ECEC to be bundled with sport and health in Mitchell Institute overhaul
Education research hub The Mitchell Institute, will cease operations in its current form at the end of 2018, with the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reporting that all staff bar one will no longer have roles in the new model, or positions at Victoria University.
The Mitchell Institute is well know in early childhood education and care (ECEC) circles for their advocacy of quality, and their high calibre reports, calling for Universal Access and an increased focus on the quality of qualifications in the ECEC sector.
Victoria University will establish a new body which focuses on education and health across two existing research institutes, the Centre for International Research on Education Systems (CIRES) and Institute for Health & Sport (IHES).
Megan O’Connell, Director of the Institute, said the team there had been instrumental in shaping Australia’s education landscape
“I came with a vision that we need to even up the odds for the 60,000 children who start school behind their peers every year.”
“The work (of the institute) has played a pivotal role in ensuring early childhood education is embedded firmly in Australia’s education system.” Ms O’Connell said.
“As the only independent think tank tackling challenges across the entire education spectrum – from toddlers to tertiary graduates – (the) Institute has achieved significant policy impacts to improve outcomes for children and young people.”
Ms O’Connell was particularly proud of the work done by the Institute to raise the profile of ECEC, saying, “When I commenced at Mitchell three years ago, early childhood education was viewed by the government primarily as childcare. I came with a vision that we need to even up the odds for the 60,000 children who start school behind their peers every year.”
“I can proudly say early learning is now a key education issue, with parents, the wider public and politicians recognising that it can change the course of children’s lives.”
Showcasing the value of the work done by educators in the ECEC sector, Ms O’Connell said the biggest achievement of the Institute was the overarching recognition of the importance of early learning, with many governments across the country signalling intentions to provide two years of preschool as a result of their work, described as a policy which has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
Whilst there were many policy achievements to celebrate, Ms O’Connell pointed out there is more work to do to ensure Australia’s education system delivers in a fair and equitable way, saying, “We need to continue our focus on equity across the education system. The educational opportunities that children can access varies tremendously depending on their parent’s capacity to pay, and this chasm commences in early childhood.”
Victoria University will release further updates on the new model in the new year, with the AFR reporting the institute will close on 21 December 21 2018.