NT signs on for preschool funding in Commonwealth collaboration

NT signs on for preschool funding in Commonwealth collaboration

by Freya Lucas

December 21, 2021

The Northern Territory has signed on to the Preschool Reform Agreement in partnership with the Commonwealth, joining NSW, Victoria and South Australia. 

 

The funding agreement will benefit up to 14,000 NT children in the year before school over the next four years, and will have a strong focus on improving preschool participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Currently only 52 per cent of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool made full use of the hours on offer in 2020, Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said. 

 

Up to  $20 million of Commonwealth funding will be made available for preschool in the NT from 2022 to 2025 under the agreement, which the Minister said will ensure NT children have access to high-quality preschool options and are better prepared for their first year of school.

 

“This agreement means every child in the Northern Territory has the opportunity to attend at least 15 hours of preschool a week in the year before they start school,” he explained. 

 

The funding is also linked to new reforms, including improving preschool participation and developing an outcomes measure, and will benefit all children, regardless of the type of preschool they attend.

 

“We know access to high-quality early childhood education and care is critical to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This agreement will build upon the Morrison Government’s $122.6 million commitment to meet early childhood Closing the Gap targets,” Minister Robert added. 

 

Northern Territory Minister for Education Lauren Moss said a quality early years education was critical to ensuring every child received the best possible start in life.

 

“Recognising the importance of early years education to the future health and wellbeing of Territory kids, the NT Government provides the opportunity for every child in the NT to attend 15 hours a week of preschool education,” Minister Moss said.

 

The Territory Government is also trialing three-year-old preschool in six NT Government schools, supporting children to have access to two years of preschool.

 

The Commonwealth is continuing to work with the remaining states and territories to ensure they can have an agreement in place, and funding certainty, ahead of the 2022 preschool year.

 

More information is available here

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