Early Childhood The push to secure two years of kinder ramps up

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Lockdowns will not distract us from holding the Morrison government to account for continuing to fail our youngest Australians, with the AEU leading the charge to secure funding for two years of preschool for every child.

The federal budget delivered in May 2021 finally saw the announcement of ongoing funding for the federal government’s contribution to 15 hours of preschool for all four-year-olds after eight years of national campaigning by the AEU and early childhood members.

The AEU’s national Preschool Funding Now! campaign is now focused on convincing the federal government to commit to two years of preschool for every child, delivered by a qualified teacher. Evidence shows that this sets children up to start school ready to learn, and with a strong foundation for their future.

Our campaign continues to pursue the ‘missing year’ for three-year-olds. Campaign activities have included lobbying and engagement in the ‘Thrive by Five’ campaign, with future actions to include lobbying state and federal politicians, capturing and promoting member stories about the importance of additional investment, and working with the IEU, UWU and ACTU.

While maximising the number of children who attend four-year-old preschool is an important goal, the union will be urging the Victorian government to reject any punitive attempts by the federal government to link funding to student performance.

In addition, the commitment to four-year-old funding came with a number of caveats that remain a concern, including measures on student attendance, school readiness and performance. Federal education minister Alan Tudge has announced that the school readiness and performance component will be developed and trialled over a number of years, with implementation expected in 2025. The measure of attendance is due to be implemented in 2024.

While maximising the number of children who attend four-year-old preschool is an important goal, the union will be urging the Victorian government to reject any punitive attempts by the federal government to link funding to student performance.

Negotiations for the next national early childhood partnership agreement are underway between the state and federal governments.The AEU will monitor these negotiations as they progress.

Given that the Morrison government has, at every stage, actively resisted investing in two years of kindergarten, the surest way to secure ongoing investment in early childhood education is to vote the federal Coalition out at the next election.

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