Preschool numbers drop as parents struggle to pay fees

08/06/2012 2:02
Preschool numbers drop as parents struggle to pay fees

Hot on the heals of my previous post comes this article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Public preschools were conceived as a way of providing an avenue for children from low income families, whose parents are not able to afford to send their children to private institutions, to prepare themselves for entry to the formal school system. I paticularly love the quote from the education department spokesperson who states               “enrolment numbers were similar to those from last year”, when it’s obvious from what their Public schools are reporting that this is not the case. Adrian Piccolis’ party line about ”We want to ensure that this remains the case.” is obviously just the mindless bureaucratic rhetoric we’ve come to expect.

This is what happens when you run a state government into the ground, allowing your cronies to plunder it along the way, you lose your Health, Education and Transport systems. It all happens so slowly that the general public is not aware until the systems crumble. Adrian wake up the frog is boiled!

In fairness the current government has inherited a huge debt from the previous incumbents, however reducing the opportunities of already marginalised groups, just to save on a money, is not the solution.

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above 

HEATHER CLEMENT has calculated it will cost up to $4200 more to send her son, Ben, to the preschool at Darlington Public School than to keep him at the day-care centre next door.

She wanted to move him to the preschool next year to prepare him for kindergarten but has been forced to reconsider since the state government introduced fees this year of up to $40 a day for public preschools.

”You don’t get the 50 per cent rebate that you do on day care,” Ms Clement said, adding it was ”crazy” that public preschool cost more than private childcare.

The state government operates 100 preschools within NSW public schools. Indigenous and disadvantaged families pay lower fees, or have them waived altogether, but many middle-income families are struggling with the rise in fees – especially as the preschool fees are not offset by government childcare benefits and rebates.
Preschools that once had waiting lists are now reporting vacancies. At inner-city Darlington, numbers have fallen by a third since last year…….The NSW Teachers Federation is surveying principals and public preschool teachers on the impact of the fees. Early feedback indicated ”some parents may not even be seeking places in preschools due to the fees”, said the federation’s senior vice-president, Joan Lemaire.

”Prior to the introduction of fees, the majority of preschools had long waiting lists of students,” she said. ”Many now report a significant drop in the numbers of families waiting for a place. Some schools that previously had waiting lists now have vacancies.”

While principals can grant fee relief or exemption, schools reported that some parents were unwilling to discuss their financial circumstances with them.

”There’s a fear … that parents of children who may need the support of the preschool classes are not even applying,” Ms Lemaire said. ”They just withdraw from the process.”

An Education Department spokesman said 2012 enrolment numbers were similar to those from last year. Each preschool’s fees were in line with those charged by community preschools in the same area, he said. Nine preschools in the least disadvantaged communities charged $40 a day while 27 charged less than $5 a day.

”Preschools in our public schools were put in place to ensure that the most disadvantaged families are able to access preschool for their children,” said the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli. ”We want to ensure that this remains the case.”

Tess Michaels