Schools Council, Snapshot of the Early Years of Schooling - The Second Paper in the Schools Council Series of Compulsory Years of Schooling Project. National Board of Employment, Education and Training, 1992
Marieta Hope, Dale Symons
Community Resources Section, Department of Transport
As society changes it becomes increasingly difficult to classify a typical primary school, student or family. Social, cultural and work situations have changed substantially through restructuring of national and local economies. As the focus of society changes so too must education in order for those requirements to be met.
The main aim of Snapshot is to provide a national overview of early years of schooling in Australia because for the past two decades, much of the educational impetus has been directed towards secondary and post-secondary training. Each state and territory has its own system for pre- and early-primary education ranging from different primary school entry age to different terminology for early childhood education.
The data gathered for Snapshot assists in providing an understanding of the current national practices, raises issues and highlights key findings to encourage discussion and debate to ensure the early years of education are providing the basis for sound educational development and ensures that this early education is relevant for our rapidly changing society as well as being a rewarding experience for each child and their parents or caregivers.
Key findings and strategies addressed by Snapshot are the links between preschool and primary school, flexible strategies, curriculum development learning outcomes, parent participation, resource utilisation and teacher education.
The body of the report provides a comprehensive overview of children in Australia. A nationwide breakdown of statistics is provided and includes numbers of children in Government and non-Government schools, nationality of parents and numbers of children in cities and in rural locations. Instances of positive action occurring in areas such as numeracy, literacy, LOTE, student-teacher relationships, performance monitoring and parent participation have also been reported by Snapshot.
Snapshot examines areas of concern such as the level of physical and human resources, inequality in many areas of physical space and resources, professional development for teachers and self esteem of both pupils and teachers.
The early years of schooling have not kept up with the dramatic changes in society. Responsibility of moving into regions, integrating children with disabilities and creating more flexible school hours are some of the issues highlighted by Snapshot. Greater collaboration between those responsible for health and welfare of the young to create a vision for the future which will enable children to participate effectively in the 21 Century.
Snapshot, available from Government printing offices is well set out with white space and photographs to offset the text. It is highly desirable reading for all those involved in Early Childhood Education and interesting reading for all others involved in the education field. A comprehensive list of references are included at the end and provide a useful basis from which to further explore issues. As a text aiming to provoke debate and action it has certainly achieved this.