Sessional kinder to remain free in Term Four as restrictions look to ease
Sessional kinder will remain free for the majority of families in Term Four, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino announced yesterday.
Along with the free kinder announcement, Mr Merlino and Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said that an additional $26.7 million in funding will be directed to supporting early childhood services as they reopen to all Victorian children on 5 October.
Under the Victorian Government’s roadmap to reopening, childcare services will be open for all children from 28 September and sessional kindergarten services will be open from 5 October for all children’s attendance on-site, with appropriate risk mitigation measures in place.
Community-based, local government and school providers who offer sessional programs will be eligible for around $500 per enrolment to give children access to a free 15 hour program each week, and vulnerable children will be further supported with up to five extra hours per week of kinder to help them catch up on missed or disrupted learning before starting school.
“We know that starting school is a huge milestone. Victorian families can rest assured our dedicated early childhood and school teachers are working together to support Victorian children transition from kinder to prep” The Premier said.
Teachers will be given extra funded hours to visit with kinders, meet children, and help them to feel ready for the transition to school, a process which has been disrupted in 2020 because of COVID restrictions.
Additional professional learning, tailored to early childhood and school staff, as well as “best practice” tools for Prep teachers will be shared, to support play-based and differentiated learning for children at the start of 2021, accounting for the disruption of learning taking place in 2020.
Priority was given in yesterday’s announcement to outlining outreach supports which will be set up to re-engage children from Aboriginal and cultural and linguistically diverse communities with their learning, and kindergarten teachers will be provided additional hours to liaise with schools to support children with disabilities in their transition next year.
As well as the funding outlined, services will be able to access more educator and teacher hours and allied health services through the Victorian Government’s $160 million School Readiness Funding initiative to support children make a positive start to school. Grants will be made available to those services not yet receiving this funding.
“This has been a tough year for all of us – including some of our littlest Victorians. We’ll give some extra help to families and childhood services as our kinder kids return on-site and we take careful steps towards COVID Normal” Premier Andrews said.