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Independent national preschool inquiry – Background AEU discussion paper: Towards a National Plan for preschool education – 1998: ongoing consultation.

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Presentation on theme: "Independent national preschool inquiry – Background AEU discussion paper: Towards a National Plan for preschool education – 1998: ongoing consultation."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Independent national preschool inquiry – Background AEU discussion paper: Towards a National Plan for preschool education – 1998: ongoing consultation and investigation AEU early childhood policy revised 2003 Commonwealth Government’s ‘Towards a National Agenda for Early Childhood’ consultation: cross portfolio, will not seek to alter existing Commonwealth –state/territory roles

3 AEU: underpinning principles An active commitment to universal and equitable access to at least one year of high quality preschool education The Commonwealth, in partnership with the states and territories, must take a responsibility for funding and planning preschool education A national plan for preschool education, to be developed by the Commonwealth in partnership with the states and territories and other stakeholders Preschool education is a vital part of the education continuum. Early childhood education must recognise and affirm the cultural knowledge, language and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from culturally diverse backgrounds.

4 The role of the Commonwealth Commonwealth funding for preschool education was abolished in The Commonwealth contributes to all other sectors of education and largely funds childcare. There is no coherent national policy on preschool education, no national goals, and no consistent or coordinated strategies to ensure access. National data is incomplete and inconsistent.

5 Differences between the systems Age of entry Departmental responsibility Names of programs Length of access Cost to parents Links to schools Links to other early childhood services eg child care, health Hours of attendance Maximum group size Teacher qualification requirements Salary parity Access and participation rates

6 Who is responsible for preschool education? Staffed and funded by Education Departments, and part of or linked to schools in: ACT, NT, Queensland, SA, Tasmania and WA. Funded by Community Services in NSW and Victoria. Provision largely by community, private, local government providers, with a small number in government schools. 100 DET preschools in NSW. Education departments also responsible for child care in SA, Tasmania and ACT. New links emerging between education and childcare and health in some systems.

7 What is provided? On average, 10 – 12.5 hours of preschool education for 4 year olds (two years before Year 1.) Queensland preschool one year prior to year 1, but fulltime prep. in year olds also funded in NSW, Queensland, SA and ACT Early access in some systems eg. for Indigenous children, pre-entry program in SA.

8 Age of entry into preschool and school Department of Education and Training, Western Australia, November (modified)

9 Participation in preschool education 253,400 4 year olds in Australia in % of 4 year olds in preschool in year before school 27,704 3 year olds –around 17% of all 3 year olds. 239,270 children in preschool education 193,809 Commonwealth approved long day care places for 0-4 year olds in 2002.

10 Who is missing out? About 40,000 children missing out -- about 2400 in NT Data is incomplete and unreliable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (est. 13,000 3 & 4 year olds) Children from NESB Children with disabilities Children from rural and remote areas? Children from lower socio-economic backgrounds? Report on Government Services 2003

11 Cost to parents No national update on comparative costs NSW 2001: average $2.72 p.h. $2.06 for incomes less than $20,355 and $3.59 p.h. for incomes over $40,975 (Country Children’s Services survey) Victoria: average about $140 per term or $1.40 p.h. QLD: free in state schools (avg. $12 p. day for younger children in C & K, $2.18 p.h.) TAS WA SA free or voluntary contribution ACT NT

12 Funding of preschool education Total expenditure was $447.5m in Average country expenditure for 3yo+ is 0.4% of GDP. Most countries spend 0.4% to 0.6%. Australia spends 0.1% of GDP. Australia is one of the 4 lowest spending out of 35 countries. Aust. average excludes WA & Qld. Data includes funded 3 year olds. Report on Government Services 2003 OECD, Education at a Glance 2002

13 Independent national inquiry Underpinned by a commitment to equity and universal access Identification of barriers, challenges & successes A focus on the role of states/territories and the Commonwealth in ensuring access Identification of initiatives Strategies to strengthen links between preschool, schools and other early childhood services.

14 Inquiry process national forum October State/territory forums Nov.2003 – March 2004 Written and verbal submissions by 31 March Launch of report at national forum on May Independent researcher: Kathy Walker

15 AEU position Universal, equitable access to at least one year of free preschool education Commonwealth to take a responsibility in partnership with states and territories Additional resources from Commonwealth to ensure equitable, universal access to high quality services National plan for preschool education – goals, policy, minimum standards, strategies National structures –advisory, research, national programs to be coordinated via DEST/MCEETYA & linked to cross-portfolio structures Priority strategies to achieve participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children


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