The pages below relate to recent Queensland projects where ECTA has represented our membership. See also the section IN THE NEWS for media releases and other items possibly relevant to members.
Advocating for play in Prep 11 -12 September 2014
Great beginnings. Promising futures. Event
Leonie Mitchell (ECTA Secretary) and Kim Walters (ECTA State Coordinating Committee) with Minister of Education John-Paul Langbroek at the Great beginnings. Promising futures. Early Childhood and the Queensland Plan networking event.
Extremely pleasing to hear from Dr Jim Watterston Director-General Department Education, Training and Employment that play is an essential pedagogical practice in Early Childhood Education for children 0-8.
ECTA represents the views of members wherever possible. Kim and Leonie spoke to the DG Education and Gabrielle Sinclair Deputy DG at the event about the pressures on students and the necessity for play to be the
In the NEWS
- 2015 September 26 University of Woolongong: Dads who read to their children give them an early start
- 2015 September 24 Perth Now The Courier Mail: Test for early admission into prep to take pressure off of principals - Education Minister Kate Jones said the formal framework, which will be brought in for students starting Prep in 2017, would help ease the pressure on principals to decide if a student younger than the cut-off was ready for school.
"We need a fairer system that takes pressure off principals, so we're working with principals, teachers, parents and early childhood educators to develop a clear and consistent framework to determine a child's eligibility for early entry into Prep," Ms Jones said.
"The formal framework will form an objective assessment of a child's social, emotional and physical readiness for early entry into Prep and will remove the pressure that's currently placed on principals."
The announcement, which will affect state, Catholic and independent schools, comes after Ms Jones last week reversed the change that saw children needing to be five before July 31 back to June 30.
- 2015 August 25 The Courier Mail: Queensland Prep age reform may be wound back - AN ABRUPT change to the age Queensland children are eligible for Prep could be rolled back after it was revealed the move was forced through at the former premier's request.
The change, which occurred during the summer school holidays, allowed students early entry into Prep if they turned five by July 31 rather than June 30.
The move sparked concern in the school sector that more than 5000 children could go straight into Prep without the transitional year of kindy, after the Department of Education also changed the eligible kindergarten age.
A briefing note dated November 13, 2014, has revealed that then premier Campbell Newman requested the department to change the legislation for early entry into Prep for the start of the following year.
One source told The Courier-Mail the policy change "happened overnight and by stealth".
Education Minister Kate Jones said there had been overwhelming concern.
She said it placed a significant burden on principals.
- 2015 August 15 The Courier Mail: parents and experts say all work and no play behind soaring number of prep suspensions - Brisbane pediatrician Andrea McGlade said her Possums Clinic had recorded a spike in Prep-aged children presenting with behavioural problems as a result of their difficulties in coping with a sit-and-learn curriculum.
"Most of these children have underlying developmental or learning difficulties that mean that they are struggling to adapt to the requirements of the classroom," Dr McGlade said.
It is hugely concerning that children are ever suspended from the early years of school, she says, but particularly prep kids too young to make "good behavioural choices".
She says there has been no deterioration in the developmental status of prep-aged children, proven by two Australian Early Development Censuses in 2009 and 2012. What has changed in that time, though, is the arrival of the new curriculum.
With teachers tied to more rigid schoolwork structures and targets, they have less flexibility to adapt teaching to help these children through, she says.
Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters can recall when prep suspensions were in single figures.
The national curriculum and its effect on children, she says, is a huge talking point among teachers with the problem set to worsen under DETE's new early-start provisions allowing children to start the school year aged four (if they are five before July 31.)
Walters says the concerns are borne out in a recent survey of early-childhood teachers showing only 12 of 62 prep children in the teachers' care were coping. (Most were girls). Almost 60 per cent of the teachers thought kids should be at least five before starting prep, and only 4 per cent of prep teachers supported the early-entry provision. Importantly, the teachers noted that while most kids may be academically ready, they are not ready physically, socially and emotionally.
