Mitchell Institute research supports the value of two years of early childhood education

by Freya Lucas

October 04

The Mitchell Institute’s Director, Megan O’Connell, has outlined the connection between the provision of two years of quality preschool programs and the meeting of critical educational milestones, as outlined in its report Preschool –Two years are better than one.

 

Ms O’Connell’s comments follow a funding proposal outlined by opposition leader Bill Shorten.

 

Ms O’Connell stated “Although it has taken a little longer for Australia to heed the evidence that early education is every bit as important as school, it is promising that we have an opportunity to bring Australian early learning closer in line with international standards.”

 

“Each year around 60,000 Australian children – one in five – start school behind, and nearly half of these children starting behind stay behind. This puts a strain on teachers and students at school, can lead to behavioural problems and cause social and health issues later in life.” Ms O’Connell said.

 

Ms O’Connell identified some of the ‘flow on’ benefits of a quality preschool program, such as increased school attendance for disadvantaged learners, and improved reading and communication skills.

 

“Extending preschool into a second year is a minor cost compared to the almost half a billion dollars spent each year on supporting 24 year olds who fail to make their way into education or employment.

 

“Each year thousands of young people are disengaged from training and work because they struggled throughout the education system, and Australian communities are left paying billions to our welfare, justice and health systems to support them throughout their lives.

 

“Specially designed preschool programs for three and four year olds can give children the head-start they need to engage with learning when they’re at school and discover where they can excel.” Ms O’Connell said.

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