Caring for early learning

We are pleased to announce the merger of the Canberra Preschool Society with Council, giving us — together — a renewed focus on early childhood education, and greater resources to support and advocate for parents of Canberra’s youngest kids.

In a move reflecting the trend of Preschool Parent Associations becoming sub-committees of their local primary school P&C, the Canberra Preschool Society (CPS) merged with P&C Council in July  this year. This is an opportunity for each organisation to leverage off the other’s resources, networks and expertise to strengthen the voice of parents of preschool children in the ACT, while also making the most effective use of ACT Government funding to support the Directorate’s vision for early years learning.CPS

The functions and services of CPS have been absorbed by Council and are being executed by a newly-formed Early Learning Committee. The Early Learning Committee will provide a targeted approach to support parents to have an active role in their child’s learning at home and at school from an early age. The merger means we can add more value to what we do while working to ensure we maintain the clear and independent voice for the concerns of preschools and preschool families that CPS has developed over the years.

Early Years Learning is a focus for the ACT Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Yvette Berry MLA. Our Early Learning Committee will provide a forum for families whose children are attending, or about to attend, a playschool or preschool in the ACT. It will provide information, training and support services through the Council office to all preschool and early childhood members of Council.

Our Early Learning Officer

Our new Early Learning Officer will focus on advocacy for members and promotion of preschool and early years learning within the community. Many of the administrative duties that have previously been undertaken by the CPS Executive Officer will be absorbed by existing Council staff. This will enable the Early Learning Officer to focus on supporting Preschool Parent Associations, Playschool Committees and parents of early learners generally. We are still in the early stages of recruiting our Early Learning Officer but, supported by the new Early Learning Committee, the new person will:

  • listen to and address the needs of our preschool and playschool members
  • advocate on behalf of our preschool and playschool members
  • work towards making the Early Learning Committee a central information hub for early education information and resources
  • encourage preschool enrolment across the ACT
  • promote preschool participation through Child and Family Centres and at community and family events
  • promote the early education options through Playgroups ACT for kids from birth to five years, as many people new to Canberra don’t know what services are available
  • support preschools to apply for grants.

CPS – a proud history

We are very proud of the role that the CPS has played in early learning in the ACT and look forward to that story continuing as part of Council.

The Canberra Preschool Society (CPS) has been one of Canberra’s oldest and most successful community organisations. Since 1943, CPS substantially influenced and shaped the provision of preschool education in the ACT, establishing and nurturing many preschools in the region. CPS has partnered with members to support the preschool education of more than 110,000 children in the ACT.

CPS has assisted Preschool Parent Associations  and Playschool Committees in their roles and responsibilities as committee members. As preschool is the year before compulsory schooling, a large proportion of our parent members are new to the operational processes in and around ACT government schools. The Canberra Preschool Society has always offered an opportunity for these parents to share concerns, network, and be informed on matters relating to preschools within the ACT.

The CPS was founded in 1943 as the Canberra Nursery Kindergarten Association. This group of women began lobbying and fundraising to provide preschool education in their community. A year later, the first of Canberra’s ‘Nursery Kindergartens’ (preschools) opened in Acton. A Parents and Friends Association was formed to help run the school.

The Association soon realised that this one centre could not cater for Canberra’s rapidly growing population and there was significant community interest in extending the benefit of the Nursery School into every district. After many fundraising bridge parties, a further seven preschools opened over the next seven years.

The role of the CPS grew quickly too and by the 1950s they were providing support to Preschool Parent Associations in the same way that they have done right up to today.

There is more about the history of the CPS to read and enjoy which you can find via the new Early Learning tab on our website.

Getting involved

You can be part of future activities by joining our Early Learning Committee. Come along to the committee's first meeting on September 12.●


This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 3, 2018.