Some thoughts for Children’s Week from our CEO
Last week was Children’s Week and that has meant events and the release of information to tell us how we’re doing as a country with early childhood education.
The bottom line is, we’re not doing well enough.
The State of Early Learning in Australia report launched this week by the Early Learning-everyone benefit campaign reminds us that one in five Australian children still start school developmentally vulnerable. On top of that, the quarter 2, 2017 snapshot published by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority shows that nearly one third (27%) of services assessed and rated were rated as needing significant improvement or as working towards meeting the National Quality Standard.
If you’re still not convinced, a Mitchell Institute paper released today reporting on the Effective Early Educational Experiences (E4Kids) study indicates that instructional support, the measure of the quality of teacher-child interactions specific to learning and cognitive outcomes scored a lot lower than other areas of quality. Not only that, it was lowest for children living in low socio-economic areas.
What does this all mean?
It means, in an effort to keep prices down for families we have compromised essential elements such as specialised teacher qualifications, teacher pay parity with schools, continuous paid professional development focussing on critical teaching skills, support and mentoring for educators and sufficient time away from children to reflect, analyse and plan as individuals and in teams.
While some may argue that we cannot afford these essential things. I would argue that we cannot afford not to. High quality early childhood education and care is an investment in our children and the future. It should be treated as a public good, not as a commodity. Almost good enough is not good enough.
Kay Turner, CEO