- 2015 July 10 The Courier Mail: National summit on school engagement told children learning to hate school in first few years - CHILDREN are learning to hate school in the first few years after starting Prep when they are often pushed into classes they don't understand, an expert claims.
With pressure put on them to get through set lessons and be NAPLAN-ready by Year 3, kids are losing their excitement for school within two years, says Queensland University of Technology School of Cultural and Professional Learning Associate Professor Linda Graham.
- 2015 May 26 The Courier Mail: Bright Colours reported to be a cause of stress in young children - The Parent-Infant and Child Institute director said that although it might seem "counter-intuitive", rooms designed for children should not use overly bright colours or have too many activities.
"People think we should have bright primary colours but that's incredibly distracting for children and it makes them struggle in regulating their behaviour," she said. Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said it was important for kindergartens not to go too far the other way.
"It has to be well-thought out so that it stimulates a child's learning," she said.
Dr Brandt said blues and greens were better for kindergartens.
- 2014 November 10 CourierMail: More-parents-are-delaying-their-childs-start-into-prep-with-the-number-more-than-doubling-in-four-years - MORE of the littlest Queenslanders are delaying their start into Prep, with the number more than doubling in four years.
The number of students aged six or older by July 1 who enrolled in Prep for the first time - and therefore could have attended Prep the year earlier - increased from 475 in 2010 to 1148 in 2014.
Parents are also increasingly delaying their child's exit from kindergarten, with the number of children in kindergarten aged five or older as at July 1 - who could have enrolled in Prep - at 3204 in 2012 and 3089 in 2013.
Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said some children were not ready for school. "It's just the overload of content, the crowded curriculum," she said.
"If the children are not ready, the best gift parents can give them is an extra year to be ready … it's about their social and physical development."
Minister for Education John-Paul Langbroek said the introduction of Prep had been beneficial for Queensland students but there were no plans at this stage to make it compulsory.
- 2014 October 29 Herald Sun: university-of-adelaide-study-of-more-than-3200-children-finds-those-who-regularly-attend-childcare-more-likely-to-misbehave
- 2014 October 26 The Sunday Mail: Fewer state school students being held back but numbers increase for Prep pupils - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the increase in Prep students being held back showed they were not ready to start school. "I believe the number of children being held back in Prep has increased simply because the demands on them are so much higher," she said. "They're not coping with Prep and so it's not appropriate to be sending them on to Year 1."
- 2014 October 18 News Corp: Queensland school suspensions soar as principals gain greater powers - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the high number of Prep suspensions was due to curriculum pressures.
- 2014 August 30 The Daily Telegraph: Principals call for a national standard school starting age of five-and-a-half
- 2014 August 24 Courier Mail: Prep children to learn a second language
- 2014 July 17 Courier Mail: Parents want Prep to do it all, says Education minister John-Paul Langbroek - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said children's speech had become "a growing concern", with parents obsessed by their phones hampering kids' language development.
"A lot of parents don't talk to their children as much as they should," she said.
"A big issue is parents with their heads in their phones and not making eye contact, that's a really huge issue now ... not being there in the moment to just casually talk about something ... because they are looking at their phone they miss so many opportunities."
- 2014 January 27 Courier Mail: Tech-savvy kids can use an iPad but can't tie their own shoelace - Kim Walters, president of the early childhood teachers association, said parents were "opting for the easy way" in sending most Prep and Grade One kids to school in velcro shoes, with teachers forced to help the few who did wear lace-ups.
"If a child comes with shoelaces and they cannot tie them we will sit down and teach them but you would hope it would also be taught at home," she said.
- 2013 September 13 Gold Coast Bulletin: Gold Coast tops the state list for most prep students suspended - She said children who were not ready should be held back from starting school, a suggestion backed by Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters.
Ms Walters said that many parents felt an age pressure to start their children at school and called for kindergartens to be more involved in the decision.
