Australian first: Tasmania launches pilot program for three-year-old early learning
The Tasmanian Government has launched a pilot program to provide two years of free early learning for three year old’s from the state’s low income and disadvantaged families, in an Australian first.
Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff launched the pilot at Goodstart Early Learning’s Claremont centre, and said that two Goodstart centres will be included in the Working Together for 3 Year Olds pilot. Lady Gowrie Tasmania centres will also be participating in the pilot program, in addition to two independent centres in the north west of the state.
“Investing in early years education can set ourselves up for the brightest future possible, particularly those who are vulnerable,” Mr Rockliff told the Tasmanian Examiner.
According to the local newspaper, approximately 50 children will participate in the pilot program across Tasmania, with programs being run in Launceston, Davenport, Glenorchy, Kingborough and the Derwent Valley.
The Tasmanian Examiner said that the pilot program was designed after the state government failed to legislate changes to bring the school starting age down to 4.5 years following criticism from the early childhood education and care sector.
Goodstart Advocacy Manager John Cherry said Goodstart was excited to be part of the pilot and looked forward to the full rollout of the program in 2020.
“Tasmania is leading the nation in not just funding free early learning, but also funding initiatives to reach out to families not currently sending their children to early learning,” Mr Cherry said.
“This focus on family engagement as well as the quality and resources needed to run a good early learning program at a state-wide scale is a first in Australia.
“It offers valuable lessons for the rest of the country as Australia moves towards giving all children two years of access.
“The research shows that children who attend preschool perform much better at school, and that two years of early learning almost doubles that benefit.
“The children who benefit most are the children least likely to attend, which is why this program is so timely.
“Currently just 46 per cent of three-year olds attend early learning in Tasmania, the lowest of any state.
“The Working Together for 3 Year Olds program will offer 10.5 hours a week of free early learning to children who are Indigenous, known to child protection or whose family are eligible for a Health Concession Card. That is around 40 per cent of Tasmanian three-year-olds whose families will be able to afford to attend early learning from next year,” he said.
Mr Cherry said the three-year-old programs in Goodstart centres would be delivered by university-trained early childhood teachers applying Goodstart’s recently released best practice guide for 3-5-year-old programs in centres that have participated in additional training on family partnerships.
“Two years of quality early learning give children the best possible start to learning and life and that is what Goodstart is determined to deliver,” Mr Cherry said.
Early learning initiatives steering committee established
Following an expression of interest process advertised in January 2019, the Tasmanian Department of Education has announced an Early Learning Initiatives Steering Committee (ELISC) to provide guidance and oversight into the design and development of the state’s early learning initiatives.
The ELISC will provide strategic guidance to the Working Together for 3 Year Olds program as well as the state’s Strong Partnerships between the Early Childhood Education and Care services and the Department of Education and six Early Learning Hubs.
The Committee is made up of nine voluntary members with a diverse mix of skills and expertise across a range of relevant fields, and is chaired by the Secretary, DoE. The members are:
- Paul Prichard, Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria
- Di Nailon, Educational Leader Consultant/University of Tasmania Lecturer
- Kathryn Fordyce, St Giles
- Bronwyn Tamplin, Goodstart Early Learning Tasmania
- Ros Cornish, Lady Gowrie Tasmania
- Jacinda Armstrong, Playgroup Tasmania
- Mary Anne Warner, Early Childhood Intervention Service, Department of Education
- Danielle Le Rossignol, Department of Education
- Lynne Moran, Blackmans Bay Children’s Services.
The first meeting of the Committee will be held on 27 March 2019.