Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher is calling on the McGowan Labor Government to provide immediate certainty to community kindergartens in Mount Helena and Coolbellup that they can operate next year.
Mrs Faragher said it was not fair that Mount Helena Community Kindergarten and Pineview Community Kindergarten in Coolbellup were still waiting to have their exemptions to operate next year approved by the government.
“It is completely unacceptable that these community kindergartens are still in limbo at the start of the September school holidays,” Mrs Faragher said.
“These kindergartens have appropriately sought an exemption through the Department of Education and they should have been provided it by now.”
In 2017, Education Minister Sue Ellery increased, without consultation, the enrolment threshold for community kindergartens to access teaching staff and grant funding from 10 to 16 students.
“This unnecessary change should have been reversed a long time ago as it continues to put these kindergartens, particularly those in smaller communities, under significant pressure.” President of the Community Kindergartens Association Jo Matthewson said the Association had worked with the Department over the past few years to improve processes for kindergartens, particularly those with lower enrolments. This included bringing forward the exemption request date so that a decision could be made before the end of Term Three.
“Despite these changed processes, not all kindergartens were given an answer with Mount Helena and Pineview still waiting at the end of the term,” Mrs Matthewson said.
“This creates uncertainty and undue stress to staff, committees and families and it simply isn’t acceptable.”
Mrs Faragher said while Mount Helena and Pineview community kindergartens had not quite met the required enrolment threshold, the government needed to realise they provided an important option for many families and they should continue to be supported.
“It is not fair that the parent management committees are still not able to give certainty to staff and to families who want to send their children to these community kindergartens next year.
“I’m calling on Minister Ellery to provide an immediate exemption to these kindergartens to give them this certainty. They need the green light now,” Mrs Faragher said.
With a strong focus on play-based learning, community kindergartens have long been recognised as an acceptable alternative to school-based kindergarten programmes.