Ms Walters said it was not a matter of a child being able to count to 10 - it was whether they were emotionally and socially ready - and she warned sending a child to school too early could backfire.
She said children who did not cope became anxious, frustrated and "acted up", leading to suspensions.
- 2013 September 1 Courier Mail: Kids 'too young' for school - CHILDREN should be banned from starting formal education before they turn five, with experts warning students who begin too young are falling behind and calling for a standard national school age.
Amid a new international push towards later school entry, early childhood teaching experts and peak bodies warned many Australian children were too little to learn in classrooms.
- 2013 August 26 The Courier-Mail: Kids who are not socially or emotionally ready for Prep should stay home another year - Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said while it was a teacher's job to be able to work with a child at any academic stage, if they were not socially and emotionally ready for Prep it hampered their academic progress.
"Those emotional and social issues are far more important than the intellectual," she said.
"If you have a very immature boy you're best to keep him home and send him next year."
- 2013 August 26 Courier Mail: Drop in Kindergarten numbers - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the tiny increases were bigger than they looked because the 2009 Year 2s - the first Prep cohort - included only students from the youngest half of the grade.
The first full year of Prep, including pupils in the older six-month group, are in Year 2 this year. Ms Walters said the inclusion of older students would bump the scores up.
- 2013 June 4 Courier Mail: Prep students' behaviour would improve with more play, says C&K - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said by-the-book teaching was not always best for new Prep students.
"In the majority of cases, being a little more mature and older means they fly through Prep . . . it's setting them up for success," she said.
"Students need to have a positive first year."
- 2013 3 June 3 Herald Sun: Prep School bans soar amid rise in classroom violence - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said she believed there was a link between the suspension jump and the introduction of the Australian Curriculum, which had resulted in less play-based and more focused learning in state schools.
She said boys who had not been to kindergarten struggled.
"A lot of the focused learning is full group, which assumes everyone is on the same page at the same level of understanding and they are not," Ms Walters said.
"So the children that aren't, are sitting there bored because they don't understand what is going on.
"We are putting the children into a situation which leads them to have higher anxiety levels, higher disconnection, higher stress levels.
"Therefore, the ones that aren't coping with that are acting out in the only way they can - in a violent way."
- 2013 March 17 The Sunday Mail: Review call as state scraps time guide - Students aged 4-5 are now often being sent home with "readers".
Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said they were against that idea, with Prep students better off reading practical texts such as recipes and catalogues at home, or having stories read to them by parents.
- 2013 February 3 Courier Mail: Reports on way to Prep, as union warns they could traumatise young children - Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said she was concerned some parents might still equate the five-point scale to the A to E and that wouldn't be fair because Queensland children were not yet on an even playing field with those interstate.
"Because our curriculum in Queensland is assuming that 98 per cent of children have attended an approved kindergarten program and the reality is not that, many children won't reach the expectations simply because of their prior experience," she warned.
She said while ECTA accepted report cards were used in the Australian Curriculum, Prep students could progress quickly, raising concerns about young children being labelled as failing.
- 2012 May 25 The Courier Mail: Prep teachers call for more aides - Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said behavioural difficulties had risen among the state's youngest students since Prep was introduced and the new Australian Curriculum meant teachers needed them even more.
She said expectations on Preps had increased under the new curriculum and staff needed to spend more one-on-one time with students.
Under the old preschool regime, students had full-time teacher aides, but these were changed to part-time when Prep was introduced.
"We welcome the increase but it is not far enough, full-time teacher aides need to be in every classroom," Mrs Walters said.
- 2012 March 2 national News Corps: Teacher aides for preps under $54m LNP pledge - Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters welcomed the announcement, saying full-time prep teacher aides were needed even more now because of the Australian Curriculum rollout.
"Because of the content we need to support the children that aren't ready for it. We are finding we need our aide even more,'' she said.
