Review of the Tasmanian Education Act

Introduction of the Education Bill 2016 to Parliament

The Education Bill 2016 will be introduced in Parliament in the 2016 spring session.

The Education Bill 2016 takes account of extensive consultation on the draft Education Bill (draft Bill), undertaken from March to May 2016.

More than 200 people participated in Information Sessions on the draft Bill and the Department of Education received over 300 written responses to the draft Bill and 21 responses to the accompanying Regulatory Impact Statement.

School Starting Age

On 18 August 2016 the Minister for Education and Training announced a change to the proposed reforms under the forthcoming Education Bill 2016 in regards to the school starting age.

The Education Bill 2016 will establish:
  • A minimum school start age of 4 years and 6 months, and
  • A compulsory school start age of 5 years (as per the current arrangements).
Children will be eligible to attend kindergarten from 3 years and 6 months in the year immediately before they start Prep.

This change will mean that all children will have access to quality early learning sooner than they do now.

Parents may choose to enrol their child in school at the new minimum school start age of 4 years and 6 months or to stay with the current arrangement of school enrolment by 5 years of age.

The change will still take effect in 2021, therefore children born in the first half of 2016 will be eligible for kindergarten in 2020.

Release of the draft Education Bill 2016

On 14 March 2016 the Tasmanian Government released the draft Bill.

Links to the original information on the release of the draft Bill can be found here.

The draft Bill was the result of extensive consultation and a review of current research, practices across other jurisdictions and the Tasmanian context under the Review of the Education Act.

The draft Bill represented the Government’s position on how legislation should change to best support the Tasmanian education system.

The draft Bill aimed to provide a contemporary, flexible and enduring legislative framework to meet the needs of learners now and into the future.

Detail on earlier phases of consultation under the Education Act Review can be found here.

Evidence shows that that quality early learning experiences improve outcomes later in life, particularly for children from disadvantages backgrounds. Evident also show that the longer children stay in school the better opportunities they have in life.

Tasmania has the highest levels of disadvantage in Australia (ABS, 2015) and many children do not have access to early learning. In 2014, 58.4 per cent of children aged three years participated in Australian Government Child Care Benefit Approved Childcare (Report on Government Services, 2015).

Proposed changes to the school starting and leaving age would increase access to high quality learning and development experiences for Tasmanian children from an earlier age and would ensure that more young Tasmanians complete Year 12 or equivalent before they reach 18.

The draft Bill establishes higher standards for education in Tasmania, reflecting the expectations and aspirations of the Tasmanian community that all young people should complete at least year 12 or equivalent.