News Parliament

ADJOURNMENT - CALARE ELECTORATE: EDUCATION

This evening I'd like to highlight to the House the critical importance of preschools and early education in our communities. The early years of a child's life can and do make all the difference in the way a child gains a sense of self, develops their skills and capabilities and learns how to happily interact with others. We shouldn't overlook the need to ensure that our children get a great first start.

There are some wonderful things happening in early childhood education in the Calare electorate, and I would like to bring to the attention of the House some examples this evening. Canowindra Pre-School Kindergarten has now been educating and caring for children in our community for 60 years. On the weekend they marked their diamond jubilee with a celebration, raising funds for a refurbishment and expansion that will help them grow into the next 60 years. Seventy families are currently enrolled, including children from Canowindra, Eugowra, Cudal and Cowra. I'd like this House to recognise the vibrant preschool community of Canowindra and the terrific work they do. This includes Director Liz Frances; teachers Naomi Dwight, Denise Fisher, Katie Kelly, Leanne Coady, Margie Dugurd; and the administrative work of Adelaide Lawrence.

The Cumnock Village Preschool continues to go from strength to strength. This year 38 children are enrolled, and they recently received a federal government stronger communities grant to transform their play space. I have to say the results are spectacular. I would like to acknowledge the terrific work of Director Sarah Evans; Administrative Assistant Sarah Haynes; educators Kristie Blair, Tracey Gosper, Renee Reid, Rachel Johnson and Irene Pottie; and all of the valuable volunteers and parents who help at Cumnock Village Pre-School.

As the former state member for Orange I helped secure $484,000 for Gulgong Pre-School. It had just one classroom and could only take about 20 children a day. The new work that they have undertaken is now complete and it is outstanding. It includes an extra classroom, which has almost doubled capacity to 36 children a day, with a commensurate increase in staff. I'd like to recognise Gulgong's wonderful staff, including Director Wendy Harris; teachers Rachel Clark, Amanda O'Brien and Samantha Seis; and also teaching assistants Karen Hampton, Michelle Gaudry, Sharron Lillewhyte, Linda Oakhill and Kirsty Simpson. Belinda Buckle and Cheryl Kreuzen also provide inclusion support for the preschool. Well done, Gulgong.

Lithgow's Jack and Jill Preschool teaches 120 students each and every week and is playing a big role nurturing the future generation of the area. I wish to acknowledge the wonderful efforts of Director Molly Hewitt; teachers Bianca Dean and Catherine Rivett, who do a wonderful job; and also Judy Houghton, who helps meet additional needs. As part of the Lithgow community school transition network, Jack and Jill Preschool provides a strong transition-to-school program and is now more affordable for more families. Well done to everyone at Jack and Jill.

I'd also like this House to recognise the Oberon Children's Centre, which is moving forward on all fronts by introducing a new preschool transitional program for three-year-olds and by continuing to improve the physical amenities for the development of these children. Each week, the Oberon Children's Centre draws five dozen four- to five-year-olds from Oberon and its surrounding districts. Each day, Director Meredith Cameron and teaching assistants Janice Brennan and Kerri Stewart lead these children on their journeys of learning, discovery and creativity. I should point out that they've just won their class in Oberon Council's waste-to-art program and will progress to exhibit their work in the regional finals in Narromine later this year.

Our families, our communities and our nation benefit enormously from our early educators and their dedication to and care for our children and their development. That's why it's so important that we acknowledge and also support the great work that happens in our preschools and early learning environments. When we speak of education, we often talk of schools and high schools, which are no doubt vitally important, but we shouldn't overlook the early education sector and the valuable work they do for our communities and our families. I know that all members will join with me in recognising and thanking them tonight.