The Tasmanian Government has backflipped on its proposal to lower the school starting age to 4.5 years and will no longer be lowering the voluntary school starting age. The decision was in response to EMRS polling, which found 76 per cent of the 1000 Tasmanians surveyed opposed the proposal.
Instead, commencing in 2020, it will provide earlier access to play based learning, through the Working Together for three-year-olds targeted pre-school initiative, which will provide the opportunity of an additional year of pre-school to Tasmanian children who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.
This will be offered in partnership with the Early Childhood Education and Care sector (ECEC) and will provide free access to quality pre-school programs for eligible children.
The Government will fund access to 10 hours a week (400 hours a year) through an accredited service primarily in the ECEC sector, or in a school in some specific circumstances. Kindergartens will be assessed against the National Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education and Care, and will fund associated infrastructure requirements.
"The implementation report, including analysis by KPMG and based on comprehensive consultation with the ECEC sector recommends this alternative approach," said Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff.
Labor education spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne said the announcement had been a “woefully misguided experiment”.
The Tasmanian branch of Early Childhood Australia welcomed the decision.