Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Yvette Berry, announced today that the A.C.T. government will offer two years of free preschoolers to families in the state.
The new initiative will see the government offer 15 hours per week of free, universal early childhood education to three-year-old children as part of the A.C.T. Early Childhood Strategy.
As a result, children in the A.C.T. can participate in two years of formal education before they commence school, which is expected to benefit children greatly in preparation for their school years.
Early Childhood Australia (ECA), the peak advocacy body for children under eight, their families and early childhood professionals, issued a statement from CEO Samantha Page in response to the announcement:
“High quality preschool programs, led by qualified early childhood teachers, provide children with the opportunity to learn through play—developing their confidence in communication, collaboration and social skills and emotional regulation.
Children who are at risk of educational disadvantage will benefit the most from the extension to two years. This was a key recommendation of the recent report Lifting Our Game: A Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools through Early Childhood Interventions which found compelling evidence for increasing early education investment to extend universal access.”
— Yvette Berry MLA ???? (@YvetteSBerry) July 27, 2018
The ECA explains that access to preschool is vital in narrowing the gap in education and experience between children when they commence junior primary school:
“Preschool education is particularly effective in reducing the opportunity gap, where some children would otherwise be at a disadvantage when they begin school. It also means that children with speech or language difficulties can be identified early and provided with extra support.”
The new initiative will not effect the Federal Government’s Child Care Subsidy system for families that choose not to send their children to preschool. According to the ECA, that choice remains a good one.
“Quality early childhood education can be delivered in a range of settings to meet the needs of families as well as children,” Ms Page said.
“But it is important that the education program is delivered by a qualified teacher and meets the National Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education.”
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