Chifley report calls for new approach to early childhood education in Australia
A call to increase the certainty of Commonwealth funding to guarantee access to preschool, issued in a recent report by the Chifley Research Centre, has been described by the Australian Education Union (AEU) as “welcome recognition of the critical role that Early Childhood Education (ECE) has in providing equity of opportunity for all children to get the best start to their education.”
The report asks Governments to consider ECE as “a key part of the education continuum” and to provide sustainable funding to ensure that all Australian children have universal access to preschool. Currently Federal Government funding for preschool is currently renewed for only twelve months at a time, with no guarantee of renewal.
Alongside the calls for continuity, the Chifley report also called for increased investment in a “skilled, stable workforce that has the opportunity to undertake professional development and achieve appropriate remuneration for their work.”
AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe, called on the Federal Government to immediately provide guaranteed ongoing Universal Access funding to preschool for all four year olds and to extend this offering to three year olds nationally.
“Preschool education is crucially important to ensure that Australian children have the best start in life in those crucial formative years,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“It is unacceptable that the current annual funding cycles that the preschool sector is subjected to by the Federal Government denies certainty for staff, students and their families.”
Ms Haythorpe reiterated the demonstrated need to invest in a skilled, stable preschool workforce, and for the public provision of ongoing high quality preschool education to be fully funded by governments to enable preschools to plan and invest in additional teaching time, support for children and professional development for early childhood staff.
“Children who go to preschool are school ready, better at managing emotions and have better attention spans,” she added. “Learning issues can be identified and support mechanisms put into place earlier, which benefits all children, because all children learn better when skill levels in the classroom are high – children influence each other.”
Citing previous research showing that the skills and abilities that children develop in preschool lead to stronger academic performance through school and a greater likelihood of undertaking further education, she called on Governments to understand that “funding preschool is not only good for the economy but it is great for our children as it sets them up for life.”
“The benefits of a structured early childhood education program for our children are compelling and proven. It’s time for the Federal Government to make this ongoing commitment for our children and families,” she concluded.
To access the report, please see here.