A disturbing report has revealed that 60,000 children start school every year developmentally behind in Australia and that more than 30 per cent of preschool education centres are not meeting minimum national standards.
The report by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University has shown that one in three children do not get the number of early childhood hours they need.
It’s concerning reading.
60,000 other children are being let down by a second rate early childhood education system that falls far behind other nations.Image via IStock.
My own four-year-old daughter attends our local pre-school a short walk away from our home. There she plays and paints, she learns to be confident and to communicate. In the tree-filled playground she runs, and jumps and laughs with her friends.
Next year she will go on to school with the backing of a good quality early childhood education.
But my daughter is one of the lucky ones.
60,000 other children won’t start school with such an advantage.
60,000 other children in Australia will begin school vulnerable.
60,000 other children are being let down by a second rate early childhood education system that falls far behind other nations.
The report, Quality Early Education for All found that these children show poor social skills and emotional wellbeing when they start school, then experience behaviour problems that can harm progress throughout the rest of their school years.
It calls for kindergarten to be compulsory for four-year-olds in Australia, in line with the UK, New Zealand and several European countries. Currently in Australia only one in three students attends preschool for the minimum number of hours of 15 hours a week.
It calls for kindergarten to be compulsory for four-year-olds in Australia, in line with the UK, New Zealand and several European countries. Image via IStock.
It has been widely found that children who receive two years of quality early education perform better at school, with children experiencing disadvantage benefiting the most.
"Early learning is as important as the learning a child will do at school. It's not babysitting," Mitchell Institute's director, Dr Sarah Glover told Fairfax Media.
The report says, “While experts see early education as a critical site of development and learning, families often see child care primarily as a place where children are looked after safely while they work or study.”
Dr Glover said governments should heed the evidence and treat early childhood education as just as vital as schooling.
She has said that preschool education was being wrongly perceived as a way to "help parents get back to paid work".