Prep to become compulsory in QLD from 2017
ALL Prep-aged children will be in a Prep classroom from 2017, under a plan announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today.
Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland parents had been able to enrol their children in Prep since 2007.
However, she said under current arrangements legislation did not require Queensland children to complete a fulltime Prep year before entering Year 1.
Ms Palaszczuk said since the introduction of a Prep year and the National Curriculum, there had been a strong overall improvement in Queensland's Year 3 NAPLAN results.
"We want all students to benefit from a fulltime Prep year before starting Year 1," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"I want to build on the Government's provision of 15 hours each week of kindergarten for all our four-year-olds.
"It was a Labor Government that footed the bill and kick-started universal Prep in 2007 - addressing a great disadvantage for our youngsters."
In 2015 98% of Year 1 students attended a year of schooling before commencing Year 1.
Estimates are that around 500 children are missing out of the benefits of Prep.
"We want all students to attend class every school day because we know that fulltime Prep is a great start to school and an important start to learning," Ms Palaszczuk said.
Education Minister Kate Jones said the past ten years had clearly shown just how beneficial a Prep year was to a child's early phase of learning.
"It's been almost 10 years since Labor introduced the Prep year and NAPLAN results have proven the benefits of this extra year of schooling," Ms Jones said.
"Last year's Year 7s were the first full Prep cohort and they returned their best ever results for reading, spelling and numeracy.
"They are better equipped for their seamless entry into more formal education in our schools.
"However, some children are missing out on the benefits of a full Prep year.
"As a result some children are behind those who have had the advantage of a fulltime Prep year when they start in Year 1.
"Like the Premier, I believe a compulsory Prep year will benefit children's education," Ms Jones said.
Ms Palaszczuk said another great benefit was the ability of teachers to identify students who may need further assistance early on in their education "All our children must have the same opportunity and the very best of starts with their schooling," she said.
"I have asked the Education Minister to begin consulting with parents, teachers, early childhood educators and other key stakeholders as we prepare the legislation required to make this happen.
"So principals and parents have plenty of time to prepare for the introduction of compulsory Prep, we will introduce the necessary changes to the Education General Provisions Act later this year.
"There still needs to be some flexibility, as I do understand in some circumstances some children may not be ready for Prep in the year they turn 5 by the 30th June and may need an extra year of kindy.
"However, every child will need to attend Prep as the first step in their formal school education."
President of the Queensland Association of State School Principals Michael Fay said Prep gives children the best possible start to their education.
"This sends a strong message that Prep is a vitally important part of school education laying a strong foundation for the primary years which follow," Mr Fay said.