Gold star for Bega Preschool

Bega Preschool staff (from left) Wendy-Rose Leser, Madi Cuzner, Sue Barnes, Steph Dummett, Kerrin Sheard, director Anne-Maree Carroll, Annastasia Norris, Annie Gravestein, Linda Parbery, and (seated, partly obscured) Eve Hofsetter (Certificate three in children’s services TAFE work placement) with some of the 40 children who attend Bega Preschool.

Bega Preschool staff (from left) Wendy-Rose Leser, Madi Cuzner, Sue Barnes, Steph Dummett, Kerrin Sheard, director Anne-Maree Carroll, Annastasia Norris, Annie Gravestein, Linda Parbery, and (seated, partly obscured) Eve Hofsetter (Certificate three in children’s services TAFE work placement) with some of the 40 children who attend Bega Preschool.

Bega Preschool’s highly regarded service in early childhood education has been officially recognised with the centre receiving an “exceeding national standard” rating.

It is one of four preschools in the valley to achieve such a top rating following assessment visits this year by the Department of Education and Communities.

Preschools were assessed using the national quality standard, comprising of educational program and practice; children’s health and safety; physical environment, staffing arrangement; relationships with children; collaborative partnerships with families and communities; and leadership and service management.

Bega Preschool director, Anne-Maree Carroll, said this rating is just reward for the caring and dedicated preschool staff who come to work each day knowing the importance of early childhood education and that they are making a difference to the lives of each and every child who walks through the preschool doors.

“We are very proud to be part of local community early childhood centre services that offer a high level of education to the community.”

There are 40 children per day at the centre, from between three and five years of age.

Renovations to the preschool two years ago have allowed for an increase in enrolments through the use of two rooms, providing more families with this early childhood education option.

“Pleasingly we have been able to fill all the available places and we also have children on a waiting list,” Ms Carroll said.

“One room operates five days a week, along with a second room four days a week.

Ms Carroll said the 14 staff are a strong team and their dedicated, enthusiasm is matched by the high quality facilities available.

“Every one loves being here and supports each other and this is reflected in the way the staff are with the children and with one another which the assessor could see during the visit,” Ms Carroll said.

Preschool teacher Annie Gravestein is grateful for the privilege of being an early childhood educator.

“The quality of our preschool comes from the fact we all love being with the children.

“Everyday so much learning happens within this preschool; it’s so exciting to be a part of it and every day is so different…in a great way,” she said.

There is outstanding quality in preschools in the Bega Valley with Tathra, Little Yuin and Bermagui preschools also recently achieving the exceeding national standard rating.

Ms Carroll said all the preschools in the Bega Valley work together, share information and resources and consider themselves as a community of preschools.

Despite achieving such a high quality national rating, Ms Carroll said preschool funding still needs addressing.

“Bega Preschool is a not-for-profit community preschool,” she added. 

“Our management committee is made up of volunteers - parents of children who attend the preschool - and any profit from fundraising goes directly back to the preschool.” 

“Many volunteer hours contribute to the running of preschools, and we rely on huge amounts of volunteer hours and fundraising which can be challenging when faced with funding fluctuations and insecurity.

“Preschool funding should be a government priority,” Ms Carroll said.

“We commend the government for increasing funding for four-year-olds, however under the current funding formula there will only be limited funding for three-year-olds.”

She said increased funding is required to ensure fees are affordable for all four-year-olds; children with additional needs are supported; preschools are able to recruit and retain university-trained early childhood teachers ; and provide places for the enrolment of three-year-olds.

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