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.