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Long-term solution to preschool funding needed

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Goodstart Early Learning, Australia’s largest non-government provider of preschool programs, has welcomed today’s announcement of a one-year extension of Federal Government preschool funding, while calling for a longer term commitment.

Goodstart, a not for profit that provides preschool programs for over 15,000 children in more than 600 early learning centres, said the funding would provide certainly for planning of quality programs for 2018.

“Access to early learning makes a huge difference to children’s later learning performance and is an absolute no-brainer as the most cost effective tool at Government’s disposal to improve educational outcomes,” Goodstart advocacy manager John Cherry said.

“Research shows that children who had attended preschool scored around 30 points higher on Year 3 NAPLAN literacy and numeracy tests, and that the advantage carries right through to high school.

“Children who start preschool two years before school (at the earlier age of three years) perform even better, with the UK’s Education Endowment Fund estimating the advantage as the equivalent of six months of child development.

“Disadvantaged children benefit the most from access to preschool and early learning as they are most likely to start school behind their peers and stay behind.

“The best and most cost effective way of improving the school performance of disadvantaged children is to invest in earlier access to quality early learning.

“The huge investment that the Government has announced to support disadvantaged schools will be far more effective if they make a longer term commitment to investing in two years of early learning before school.

“The first five years of a child’s life are when most of their brain development occurs, and is the key window for influencing the foundation for later learning.

“Today’s announcement of a one year extension of preschool funding is welcome, but a longer term funding model for access to quality early learning for all children is desperately needed,” Mr Cherry said.
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