National Report on Schooling in Australia 2013
National initiatives and achievements
2.3 Strengthening early childhood education ¹
Australian governments have committed to supporting the development and strengthening of early childhood education, to provide every child with the opportunity for the best start in life (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008
National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
, Commonwealth and state and territory governments committed to ensuring that all children have access to a quality early childhood education program, delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher, for 600 hours in the year before they attend school full time.
The Australian Government's commitment of $970 million over five years to 30 June 2013 included $955 million, provided directly to states and territories to support their implementation of universal access to early childhood education. Three million dollars each year (for five years) was also set aside for research, data development and evaluation. The national partnership includes a specific focus on ensuring early childhood education is available to Indigenous and disadvantaged children.
In April 2013, the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education was renewed for the period of July–December 2014. A further $655.6 million was allocated to states and territories to support the maintenance of universal access.
National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development
Through the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development
, the Australian Government provided $292.6 million for the establishment of 38 children and family centres across Australia by June 2014. The children and family centres deliver integrated services, including early childhood learning, child care and family programs in areas where there is a demonstrated need for these services and a high proportion of Indigenous children under five years of age. As at 31 December 2013, 30 of the 38 centres had been completed.
National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care
The Australian Government, together with state and territory governments, has committed to the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care
that contributes to improving better educational and developmental outcomes for children by using education and care services, including most long day care, family day care, kindergarten/preschool ² and outside school hours care services in Australia.
Under the agreement, the National Quality Framework was established to provide a national system for regulation and quality assessment of child care and early learning services to ensure children consistently receive a high-quality standard of education and care.
Regulatory authorities in each state and territory are responsible for administration of the National Quality Framework. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority is a national body that supports regulatory activities under the National Quality Framework.
Since the introduction of the National Quality Framework in 2012, regulatory authorities have been assessing and rating services against the National Quality Standard. As at December 2013, 32 per cent of services had received a quality rating.
National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care
The National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care facilitates collection, sharing and reporting of early childhood education and care information. It was developed in consultation with the Australian Government, states and territories, as well as key data agencies. The agreement is a key element of the COAG monitoring and reporting arrangements, especially for children in the year before school under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, and for Indigenous children in that age group, under the Closing the Gap agenda.
Further information on the commitment for strengthening early childhood education is outside the scope of the National Report on Schooling in Australia but is available on the Australian Government Department of Education
¹ Early childhood education refers to programs that children may undertake in the years before they commence full-time schooling. In general, statistical and other information on early childhood education in Australia is not reported in the National Report on Schooling in Australia.
² In jurisdictions where preschool is currently delivered by government or non-government schools, there is an option of administering the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care through existing government quality assurance processes with respect to preschools (National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care, Appendix B-8.53).
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