After a hectic 2018 campaigning against proposed education funding changes, including the decision to close Moora Residential College and increase enrolment thresholds for community kindergartens, Bullsbrook resident Jo Matthewson has been elected to the position of President of the Community Kindergarten Association (CKA). The Community Kindergarten Association supports parents and parent management committees of the 17 community kindies in WA in their day-to-day operation and represents them in the wider community.
“I was nominated at the AGM and with the work I did last year in regards to community kindergartens it was deemed I’d be appropriate to take on that role,” said Jo.
Jo is passionate about improving early childhood education and hopes to use her position as CKA president to increase awareness of community kindergartens across the state, and to strengthen relationships between community kindies and their link schools.
“It’s one of the first things I’d like to tackle. Looking at how important community kindergartens are to the link school, to the community, and for students. How can we best utilise them, because the facilities are amazing,” she said.
One of the options to be investigated is running 3-year old or pre-kindy programs in the kindergarten centres that have the space and available staff to help give kids a head start on their educational experience. The idea of education department-funded 3-year old programs has gained attention in recent weeks, with the Labor government proposing up to 15 hours per week of subsidised education for 3-year olds if they are successful in the upcoming federal election.
“I think one of the biggest issues that came out last year was that the education curriculum nationally is just heaving, and more is put into it every year. If they’re not going to change the curriculum, then we need to prep the kids better,” said Jo.
“Early childhood is the key and we have these amazing community kindies that have just been left to dwindle. The threshold changes last year highlighted the importance of community kindies, so where do we go from here? I just want to go forward in a positive way,” she said.
Jo admits to being unsure of how exactly to navigate the political side of education when she suddenly found herself in the centre of a campaign to save these facilities, including addressing a protest from the steps of parliament house.
“I’ve probably upset people, perhaps not done things with the right processes, but I did it out of love. I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve learnt how to harness my passion,” she said. “It was never about me, it was about the kids, the teachers, and the community.”