I was just wondering the differences between Play Groups, and the normal schools here.
What I have seen (so far) is that Student Teachers do not have access to parents during their practicals. In part, the parents also do not come in contact with these Student Teachers, I realize, due to the structure of the hierarchy in the system. Student teachers also have to refer to the main classroom teacher in all incidents. I came to be aware of that, as during the assessment of one of my courses, MOST and practically all the student teachers said that they do not come in contact with the parents, but the main class teacher does.
Play Group is the only place (I have seen so far) where the parents actually came (or talked to me). This is because parents have to be there for the entire duration of the playgroup time, and at normal schools, parents just drop their children off and go off straight to work. Parents who come to play groups are also mostly non-working, and mostly full time professional homemakers.
Human nature also dictates that (apart from the hierarchy), parents anywhere almost always refer to the main class teacher when she is present. However if the latter is away, then they will look for the next one in the ladder, which is the assistant, or the teacher aide, if there is a supply teacher, as she is the next one who knows the children best in the classroom. This principle applies not only in the classroom, but in any situation as well. In a nutshell, you can pretty much get the gist of the point I am trying to make here.
Anyway, a new ruling in Australia has come to pass which states that Single Mothers have to go back to work once their youngest child turns 5 years old, or their benefits, or the Allowance they receive will be reduced (or something of that sort).
I do not think that it would affect mothers in a playgroup, as most of the mothers who take the option of sending children there are by choice, and their circumstances allow them to do so, say, compared to one whose child is going to the normal school (which also starts at 4 years), and these mothers would mostly be financially stable to not need the financial assistance.