Joint Media Release with Mr Andrew Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Education and Training
The Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth Kate Ellis today announced $13.2 million to help build a world-class early childhood education system in the Australian Capital Territory.
This significant investment will boost the number of preschool hours that eligible ACT children will receive in the coming years.
“Early childhood education is the foundation of the Government’s education revolution,” Ms Ellis said.
“We know that the quality of learning experiences during the early years of a child’s life set the stage for all future learning and development. And that is why we are making this major funding commitment.”
Ms Ellis said each state and territory has a different starting point and so will take different approaches to improving early childhood education, such as boosting the number of places, increasing the number of contact hours and reducing cost.
The ACT Minister for Education and Training, Andrew Barr said, “The ACT is a national leader in early childhood education offering 12 hours of free preschool to young Canberrans since 2006. This has led to more than 88 per cent of eligible students attending preschool.
“In cooperation with the Rudd Labor Government we have been able to ensure that from 2009, children attending our newly established Early Childhood Schools in the ACT have been able to undertake 15 hours of preschool per week. In 2010, eight additional schools including Charnwood Dunlop School, Ngunnawal Primary School, Florey Primary School, Kingsford Smith School, North Ainslie Primary School, Richardson Primary School, Gilmore Primary School and Caroline Chisholm School will be able to offer the 15 hour commitment, with the remainder rolling out in 2011-13. “Funding will also be provided to the Holy Family early learning and care centre in Gowrie to set up a preschool service. This will provide a pilot looking at service integration and support for child care centres that have children not accessing government funded preschool services.”
The funding follows an agreement between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to implement the Council of Australian Government’s National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education.
The National Partnership supports the Government’s election commitment that by 2013, in the year before they start school all children will have access to 15 hours a week of quality early childhood education for 40 weeks a year, to be delivered by a university-trained early childhood teacher.
“The national partnership will help make preschool services more affordable and accessible for families,” Ms Ellis said.
“The Rudd Government has committed $970 million over five years to Early Childhood Education through the national partnership. Of this major investment, $955 million will go directly to the states and territories to achieve universal access to early childhood education.”
The Rudd Government’s Universal Access initiative will also be supported by a range of early childhood reforms, including the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, which began in July 2009. This framework provides guidance to parents and early childhood educators to support early learning.
The Government has also committed $126.6 million nationally over four years to support the training and retention of more, better qualified early childhood professionals.
“Governments across Australia are working together to create a world-class early childhood education system, so that our children can have the best possible start in life,” Ms Ellis said.