Millions of children across NSW and Victoria will receive an extra year of school in a major overhaul that will see free ‘pre-Kindergarten’ introduced – with parents set to save thousands in daycare fees.
Australia’s biggest states will also have to find thousands of new teachers – with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews saying they’ll need at least 6,000 in Victoria alone.
The additional year of classes will see children aged four attend school five days a week for free which will cost the NSW state government an estimated $5.8billion over the next decade, and Victoria $9billion.
Hardworking parents will save about $2,500 per child a year when the scheme begins in Victoria in 2025 and by 2030 in NSW.
Mr Andrews said the groundbreaking change is about admitting that ‘childcare doesn’t work for working people and particularly working women’.
‘If you work a few more shifts or an extra day a week you are not so much working for your family you are working for the Australian tax office,’ he said.
‘It can actually cost you money to go back to work… That doesn’t make any sense and that’s holding families back, particularly holding women back.
‘If we want gender equality in this state then we need to make sure women have the economic power and independence they are fundamentally entitled to.’
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (right) said the dramatic is about admitting that ‘childcare doesn’t work for working people and particularly working women’
The new policy aims to take pressure off families paying for childcare in the year before school by increasing free preschool from 15 to 30 hours per week.
Up to 130,000 children are expected to enroll in the the NSW pre-Kindergarten classes by 2030, which are not compulsory.
In Victoria three and four-year-olds will also be given 15 hours of free sessional kinder a week from 2023.
Up to 50 childcare government-run centres will also be set up in areas in Victoria where there aren’t enough services from 2025, offering lower fees to families than private centres.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the program would see children thrive across NSW.
‘This is an incredible reform that will change lives and deliver enormous educational benefits for children across the state, securing a brighter future for NSW families,’ the premier said.
‘We’re ensuring our youngest learners thrive by introducing a full year of preschool education before Kindergarten.’
The state government will spend $54million designing a model for how the week’s worth of classes will be taught to pre-Kindergarten students.
Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured visiting an early learning centre in Sydney on Monday) said the new program would see children thrive across NSW
What does it mean for parents?
The ‘greatest transformation of early education in a generation’ will mean parents in NSW and Victoria will have more flexibility to work before their child starts at primary school.
Under the plan, kids will attend an extra year when they turn four – saving parents thousands in childcare costs.
The five days a week program will consist of 30 hours a week of play-based learning is optional and free.
In Victoria it will be known as ‘pre-prep’ and in NSW it will be called ‘pre-kindergarten.’
But those hoping to participate will have to wait a little longer with the scheme set to begin in Victoria in 2025 and NSW in 2030.
In Victoria it’s expected up to 90 per cent of families will take up the offer for their kids to go into pre-prep classes, which are optional.
Premier Dan Andrews said: ‘These massive reforms are about setting our kids up for the future and investing in women’.
‘This is all about investing to make systems that are broken and don’t work so much better.
‘Mums will be able to get back into the workforce, study or do whatever it is they choose to do.
‘At the moment there isn’t that choice. Mums are denied that choice.’
The policy will also provide five days of free childcare, an additional two to the three currently enjoyed by households in NSW (pictured, children at a early learning centre in Sydney)
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said parents across the state could expect ‘intergenerational results for our kids and the economy’.
The policy is expected to be the most efficient way of boosting declining education standards with a similar model experiencing great success in Canada.
Mr Kean described the extra year of education as the closest thing to a ‘silver bullet’ when it came to improving NSW education.
The new policy is expected to be at the centre of next week’s state budget, which the treasurer said was focused on ‘investing in a better future’.
Millions of children across NSW and Victoria will receive an additional year of preschool education in a major overhaul to early childcare (pictured, preschool students in Sydney)
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell hinted the classes would be ‘play-based learning’ and said she had been pushing for the extra year of education since seeing its success in Canada, where 90 per cent of families enrolled.
In a joint statement, the premiers said the new policy was ‘the greatest transformation of early education in a generation’.
Victorian Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt said the policy would give kids the best start to life, with 90 per cent of brain development occurring in the first five years.
‘We know families are struggling with the cost of living and free kinder will help make sure no child misses out on those vital early years,’ she said.
NSW AND VICTORIA’S EDUCATION OVERHAUL
NSW will spend an estimated $5.8billion over the next decade in new policies for early childhood education. Victoria will spend $9billion
Under the changes four-year-olds will be given a free 30 hours a week of ‘pre-kindergarten’ classes
In NSW this will start from 2030, while it will be rolled out in Victoria from 2025
In Victoria three and four-year-olds will also be given 15 hours of free sessional kinder a week from 2023, with parents saving $2,500 per child a year
Up to 50 childcare government-run centres will also be set up in areas in Victoria where there aren’t enough services from 2025, offering lower fees to families than private centres
While the pre-prep and pre-kindy classes aren’t compulsory it’s expected the majority of families in NSW and Victoria will take up the offer