SA Labor party makes pre-election pitch for royal commission into early learning

SA Labor party makes pre-election pitch for royal commission into early learning

by Freya Lucas

October 25, 2021

The South Australian Labor Party has made major pre-election promises in relation to early childhood education and care (ECEC), pledging to make preschool available for all three-year-olds, and to conduct a Royal Commission into early learning. 


Labor leader Peter Malinauskas was criticised by the sitting Liberal Government for the announcement because he could not provide precise costs for the policy, saying costing the policy would be a matter for a Royal Commission that his party would establish to overhaul the state’s early learning system.


The proposed Royal Commission would focus on affordability and access to early education, and whether out-of-school care operating hours should change.


Mr Malinauskas’ proposal to extend universal access to preschool to include three-year-olds mirrors Victoria’s policy, with New South Wales and the ACT also making moves in this space. As part of the discussion, he shared his perspective that the take up of preschool is low because it does not align with working hours. 


Should the SA Labor Party be successful in the March election, the policy would not come into effect for a full election cycle, until 2026, and is part of a broader plan to overhaul education.


That broader plan includes banning mobile phones in classrooms, introducing a mid-year intake for preschool and reception from 2023, and requiring prospective teachers to have achieved a minimum ATAR of 70.


Mr Malinauskas anticipates that the Royal Commission would take between 12 and 20 months to complete.


“The cost of doing this depends entirely on the method of delivery, and that is what the Royal Commission will be thoroughly examining, looking at the various options,” he told the ABC.


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