Supporting the independent education community

Universal access? I think not!

The expansion of early childhood education in Australia to allow access to a structured and play based early learning program to all children in the year before they enter school is meant to be a universal access policy.

In 2009, the Australian Government finally got involved in early childhood education, which was previously the responsibility of states.

It responded to international policy comparisons and research evidence about the economic benefits of early education for later life outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged children.

One commitment the government made was a non compulsory opportunity for every child in the year before they enter school to attend a 15 hours per week (or later 600 hours per year) quality learning program.

This commitment presented Australia with an enormous task, although it seems comparably small to other countries, such as Finland, where all children have a subjective right to full time early childhood education should their parents so decide and a pre-primary education program is compulsory for all six year olds before they go to school.

Although things may have not gone to plan, government policy has give preschools some unprecedented powers, the authors of this report argue.