The following is a speech made in Queensland Parliament on 14th November 2012 by Steve Minnikin MP, State Member for Chatsworth.
(5.03 pm): I rise in this chamber to support the Education Legislation Amendment Bill 2012. As a husband of a wonderfully dedicated teacher, I commend the minister for bringing this amendment bill to the House. Providing quality education is something that the Newman government is very passionate about. No one political party has a mortgage over the educational goals of our societies, as those on the left would like us to believe. For too long the state of Queensland has been lagging behind other states in terms of literacy and numeracy skills. It is time to get back to basics, which is why I am thrilled that the minister has presented an amendment bill that is introducing the e-kindy program.
Introducing this digital, teacher based learning program that is delivered via the internet ensures that, no matter where children live — whether it is in the rural areas of Queensland or in the metropolitan suburbs of Brisbane — they will receive a quality education. Every child is given the opportunity to access quality early learning programs. Currently, parents are only able to access the kindy program through centre based long-day care while geographically challenged parents would struggle to physically access this type of resource. Thankfully, now the Newman government is making it easy for all children and their parents to access this important early stage of a child’s education in order to give all Queensland children an equal footing when they begin primary school and continue on to secondary education.
By delivering this important program, the Newman government makes it clear that every child deserves to access the same education whether they attend kindy through traditional channels or through distance education. There will no longer be the traditionally tyranny of distance. Not only will e-kindy be made available to children who live in rural or remote parts of Queensland; it will also be available for families whose children may suffer medical issues or have circumstances which prevent them from attending traditional kindy programs. Delivering e-kindy through the school of distance education takes advantage of the already built-up skills, experience and knowledge of the dedicated distance education teachers. Utilising the infrastructure, processes, policies and procedures that the school of distance education has developed over the years ensures that e-kindy is effectively delivered to all children.
This amendment bill will ensure that the school of distance education can deliver not only primary and secondary education, but also the important foundation kindergarten education. Taking advantage of the well established networks of the school of distance education ensures a smooth transition for children who may go on to distance primary and secondary education. To ensure that every child has the opportunity to access quality education, this amendment bill must be supported in order to ensure it is possible for this important learning program to be established. Not only will this amendment bill make it possible for e-kindy to be rolled out throughout Queensland, it will also make it possible for the Queensland College of Teachers under the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005 to adopt professional standards developed by other bodies. Presently, the QCT are unable to adopt any standards not developed by the Queensland body.
As I stated previously, I am the husband of a highly dedicated teacher and I understand the importance of having clear professional standards. Professional standards provide guidelines for teachers and provide guidance on what benchmarks teachers should meet. It provides a timeline for a teacher’s professional development and what they should be competent with at a certain stage of their career.
Since coming to office in March of this year as the member for Chatsworth, I have been incredibly impressed with the quality and professionalism of all the teaching staff I have had the pleasure of meeting throughout my electorate. Teaching is without a shadow of a doubt one of the noblest of all professions. The difference teachers make to individuals cannot be measured in monetary terms. Quality teaching techniques and professional standards are an integral mix in propelling Queensland students forward on the educational pathway of life. Adopting the national professional standards will make life easier for our hardworking and dedicated Queensland teachers. It provides clear guidelines on the standards and processes required for teachers to get qualified, whether a teacher is fresh out of university in Queensland or has relocated from interstate. This amendment bill ensures that teachers can focus on what is really important: educating the children of Queensland instead of worrying about red tape to get registered in Queensland.
The Newman government is committed to providing easier ways for the registration of teachers in order that we may encourage more people to take up this vital profession. Teaching is a vocation in life and we should not be dragging teachers down with unnecessary red tape, especially when they are performing one of the most important jobs: educating the future of Queensland, our children. Teachers are important members of our society. In fact, it was World Teachers Day on Friday, 26 October. Earlier that week I had the pleasure of celebrating this occasion in the Chatsworth electorate with Tingalpa State School. It was wonderful to spend time with these teachers honouring the great work they do. Even though sharing some celebratory cake was a small gesture towards their very important role in society, like most in this chamber, I am sure of the enduring appreciation we have of teachers and what they do towards bettering the education of all our children. As previously mentioned, teaching is a vocation in life and it is important to make sure that efforts do not go unnoticed. These dedicated professionals are responsible for teaching our children to read and write and it is important that we make their life a lot easier among the marking, lesson planning and other tasks that go hand in hand with being a teacher.
Anyone in this chamber who thinks members of this profession clock on at 8.45am and end at 3pm does not live with a teacher. I support this amendment bill. Simply put, without bedding down solid educational foundations children will be forever behind the eight ball in their studies, the ramifications of which can be enduring throughout the rest of their lives.
There is a famous saying that we all know: you need to learn to walk before you can run. Therefore, I cannot stress enough the importance of the government implementing the e-kindy program. It is crucial that the government give proper access to all kids in relation to early-learning programs so that they can easily facilitate the transition into primary and secondary school education. I thoroughly support this amendment bill, not only as a proud member of parliament who has 10 outstanding schools in the Chatsworth electorate but also as a parent who has two school-age sons whose lives have been indelibly touched and enhanced by their teachers and as the husband of a very hardworking and dedicated teacher. I commend the bill to the House.