As part of the social justice emphasis on equity of state governments and education departments in Australia, an interest in cultural diversity emerged during the 1990s in Queensland state schools. Current educational policy in Queensland has attempted to cater for children from all social groups, valuing all children’s cultural and linguistic resources. A ‘difference theory’ has attempted to move explanations for some children’s low levels of readiness for school, and their consequent lack of success at school, away from the child and the child’s family to an increasing emphasis on schools and the wider community to prepare children for school. Assessment of school readiness at a community level focuses on monitoring children’s progress so that community resources, both human and material, might be mobilised and directed to where they are most needed. Although children are evaluated, the focus for evaluation is not on individual children or their parents. The focus for evaluation shifts to community and government policies and programs to ensure that they are doing their best to support young children’s development and readiness for school. In Australia, the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) which is based on the Early Development Instrument (EDI) devised in Canada, is being developed as a community measure of young children’s development. During children’s first year of formal school, teachers use the AEDI checklist which measures five areas of development which include physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge. The aim of the AEDI is to provide communities with a holistic picture of children’s well-being without labelling individual children or their families and to use it as a tool from which community programs and resources can be developed and monitored to achieve better outcomes for children.
|Keywords:||Social Justice, Cultural Diversity, School Readiness, Communities|
Adjunct Lecturer/Research Fellow, School of Education, James Cook University, Australia
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