Research shows that two years of quality preschool sets a child up for success, and happily the issue is gaining traction with politicians Dr Jen Jackson from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy said.
At the heart of improving quality are the almost 200,000 educators who work in Australian early childhood services. Extending preschool to two years places increased pressure on the supply of highly-skilled early childhood educators. In response, both Victoria and NSW have committed to reducing tuition fees for students studying early childhood education. Professional development for existing educators is also among the major workforce development challenges across Australia. We need a consistent national workforce strategy to see these types of solutions adopted across all states.
Education Policy Lead Jackson said despite progress in early childhood reforms, Australia still does not provide an adequate dose of quality preschool to all children, with most children attending only one year of preschool and the quality of education and care varying across the country.
“One in five Australian children are not developmentally on track when they start school, with a widening gap between the most and least advantaged communities. Australia cannot afford to have that gap widen further,” Jackson said.
“This election is a chance to focus attention back onto the benefits of early learning,” she said. “Part of that commitment needs to be secure, ongoing funding, including for quality improvements, as we have for schools. We’re certainly not at that point yet, but as we head into a federal election campaign, early childhood issues are making some headway on the election agenda.
“A wealth of international research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool programs not only perform better in learning, but also on skills like social competence, vocabulary, and self-control—and that the benefits are greatest for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Leading economists have also shown that investing in early learning and development has much greater return-on-investment than addressing issues later in life.
“The research shows that two or three years of quality preschool can place children nearly eight months ahead in their literacy at entry to school, compared to children with no preschool. Even at age 16, more months spent in preschool has been shown to be associated with higher grades in English, mathematics, and higher examination grades.”
More time in preschool is not about an earlier start to formal learning. High-quality preschools offer play-based experiences that build on children’s interests, and provide opportunities for them to develop skills like cooperation, concentration, problem-solving, and self-control. These skills then set them up for the more structured learning environments that they will encounter when they reach school.
Some Australian governments are acting on this evidence. Victoria, NSW and the ACT have all committed to subsidising universal access to three-year-old preschool, coming into effect over the next decade. Interestingly, these policies have been introduced by both Labor and Liberal Governments, indicating clear potential for cross-partisan support for two years of preschool.
Leading up to the 2019 election campaign, the Australian Labor Party has pledged $1.75 billion to provide federal support for two years of preschool. The Coalition Government has not committed to three-year-old preschool, but has pledged another year of funding to four-year old preschool.
Teachers, school leaders and the entire education sector can have their say in the 2019 Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Survey which is open now. Read More
NIDA continues to invest in the creative practice of early career teachers in primary and secondary schools with the 2019 Creative Ambassador’s Initiative.
Downloaded more than 17,000 times, the AITSL My Induction app offers expert advice, answers to frequently asked questions and allows new teachers to track their professional wellbeing. Read More
The number of people seeking help from homelessness services due to domestic and family violence has risen in recent years but only 4% of those who approached a homelessness service for long-term housing actually received it. Read More
Jack Cambouris is one chap who know where he’s going, after completing a TAFE accountancy course while still a HSC student he has now secured himself a cadetship at a prestigious accountancy firm while completing his degree. Read More