National focus on early learning strengthened with new measurement tool
The Australian Government, states and territories has announced that a trial of a new Preschool Outcomes Measure (POM) will begin in 2025.
Participation in the POM trial will not be mandated and will be entirely at the discretion of individual early childhood education and care service providers.
The POM is a key reform being jointly progressed by the Australian, state and territory governments and will aid early childhood teachers and educators to monitor and report on the learning and development of preschool aged children across Australia.
It will be developed and trialled nationally to help meet the ongoing developmental and educational needs of children in their year before school and will assist early childhood teachers and educators to optimise learning within their services by:
- enhancing the teaching experience and supporting them to meet requirements under the National Law to assess and document children’s learning;
- minimising workload by streamlining existing processes;
- understand a child’s strengths and capabilities; and,
- plan for suitable next steps in children’s learning and development.
The introduction of the POM follows key recent initiatives such as the National Early Years strategy, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Early Childhood Education, and the Draft National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy, and “further illustrates that Australia is serious about harnessing the benefits of quality early childhood education and care,” Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) Interim CEO Teri Smith explained.
The trial will focus on two age-appropriate, nationally agreed learning progression domains: executive function, a child’s ability to plan and remember instructions, and oral language and literacy, a child’s ability to communicate and create through language.
These two domains have been selected as they are foundational skills that support children to thrive in all areas of their lives. POM will be applied through play-based learning, complementing the everyday practices of educators and teachers when observing children’s learning and development.
Importantly for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, POM will be designed in partnership with the sector and stakeholders, and aims to streamline current processes, making life easier for educators and teachers while improving learning outcomes for children.
“We look forward to the development of a Preschool Outcomes Measure. This needs to be firmly based upon rich early childhood pedagogy to support and build on existing high-quality early childhood teaching and learning in services across the country,” said Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) CEO Elizabeth Death.
“Equipping our early childhood teachers and educators with a validated, appropriate tool to scaffold children’s learning, in sync with the National Early Years Learning Framework, will improve practice and streamline and reduce workload for our greatly valued early learning workforce”.
Children will not be aware their learning and development is being monitored so there is no risk children will develop any measurement related anxiety.
“Everyone will be re-assured to know that the results will not be used to publicly comment on teacher or educator performance,” Ms Smith emphasised.
The voluntary trial will commence in 2025, with jurisdictions that have existing tools able to align their programs with the new national learning progressions, rather than having to adopt the new teaching tool.
Early learning services will have the option to use familiar state-based diagnostic tools, such as Victoria’s Early Years Learning and Assessment Tool (EYLAT), to report via the POM.
The results gathered through the POM will not be publicly available or be used in any kind of ranking of children or early learning services, and POM results will not be tied to service funding.
The Preschool Outcomes Measure is a key reform under the $2 billion Preschool Reform Agreement being jointly progressed by the Australian and state and territory governments.
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