Five years ago, if you had engaged in a conversation with an early childhood member, they would have said it was a pipe dream for kindergarten to be funded for two years, let alone be free and with an increase in hours for four-year-olds.
Yet, here we are, celebrating the fact that as of 31 January our youngest Victorian children and their families have access to free kindergarten for every three and four-year-old child who attends a funded kindergarten program.
The AEU’s policy position for decades has been for state and federal governments to fund free, universal access to two years of kindergarten – and, after many years of campaigning, this is now a reality. A huge thanks to AEU members, families and allies who tenaciously campaigned on this issue. We have achieved what is arguably the most transformative reform in public education for many decades.
We now need to see this become a reality for all three and four-year-old children across the country – and to that end, we encourage our members to participate in the national Preschool Funding Now campaign.
The commencement of three and four-year-old kinder is a monumental investment by the Andrews government, ensuring our littlest Victorian citizens get the best start in life.
Free public education in the earliest years goes some way to addressing inequality. This reform provides the opportunity for every child to access high-quality early years education, ensuring that no child misses out and all children get access to the same opportunities, education and care.
The increase of four-year-old kindergarten to 30 hours a week gives both children and educators the gift of time. The research shows that we increase the educational outcomes for all children and address educational disadvantage for vulnerable children when we provide high-quality pedagogical and educational leaders whose purpose is shared with families, when there is intentional teaching for both education and care, and when there is high-level understanding of the curriculum and how children learn.
Big reform comes with challenges and opportunities, and the AEU will work to ensure that ample opportunities are provided for members to be consulted about all areas of the reform agenda with state government, the department and employers. Look out for more information about our Term 2 forum with Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep Ingrid Stitt, who wants to hear directly from you.
The commencement of three and four-year-old kinder is a monumental investment by the Andrews government, ensuring our littlest Victorian citizens get the best start in life. It is about social justice, equity and quality early years education.