An even better start? : parent conceptions of the preparatory year in a non-government school in Queensland

O'Gorman, Lyndal May (2007) An even better start? : parent conceptions of the preparatory year in a non-government school in Queensland. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The introduction of a universal, full-time Preparatory Year in all Queensland schools from 2007 is a significant reform in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in that state. Rapidly increasing enrolment of children in full-time Preparatory Year programs in non-government schools has been a feature of the Queensland context over the past decade. These trends, along with efforts towards consistency of services and universal school starting ages across Australian states and territories have prompted this important reform to early education in Queensland. Constructions of the role of parents as consumers of early childhood services and/or partners in their children's early education suggest that consideration of parent views of this reform is both timely and strategic. This thesis reports the findings of a research project investigating parent conceptions of a Preparatory Year in a non-government school in outer urban Queensland. The research used a phenomenographic approach to elicit and describe the qualitatively different ways in which a group of 26 parents viewed the Preparatory Year. Analysis revealed that the range of parent conceptions of the Preparatory Year demonstrated varying emphasis on parent needs, child needs and preparation for future success in school and beyond. The study led to the construction of five categories of description outlining five different ways of understanding the Preparatory Year. The Preparatory Year was viewed in relation to (1) the current needs of the parents, (2) the current needs of the child, (3) preparation for Year One, (4) providing an advantage in primary school, and (5) preparation for future success beyond school. These five categories were linked and differentiated from each other by two central themes, or dimensions of variation: (1) a beneficiary dimension in which either the parent or the child were seen to benefit from the program, and (2) a temporal dimension in which the program was viewed in relation to meeting current needs or preparing for the future. The results of the study suggest that variation exists in the ways that parents may conceptualise the phenomenon of the Preparatory Year in Queensland. Analysis of the data further suggests that tensions exist around whether the Preparatory Year ought to emphasise preparation for the future and/or meet current needs of children; and whether those programs should meet the needs of the parent and/or the needs of the child. This thesis opens up the possibility of future tensions, with the potential for parent preferences for a formal interpretation of the Preparatory Year curriculum being at odds with the new play-based Early Years Curriculum Guidelines. Results of the study suggest that more attention be given to engaging parents and eliciting their views of the early childhood programs experienced by their children. Moreover, it provides an approach for ways in which parent views might be generated, analysed and incorporated into future policy developments and reforms.

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ID Code: 16649
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: early childhood education and care (ECEC), preparatory year, parents, views, Queensland, Australia, phenomenography, conceptions
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Lyndal May O'Gorman
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:07
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2012 00:17

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