Wednesday 23 November 2016
A dedicated, universal preschool program for 3 year olds is the best way to make sure every child has access to a high quality early education in their local community.
The design of the preschool program must reflect what we know about the conditions and features that ensure the levels of quality needed to have a substantial and sustained impact on children's development and outcomes.
The evidence is very clear that unless minimum quality thresholds are met, the investment in preschool will not deliver strong returns. The foundations of quality early education are: structural quality (dose, ratios, qualifications and group size) and process quality (curriculum and professional learning).
Australia's National Quality Framework (NQF) and Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) already provide strong foundations to work from.
Infographic text alternative:
The infographic shows potential delivery approaches and alternatives for consideration for a range of factors within the areas 'structural quality' and 'process quality'. Within the area of structural quality: Dosage: potential delivery approach - minimum dosage of 15 hours per week/600 hours per year for all 3 year olds; alternatives for consideration - implement 15 hours of universal preschool in specific locations and expand to more locations over time. Test higher dosage (30 hours) for children with greater risk of developmental vulnerability. Ratios: potential delivery approach - maintain existing NQS ratios of 1:10/11; alternatives for consideration - research the impact of mixed age groups as part of implementation. Qualifications: potential delivery approach - delivered by an early childhood teacher. 3 year old preschool to the priority for the additional early childhood teacher required under the NQS from 2020; alternatives for consideration - delivered by current diploma-qualified staff, supported by an early childhood teacher, as an interim measure. Work towards delivery by early childhood teachers as resources/workforce capacity allows. Group size: potential delivery approach - consistent with existing practice and infrastructure (20/22 children per group). Prioritise maintaining consistent peer groups and educator-child relationships; alternatives for consideration - research the impact of mixed age groups as part of implementation. Within the area of process quality: Curriculum: potential delivery approach - consistent with the Early Years Learning Framework. Additional guidance on the focus, structure and developmentally appropriate pedagogy for 3 year old preschool programs; alternatives for consideration - complement and align with existing state and territory curriculum models. Professional learning: potential delivery approach - deliver training and professional learning for educators planning and delivering 3 year old preschool programs; alternatives for consideration - complement and align with existing state and territory professional learning initiatives.