday.

What fun there was to be had: There was playdough to mould, building blocks to stack and works of art to create through fingerpainting.

Jakeb was one of 50 youngsters to start prep year in brand new specially designed classrooms at Allenstown State School this year.

Education Queensland regional executive director, Lynne Foley said the prep year concept would be phased in at all schools by the start of next year, replacing the existing pre-school structure.

She said the new system would see children start school six months later on average with admission cut-off dates changing from a calendar year to a financial year.

Ms Foley said children needed to turn five before the end of June to start prep. "To get into prep next year chil- dren will have to be born in the first half of 2002. Children who are eligible to start next year need to be born before 30 June 2002,'' she said.

"Those born in the second half of 2002 and the first half of 2003 will start in 2008.''

Allenstown State School deputy principal Greg Lowcock said while children attending preschool only went to school five days a fortnight, those enrolled in prep year would attend school full time.

He said while the curriculum would remain play-based, teachers would keep a folio of students' work to keep their parents up to date.

And he hoped the prep-yearconcept would improve students social skills.

"They are a little bit older, they are mixing with the younger grades and are wearing their school uniforms so we feel the transition to Year 1 will be easier,'' he said.

Ms Foley said the changes would bring Queensland into line with other states and would help children to refine basic english and math skills.

"It gives young people a better chance of obtaining literacy and numeracy skills,'' she said.

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