Prep year ?step forward

By JOSEPH TERNOWETSKY ? A NON-COMPULSORY preparatory year introduced by the State Government will bring Queensland's education into line with the rest of the country, said the CEO of a community childcare centre.

"We support the introduction of the prep year,'' Barrie Elvish, CEO of C and K Pre-schooling Professionals said.

"Our pre-schools will be losing the older-age students.''

Under the new system, all Queensland children will have access to a full-time preparatory year from 2007.

Children born on or after January 1, 2002, will be eligible for the preparatory year.

Children born between January 1 and December 31, 2001, including those who complete pre-school in 2006, will enrol in Year 1 in 2007.

And in 2008, the compulsory school starting age will increase by six months.

Under the new system children must be six by June 30 to enrol in school. And as a way of keeping numbers up, many of the non-state preschools would target younger children for their pre-schools, Mr Elvish said.

"Our education program will focus on children from three and a half to four and a half,'' he said.

Mr Elvish also said non-state schools that do not follow the Government's new preparatory school standards may have trouble coping with the new policy.

"Some private childcare facilities will be feeling the pinch,'' he said. "Many do not offer the education, but we have qualified teachers at our schools.''

The Queensland Government has budgeted $395 million for refurbishing existing classrooms for the new preparatory year.



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