In Western Australia (WA), 'Kindergarten' is the term used for the educational programs provided to children in the year before full-time schooling (i.e. Year 1 minus 2 years) which is referred to within this manual as 'preschool'. 'Pre-primary' is the term used for a child's first year of full-time school (i.e. pre-Year 1 year). Children in WA are eligible to enrol in a preschool program at the beginning of the year if they are 4 years old on or prior to 30 June of the same year. The provision of preschool education is generally integrated with school education in WA.
Preschool is provided in nearly all schools which cater for WA primary school aged children. Preschool is provided in both the government and non-government sectors, and in a small number of community and independent preschools.
LEGISLATION AND LICENSING
Under WA legislation, the School Education Act 1999 (WA), a program is only recognised as a preschool program if it is provided within a school setting. Therefore preschool programs provided in LDC settings or those not being provided under the School Education Act are not officially recognised as preschool in WA.
All early childhood education teachers are required to be registered by the WA College of Teaching (WACOT) and are required to hold a qualification deemed suitable by WACOT. If an early childhood education teacher has no qualifications, they are required to indicate if they are currently working towards an ECEC qualification and the number of years’ experience they have teaching in a preschool setting. LDCs are not required to employ teachers who are members of WACOT.
Service providers in WA that offer a preschool program as their main type of activity have the following management arrangements.
Government managed preschool programs are provided in all public schools which cater for primary school aged children. Government preschools in WA are funded by the WA Department of Education (WA DoE) and are operated from public schools and independent public schools. These preschools are operated under the School Education Act, as well as the School Education Regulations 2000.
WA also regards community-based preschools as government managed preschools. Community-based preschools are registered by the Minister of Education and are staffed, funded and quality assured by the public education system. Parent management committees are responsible for financial management and daily operations in these preschools. Community-based preschools which have been registered under the School Education Act are bound by the conditions of this Act, as well as the School Education Regulations.
Independent schools: Independent schools are registered by the Minister under the School Education Act and their programs are quality assured by the WA Department of Education Services (WA DES). All independent schools with preschool programs receive a per capita grant from WA DES for age-eligible children enrolled at the school. Independent schools operate under the School Education Act, as well as the School Education Regulations.
Catholic schools: Catholic schools are registered by the Minister under the School Education Act. Through a formal agreement with WA DES, their programs are quality assured by the Catholic Education Office of WA. All Catholic schools with preschool programs receive a per capita grant from WA DES for age-eligible children enrolled at the school. Catholic preschools operate under the School Education Act, as well as the School Education Regulations.
Long Day Care
Service providers in WA that offer a LDC as their main type of activity and may also offer and deliver a preschool program have the following management arrangements.
Long Day Care with a Preschool Program
Private for-profit: Preschool programs provided in LDC settings are not officially recognised in WA as preschool, unless the LDC provider is also registered as a school. In this situation, the LDC would be included in the non-government school category. Only incorporated non-profit entities can be registered as a school. Non-school preschool programs in LDCs do not therefore receive funding from WA DES. Education regulations and quality assurance mechanisms that apply to schools do not apply to preschool programs in LDCs. In particular, LDCs are not required to implement the WA K-12 Curriculum Framework and are not required to employ teachers who are members of the WACOT. LDCs are bound by the Childcare Service Act 2007 (WA), the Children's Services (Childcare) Regulations 2006 and the Childcare Services Regulations 2007.