NSW and Victoria to introduce a new year of universal early learning

NSW and Victoria to introduce a new year of universal early learning

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New South Wales and Victoria will introduce a new year of universal education for four and five-year-old children before they start school.

The introduction of a “pre-kindergarten” year of learning across both states has been described by the state premiers Dominic Perrottet and Daniel Andrews as “the greatest transformation of early education in a generation”.

Under the policy, children would be offered five days per week of play-based learning in the year before they start primary school. In NSW, the program will be called “pre-kindergarten” and will be introduced by 2030. In Victoria, the program will be called “pre-prep” and will be rolled out from 2025.

“In the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school,” Perrottet and Andrews said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“A year dedicated to growing and learning, new friends and new experiences. A year devoted to helping our kids be the very best they can be. Giving them the skills they need for school, but just as importantly, the skills they need for life.

“At the same time, it will benefit hundreds of thousands of working families. Helping more mums and dads return to work on terms that work for them.”

Both states will work together on the reform, designed to ensure all children have access to vital education in their early years. NSW will spend  $5.8 billion over 10 years on the initiative, while Victoria has dedicated $9 billion to overhaul its early learning system.

NSW Minister for Education and Early Leanrning Sarah Mitchell said that getting early education right for children has lifelong benefits.

“Almost half of all 4-year-old children do not get their recommended health and development checks, so making these available in every NSW early childhood service will open the door to brighter futures for thousands of children,” Mitchell said. 

“Knowing where children are developmentally and physically before they start school is so important, allowing any necessary support to be identified.”

Both state premiers said the reform is also designed to “work for women, not against them” and will help mothers return to the paid workforce when they wish to.

“It means a brighter future for our kids – and their families too. And two great states working together to deliver it,” they said.

“This won’t be a short-term fix, or a temporary solution. Instead, it will take years of hard collaborative work to get it right.”

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