March 11, 2014  |  

Education and Training Reform Amendment (Registration of Early Childhood Teachers and Victorian Institute of Teaching) Bill 2014

Mr HOWARD  (Ballarat East)— I am  pleased to add some  comments in regard to this Education and Training  Reform  Amendment  (Registration of Early Childhood Teachers and Victorian  Institute of Teaching) Bill  2014, because the  focus of this  bill, as  we have heard from other speakers, really  relates to  issues of early childhood education. As the  minister said in his second-reading speech in regard  to this aspect and as others have said,  early  childhood  education  is clearly very important. The ability of students as they start their education if they have  had a quality  preschool education or quality  kindergarten education means that they are set  in a much better situation  in terms of their  reading, spelling and numeracy skills and can progress well into school, and of course this also extends to their socialisation to be ready for school.

This bill recognises preschool  education or early  childhood education as being important, and  accordingly the teachers who  do that important work in teaching in  preschools  and  kindergartens  should be registered through  the  Victorian Institute  of  Teaching, as are  other  teachers in the  formal  education field beyond early childhood development. I certainly want to pay my tribute  to those teachers,  because  having worked with them for many years now I understand  how hard their work is, or  how hard they work. Not  only  do they have the role  of supporting the  children who  are aged three or four  as they  go through  their preschool  education, they are also in a situation where they are generally  the sole  teacher. There  are only one or two teachers in most of  my kindergartens, and they  have the responsibility  of supporting their committee  of management, which changes  over often  each year, as of course children only stay in  kinder for one or two years.

The teachers have a significant responsibility in trying to support the  ongoing management of their kinders  and supporting their committee members. I find that the  majority  of  my  kinder teachers are not employed full-time; they are only employed, and therefore paid, part-time, and that means they do not earn as much as their colleagues who are  teachers  in  primary  schools, where they are more likely than not employed full-time.

They do a great job. They  often do not get the  remuneration that their primary teacher  colleagues do, and  I  want to pay tribute  to  them. Last week  I  was pleased to go  to Scarsdale kindergarten to  meet again with  preschool  teacher Monica Wain, whom I have  met and worked with since before I was  elected in the 1999 election. I found that she  is still there doing a great job supporting her kids,  but is  also always  prepared to  share with  me the  issues  that kinder teachers need to be supported with.

I generally support this bill before the house: the concept of registration does flow on sensibly. Of course, as other speakers  have  said,  the  opposition has concerns  about  the  way  in which this government is proposing to appoint  the committee of the  Victorian Institute  of Teaching, and I hope it can still work without  the democratic process that is being taken away, whereby  11 of  the 12 appointments  will  be  made  by  just the minister instead of  allowing  for  a democratic  process. We  are concerned  about that, but I wanted  to pass  on my appreciation of  the work of early  childhood teachers, and  I generally support that part of this bill.