Victoria releases new strategy for the early years
The Victorian Government has released a new strategy – Transforming early childhood education together: What we heard, what we’re doing – which has been developed in close consultation with the early childhood sector about the design and implementation of Best Start, Best Life, its nation leading early childhood reform.
Announced by Victoria’s Minister for Children Lizzie Blandthorn late last week, the strategy was shaped by the feedback and perspectives of more than 5,000 Victorian families, early childhood teachers and educators, service providers, peak bodies, unions and tertiary education providers to help shape the next stages of the Best Start, Best Life reforms.
The feedback included:
- Two years of quality early childhood education will give children more time to play and learn, so they can better develop the skills they need to thrive, especially those needing additional support.
- Victoria’s Best Start, Best Life reforms must value and grow the workforce.
- There is a need for more spaces where children can learn.
- We must work in partnership with the sector to ensure the reforms are a success.
“We’re partnering with the early childhood sector to meet the needs of children and families, to value and grow the workforce, to deliver quality spaces for learning, and to support the sector through positive change,” Minister Blandthorn said.
“We are starting from a strong base – the Labor Government has already provided free kindergarten programs for up to 140,000 children in 2023, supported initiatives that have helped to grow the kindergarten workforce by more than 50 per cent since 2019, and opened 400 new services and expanded another 50 in the same period.”
“The Government is also delivering more accessible and innovative educator and teacher training programs, supporting new graduates in the workplace with mentoring and induction programs, and providing more professional development for the existing workforce.”
The announcement was warmly welcomed by the Victorian early childhood sector, with the Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) Interim CEO, Terri Smith saying the Best Start, Best Life reform agenda is “a significant reform but its ultimate success will depend on ongoing engagement with early childhood education stakeholders.”
“Equal access to high quality services is crucial to maximising the impact of early childhood education and it is reassuring to read that the government is keeping that ‘top of mind’ when it comes to rolling out the reforms,” she added.
Transforming early childhood education together: What we heard, what we’re doing underlines the importance of universal access to two years of play-based early childhood education to the development of children while also acknowledging the importance of high-quality programs.
The report also acknowledges the importance of valuing, growing, and developing Victoria’s early childhood education and care workforce.
“At ELAA our members are excited about the opportunity to provide extended education but are also mindful that this will place further demands on an already stretched workforce. We are pleased to hear that the government is aware of this and committed to working with us to support the further development of the early childhood education and care workforce,” Ms Smith said.
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