Northern Territory making progress on preschool targets
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
The Northern Territory is on track to meet national targets on early childhood education access, according to the latest annual report released today by Minister for Early Childhood Peter Garrett.
Mr Garrett released state and territory annual reports for 2010 on the National Partnership agreement on Early Childhood Education during a visit to Top Kids Childcare and Preschool in Boronia, Melbourne.
“The Gillard Government is investing $970 million to help provide every Australian four-year-old with 15 hours of preschool a week for 40 weeks a year, delivered by a university-trained teacher by 2013,” Mr Garrett said.
“Nationally, the reports confirm that more Australian children than ever before are accessing preschool or kindergarten, with four in five children enrolled last year and attending for an average of more than 14 hours a week. More than a third of children are already enrolled for 15 hours a week just two years into the five-year rollout of the universal access commitment. ”
“The NT experienced an increase in enrolment rates for children in the year before full time school during 2010, as well as increases in average hours per week.”
“During 2010 the NT Government trialled a pilot model in 8 schools to help develop a model for rolling out the universal access policy of 15 hours kindergarten a week, with positive feedback from the preschools and parents involved.”
Other results in the 2010 annual report included:
- The number of children enrolled in a preschool program in the year before school increased from 84.2 per cent in 2009 to 88.4 per cent in 2010. While this was slightly short of the target, it is a trend in the right direction and the shortfall relevant to target is about 50 children.
- Preschool hours increased from an average of 12 hours a week in 2009 to 13.9 hours in 2010.
- Nearly 40 per cent of the workforce is four-year university trained, 2.7 per cent above the target.
“Given more than 50 per cent of Commonwealth funding has yet to come, I look forward to the NT’s results continuing to build to the 2013 target,” Mr Garrett said.
Mr Garrett said he was aware the NT faced a number of challenges due to the remote nature of many communities and the difficulty in collecting data, and attracting and retaining qualified early childhood teachers.
“But the NT Government has shown how committed it is to preschool access and providing the best possible early childhood education to kids in the Territory, no matter where they live,” he said.
“We’ll continue working with the Henderson Government to help them reach these targets, by providing $15.9 million under the National Partnership. The NT is also benefiting from the $564 million National Partnership on Indigenous Early Childhood Development. Of the 38 children and family centres nationally, five will be built in the NT. It is crucial that these centres be progressed as soon as possible.”
“It is pleasing to see that there have been significant gains across the country, but the national challenge remains to reach the children who are missing out entirely or who are not getting enough support in preparing for school,” Mr Garrett said.
“We know that all states face challenges in some form, and we will continue working with them to help them find the best solution that fits their needs, including by allowing a range of flexible models to help them increase preschool hours.”
Mr Garrett said education ministers had recently agreed to recognise existing three year trained early childhood teachers for the purpose of delivering a preschool program under the National Partnership.
“We want Australian children to receive high quality early childhood education and care from qualified workers, helping give our kids the best possible start to education journeys while providing parents with flexibility in their work and family lives,” he said.
“The reports released today show that thanks to record investment and support from the Gillard Government, Australian families are benefiting from high quality early childhood education.”