Great for children, good for families, good for Australia – further responses to NSW Budget
Peak bodies from both the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector and allied fields have continued to praise the New South Wales and Victorian Government’s recent efforts to elevate the status of early learning by committing to Universal Access to play-based learning for all children in the year before school.
Launchpad for life – a once in a generation opportunity
“This ambitious announcement is recognition of the long-overdue steps towards addressing the critical importance of the sector,” said Dr. Lesley Jones, Head of Pedagogy & Practice for Affinity Education Group.
“The news about this reform is a step in the right direction in addressing access and the importance of high-quality early learning for all.”
Her perspective was shared by Goodstart Early Learning CEO Julia Davison who described the joint announcement by the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria as “a game changer” that offers the real opportunity to improve educational outcomes for Australia’s children.
“This announcement is great for children, good for families and good for Australia,” Ms Davison continued. “It will be a complex reform that will involve major changes to the funding and operation of long day care centres and preschools in both states, and we welcome the commitment from both Premiers of extensive consultation with the sector.”
Centre for Policy Development (CPD) Senior Fellow and Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Development Council Leslie Loble described the reforms as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for national, systemic early childhood reform, along the lines of the national guarantee that CPD has been calling for as part of its Starting Better report.
“Early childhood is the launchpad for life, and introducing a universal year of high-quality preschool is a major step toward ensuring every young child and family has what they need to thrive, regardless of where they live or their families’ circumstances,” she said.
Consultation vital, workforce support needed
Both Ms Davison, Ms Loble and Dr Jones agreed that it will be vital for all levels of government to consult closely with the sector when it comes time to determine the practicalities of rolling out the funding, a perspective shared by Uniting NSW.ACT Head of Early Learning Rod Nadwie-Smith who said “there’s still a lot of detail needed to be collaborated with the sector in terms of capital, workforce and pay and conditions,” urging decision makers to continue to work on the National Early Childhood Workforce Strategy: Shaping our Future so that this new policy delivers on quality early learning for all children.
“We need to make a focused effort to ensure all the necessary groundwork is done for our workforce to deliver this,” he continued.
“It is all well and good to have a new policy which will provide better learning opportunities for children, but it needs to be delivered to a high standard. That comes from having high-quality preschool and early learning educators onboard with the new policy and being given the correct tools and support to deliver it.”
“Even though we don’t know what the exact policy will look like. It is a positive move towards making the early learning sector the priority it needs to be. It now gives the sector the green light to work towards getting children into preschool five days a week at no charge to families. This will allow our sector to work, in unity, with other service providers, families and children towards this goal,” he continued, sharing his excitement to continue to work with Governments on increasing quality early learning services to all communities.
For more information about the announcement, please see here.
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