Early learning is “critical” announces the minister as he dedicates $840 million to fund preschool places for all four year-olds.
Nov 16, 2015 | News
All Australian four-year-olds are guaranteed a preschool place under a new $840 million scheme announced this week.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the funding would ensure that all children have access to 15 hours of high-quality preschool education in the year before they start school.
The minister has made a formal offer to state and territories to extend the current National Partnership Agreement on early education, which they must now sign to lock in funding for the 2016 school year.
The agreement stems from some six months of consultation between state and federal departments.
Senator Birmingham has been vocal about his determination to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds do not start school behind their peers because of a lack of educational opportunity.
“While states and territories are responsible for the delivery of preschool education, this $840 million commitment recognises the immense benefits a quality preschool education provides.” He said.
“We know that preschool is critical in laying the foundations for future learning, including children’s school readiness and future school success.
“The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring that Australian children and families receive the appropriate support when and where they need it - particularly in the year before they start school.”
Accountability has been a common theme in funding arrangements made by the senator since his promotion to the ministry in October, and this proposal is no exception.
“The extended agreement clearly sets out agreed benchmarks to encourage and reward states and territories that demonstrate improved enrolments and access to preschool programmes that benefit Australian children,” Senator Birmingham said.
“This National Partnership Agreement also requires states and territories to support preschool programmes in long day care centres as well as dedicated government and community preschools.”
Childcare was moved from the social services department into the education portfolio in September, giving Mr Birmingham responsibility for delivering the Government’s $3.5 billion childcare reform package.
Due to be implemented from 1 July 2017, it includes the introduction of means testing to assess child care subsidy entitlement.