ARARAT North Primary School is now in the enviable position of being able to offer modern up-to-date facilities which cater for children from birth through to the age of 12 all under the one roof.
This follows the official opening of a $250,000 upgrade to kindergarten facilities at the school by Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell.
Ms Lovell was joined by Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien, Liberal candidate for Ripon Louise Staley, The Nationals candidate for Ripon Scott Turner and local families to formally open the new playroom last Thursday.
The expansion has allowed Ararat North Kinder Care to grow its three-year-old kindergarten program to cater for up to 24 children.
"The room is bright and sunny with amazing staff who provide a caring program for the children who also attend Occasional Care sessions," principal Wendy Byrne said.
"Fifty-six families make use of this facility weekly. The children range in age from six months to four years old and all staff are fully qualified."
Mrs Byrne said the facility can now accommodate 15 hours a week of four year old kindergarten, five days of occasional care and 10 hours of three year old kindergarten.
"The program that they offer here is stimulating, it is rewarding for the children, it ensures a seamless transition through to kinder and then school," she said.
Ms Lovell agreed that Ararat North Primary School is now well placed to offer more than one tier of education in the one location.
"Co located kinder and primary school sites produce the best outcomes, not only for families but also the children and their education," she said.
"Most importantly, it addresses one of the areas where children suffer most in their education and that is through transition."
Ms Lovell said the upgrade was an important milestone for the Ararat community and that bringing children's services and schools together made sense for families.
"This is not only more convenient, it allows any learning and development problems to be identified and addressed early, while facilitating children's movement into school," she said.
"It's never too early to engage children in learning. Now that this kindergarten can provide three-year old kinder, more children will benefit from a great start to their education on the same site as the local primary school."
Mrs Byrne said a key component of the project was to engage with local building professionals to deliver it.
"We sat on the money until we could engage local tradesmen and I would like to acknowledge the work that Max Perovich and Andrew Eastick put in, it was a seamless, joyful experience," she said.
"Mr Perovich designed the building extension and Mr Eastick managed and constructed the building during three months last year.
"It was fantastic working with such professional people and to be able to support local industry."
Ms Lovell said a further 10 Victorian schools recently received Victorian Coalition Government funding to enable them to follow Ararat's example and build new early years centres on site.
"I am delighted that more families in more communities will now benefit from having high-quality children's centres at their local school," she said.
The Napthine Government's $250,000 investment in this upgrade is part of the Victorian Coalition Government's investment of more than $120 million in building and upgrading children's centres since December 2010.
The Victorian Government has invested an additional $283.1 million in children's services since 2010, including $32 million in the 2014-15 State Budget.