The Early Bird – Changes to National Early Childhood Opportunities

The Early Bird

Changes to National Early Childhood Opportunities

As incredible as it seems, my son will turn four in 2012. At the moment, he spends one day a week at a local kindy he loves. He will enter prep in 2013. But even before he gets there, he is entitled to public education in the form of pre-prep from 2012.

A new system for early childhood will be introduced throughout Australia in January 2012. Imagining my little boy in a preschool setting—let alone a primary school—is daunting, but exciting.

In the Spring 2011 edition of The Educator, Cameron Cooper says that, “ early childhood education in Australia is undergoing its greatest shake-up” (p.16.) He points out that research confirms the huge importance of the first five years of a child’s life, and that the more quality learning that takes place, the less need for later intervention.

Here’s what else I’ve found;

  • Improved staff to child ratios
  • Increase in qualification requirements for staff
  • A national early childhood education curriculum
  • A “quality ratings system” to compare early childhood centres (this makes me a little uneasy; I hope it doesn’t blow out to a league table war)

These new reforms relate to the year before a child starts formal, compulsory schooling (year one in Queensland.) The aim is for every child in Australia to be entitled to a minimum of 15 hours per week, 40 weeks a year. Full implementation is expected by mid-2013, but it will remain optional.

The new early childhood curriculum is to be delivered by teachers with four-years of university training, so many childcare workers will need to complete further study. I can understand the concerns of many preschool workers who already have a huge workload to deal with. In the same article, Cooper talks with teachers who are worried about increased paperwork and the effects on the time they get to spend with children in their care.

What do you think are the most important things a child should learn in a pre-school program?

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