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Teachers r Teachers: Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care - final report

 

The Julia Gillard-led Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care in South Australia recently released its final report.

The report contains 43 recommendations and details an ambitious vision for the future. Commissioner Gillard said, “The science now tells us that investing in the early years – from birth to school entry – pays the biggest dividends, with 90% of brain development occurring in the first five years of a child’s life. That’s why the best start lays the foundations for a better future.”

 

The key unifying themes of the report and the new system it describes are:

  1. Every child will benefit from greater access to quality services, including an extra year of preschool. However, because children are different, the system will be universal but not uniform, which means additional help will get to the children and families who need it.
  2. Irrespective of a family’s postcode the quality of local services will be improved. The Commission recommends that every service, whether provided by government, the private sector or a not for profit should link together and form a coherent system that is easier for families to use.
  3. South Australia can be a nation leader on early childhood development by: 

 

    • driving towards an ambitious goal to reduce the number of children starting school with developmental challenges
    • offering up to 30 hours of preschool per week for three and four-year-olds who need the most developmental support
    • constantly translating new scientific knowledge into action, and
    • leading the national policy conversation on the early years.

Recommendations to help children and families:

In the first 1000 days of life

  • More frequent and easier access to child development checks provided through Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) and the Office for the Early Years.
  • Better information about how families can support healthy child development, through State Government support for the Words Grow Minds campaign.
  • Action on ‘childcare deserts’, including State Government providing services directly itself in some circumstances.
  • Improved information about childcare quality and support to improve it, including through more frequent ratings and assessments by the regulator.
  • Childcare that connects families and their children to other supports.

Preschool

  • A minimum of 15 hours of preschool for 3-year-olds, provided at government preschools and long day care.
  • Up to 30 hours of preschool access for those 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds who need more support.
  • High-quality, play-based learning available in all settings, including government preschools and long day care services.
  • Specific interventions to improve quality and the support of teachers in long day care services, including more time each week to plan their teaching and more access to professional development.
  • For the first time, defining and funding preschool as a service that provides children with a learning entitlement and connects families to the right supports, including allied health and help for families.
  • Trialling preschool Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) for government preschools, to better support working families.

Recommendations to improve the quality and connectivity of early childhood education and care

  • An ambitious 20-year goal for reducing the proportion of South Australian children who are developmentally vulnerable from 23.8% to 15%.
  • A newly empowered Office for the Early Years to oversee system change to achieve this goal.
  • An Early Childhood Workforce Fund to build the ECEC workforce.
  • Improve the content and structure of Early Childhood Teacher degrees to address workforce issues and build a pipeline of high-quality staff.
  • Culturally safe services for Aboriginal children.
  • Better access to ECEC and OSHC for children with a disability.

Read more about the Final Report



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