Baz Ruddick – The Advocate 3 Aug 2016
An investment in play-based learning and a long-term educational strategy that is “not tinkered” with in election cycles would help lift retention rates, says Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest.
“What we tend to see with education, health and infrastructure is that they are constantly tinkered with by governments,” she said.
Mrs Forrest said countries like Finland, which have high retention rates, have cross party agreed educational platforms that are not changed.
In light of planned changes to the Education Act to lower the compulsory education age to four years and six months, Mrs Forrest believes “ensuring every child has access to quality early learning” would be more effective in lifting retention rates.
Using the example of studies by Dr David Whitebread, Mrs Forrest said disadvantaged children are more likely to be engaged and “learn how to learn” by play based learning.
“They learn about self regulation, turn taking, collaboration, sharing,” she said.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the HighScope Perry Preschool Study found that participation in “quality early learning” at ages three or four resulted in a higher likelihood of employment and high school graduation.
Changes to the act also include increasing the leaving requirements to completion of Year 12, a certificate III or reaching 18-years-old.
Mr Rockliff said the $17.72 million Learning in Families together (LIFT) initiative and Launch into Learning will offer greater engagement “than ever before” between schools, students and their families.
Mrs Forrest said the government needs to work with the commonwealth to ensure early education is funded properly with qualified educators, a quality framework and made “geographically and financially” available to all children.
Mrs Forrest added that parents of disadvantaged children who are “disengaged” are much more likely to engage with community based early learning centres.
“You need to engage the whole family and you will change it for those children," she said.