In 1891, about forty female teachers from Brisbane and suburbs gathered at the Central State School in Adelaide Street, under the guidance of Miss Mary Ann Agnew, the newly appointed Instructress in Kindergarten for the Department of Public Instruction, and commenced the first Queensland movement for early childhood education.
The curriculum was shaped in the pedagogy of Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852). In 1907 an association was formed to establish day nurseries and free kindergarten schools for the children of the poor, train kindergarten teachers, and generally to promote interest in kindergarten work and by 1911 became known as the Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland. It was heavily subsidised by the State and its lead members became part of the Department’s policy development work across state schools and the smaller number of community kindergartens. In 1920, 99 schools were on the approved list of the kindergarten method, and five years later this number had grown to 127, including the 'Special schools for Backward Children' established in 1923. A significant policy change came in 1936 when it was decided to supply kindergarten equipment to one teacher schools in cases where the teachers had undergone training in kindergarten as part of their courses at the Teachers Training College.
By 1937 the Association was state subsidies and community fundraising was grossly insufficient to the budget, and a public debate of largely inaction was developing as to whether the Government should take over responsibility for its work. In August 1943, by agreement with the Creche and Kindergarten Association, the Association's kindergartens were handed over to a Pre-School Co-ordinating Committee with equal representation from the Government and the Association. As part of this co-operative scheme, the State Agreed to assist in the reopening of the Kindergarten Teachers College, which had closed in 1942. In turn, the Committee was to act not only as a supervisory body for the kindergartens, but as an advisory body for the Government in creating a system of State preschool education. The policy adopted in 1942 of direct State involvement in preschool education was not implemented until 1972 when additional Commonwealth funds became available. The Commonwealth had first become involved with the establishment of the first Lady Gowrie Centres financed by the Commonwealth Government in 1939.
In 1972 the policy provided for free, non-compulsory preschool education for all 4- to 5-year-old children. The first three State preschool centres were opened in January 1973. Over the next seven years, a massive building program was undertaken, such that in mid-1980 there were 357 preschool centres in Queensland. During the 1970s additional early education programs were added, such as the Preschool Correspondence Program, the SPAN playgroup, and the Class 4 Schools Project.
Geographic Description 1: Inside The Green Belt
Geographic Description 2: Brisbane River
Geographic Description 3: Flood Plains; Flood Gullies; Hills
Entry extracted from Queensland Department of Education document, Early Childhood Education, undated.