A win for our littlest learners: early childhood education – major developments in Victoria and NSW

Victoria and New South Wales have today committed to fully funding 30 hours – or five school days – a week of ‘pre-prep’ by 2030 for all four-year-old children.

In an unprecedented announcement, today (16 June 2022) the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet jointly announced this ‘gamechanger’ in early childhood education.

What does this entail?

The exact model is still being developed. From now until 2025, Victoria will engage in a period of consultation and trials with interested parties, before beginning the roll-out. To support the increased accessibility of early childhood education, the Victorian Government has committed to opening 50 new childcare centres in areas of greatest demand, also known as ‘child care deserts’ where demand for child care outweighs availability by 3:1.

What will the new childcare centres look like?

The program will commence in 2025 in Victoria, with a year of new schooling before what is known as prep. The new centres will have an average capacity for 100 children and be located at schools or with other public services such as TAFEs or hospitals where possible. The program will consist of 30 hours a week of play-based learning for all four-year-olds and will be known as “pre-prep” in Victoria, and “pre-kindergarten” in NSW.

Children will attend 30 hours (the same as five school length days) a week and it will be free of charge. It will not be mandatory for four-year-olds to attend the pre-prep program prior to entering school.

What does it mean for current early learning centres and schools?

In addition to greater funding for pre-prep and pre-kindergarten, the Victorian government has a planned expansion of three-year-old kinder on the horizon as well. Three-year-old children across Victoria can currently access five hours of a funded kindergarten program each week. These program hours will increase to 15 hours a week by 2029 – coinciding with the delivery of today’s promises for the new pre-prep program.

Consideration will need to be given to whether current early learning centres (ELC) and school facilities will allow concurrent running of three-year-old kindergarten and four-year-old pre-prep programs and how any proposed renovations will be funded. Services will no doubt want to ensure that learning for younger students is not cut to make way for 4 year olds, and many will need to consider staffing needs.

In our opinion, the place of ELCs inside schools remains an important element in the mix, giving parents choice while being positioned to be able to access the new record funding. Demand will undoubtedly remain for ELCs and schools with ELCs, which should – as far as we know to date – be able to offer the fully funded pre-prep program as well.

How can we help?

Once more information is provided by the State Government, we can discuss how this will impact your organisation’s funding and assist with submissions to the government.

Contact us

Please contact us for more detailed and tailored help.

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