She said under the previous preschool regime there was a full-time aide for every class from about 8.30am until 3.30pm.
- 2012 February 15 The Courier-mail: Chaos in schools, warn teachers as Australian curriculum rolled out - Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said some of the new curriculum content was too hard for the state's youngest children and teachers couldn't download required resources because the network kept crashing or there were access and speed problems. ....
Ms Walters said curriculum content was another problem, with Preps in particular not ready for some of it.
"One of our lessons in the first week ... was recognising the number name F-O-U-R, for four. Some of them can't even recognise their name," she said.
"Just having your 26 children sitting on a mat all doing the same thing at once ... is physically impossible in the first week of school with children who aren't ready to do school yet. I think some of the children are very stressed.
"Definitely there are a lot of stressed teachers as they try to do their very best."
She also said teachers were being sent mixed messages about whether they had to teach C2C lesson plans, but EQ had moved to fix this.
- 2011 June 20 The Courier Mail: Prep to be 'compulsory' - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters praised the decision to give parents a choice about when their child was ready.
She and Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus said students who went into Year 1 without Prep would struggle.
- 2011 January 9 Courier Mail: Too many teachers chasing too few jobs in Queensland - ''As the rollout of universal access (to kindergarten) continues, it is expected that the supply of early childhood graduates will meet demand,'' Mr Barlow said.
Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters agrees, but cautions that harsher working conditions in many privately run daycare kindergartens were putting off talented new teachers.
- 2010 November 21 National News Limited: Kids at loss with words as report reveals Prep readers falling behind - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the tiny increases were bigger than they looked because the 2009 Year 2s - the first Prep cohort - included only students from the youngest half of the grade.
The first full year of Prep, including pupils in the older six-month group, are in Year 2 this year. Ms Walters said the inclusion of older students would bump the scores up.
- 2010 July 7 National News Limited Classes overcrowded from Prep to Year 3 - But Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said she was aware of Prep classes which had not been offered anything extra despite being over target.
She said just one child over the target put extra stress on Prep children.
- 2010 June 28 Courier-Mail: Prep year change from optional to compulsory - Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Margaret Black said "the message coming through loud and clear" from A Flying Start forums was that the community thought Prep should be compulsory.
But she said the association's policy that Prep should be optional would remain.
"Parents know their children better than anybody else at that age group and some children may just not be ready at that stage," she said.
Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters agreed.
Ms Walters said while she understood why principals wanted Prep to be compulsory, the reality was some children would not be ready for it.
- 2010 March 22 Courier Mail: Three-year-olds tested in strict selection processes for Prep - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the national curriculum had increased classroom expectations, but the pressure began with NAPLAN.
"I think what is happening is there is a definite push down on expectations and that is from NAPLAN," Ms Walters said.
She said that some of the testing by private schools was creating too high an expectation on children, creating undue pressure.
- 2010 March 2 Herald Sun: National curriculum 'a back to basics' - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said it was a sad day for Queensland's play-based Prep.
"Outdoor play will suffer because of this, I am very disappointed," she said.
- 2009 October 18 The Courier-Mail: Queensland daycare changes improve services - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters welcomed the funding but said Queensland still had "a long way to go" in achieving the same early childhood education standards as other states.
- 2009 September 14 National News Corp: Students to suffer from overcrowded prep classes,educators warn
- 2009 March 1 Courier Mail: Follow up on violent prep kids - Early Childhood Teachers Association president Kim Walters said the decision to downgrade full-time teacher aides to part-time in the 2007 changeover from preschool to Prep would be fuelling the out-of-control behaviour.
``When there are two adults in the room children are scaffolded in their behaviour and you can control them a lot more easily,'' Ms Walters said.
- 2009 March 1 The Courier Mail: Violence in Prep schools sparks call to action
- 2006 August 26 The Courier Mail: Prep year: The call for fulltime teacher aides - The Early Childhood Teachers Association also has thrown its support behind the campaign.