The NSW Government is cutting preschool fees by an average of 30 per cent to encourage more parents to enroll their children in early childhood education, in what will be the largest single preschool fee reduction in NSW history. As part of the NSW Government’s commitment to provide universal access to quality early childhood education, fees will be reduced to an average $22 per day where a child is enrolled to attend a minimum 15 hours per week. Research shows that children who receive a quality early childhood education in the year before starting school are better prepared to transition to school and benefits carry through to adulthood,” NSW Premier Mike Baird said. This $115 million funding boost will enable more children to participate in 600 hours – or about 15 hours per week – of early childhood education in community preschools and long day care centres. Starting from 1 January 2017, community preschools across the state who enrol four and five year old children for at least 600 hours in the year before school will receive increased subsidies from the NSW Government. Funding per child will increase to between $4,250 to $6,600 – a maximum increase of 130 percent on current per four and five year old child subsidies. This will enable preschools to reduce fees by an average of 30 per cent per child and services will be contractually required to pass on at least 75 per cent of additional funding to parents in the form of reduced fees. We have listened to the sector and to parents and we are committed to making a quality childhood education affordable for all. We also acknowledge feedback from the Auditor-General who recommended that funding be tied to 600 hours enrolments, and removing the barriers to access. The funding will not only make early childhood education more affordable but will also remove nearly all fees for children from Aboriginal and low-income families at preschools. This is a positive step towards increasing access and affordability for four to five year olds in the year before school.
NSW GOVERNMENT INVESTS $340M IN QUALITY TEACHING
A $340 million investment in education by the NSW Government will help to ensure students have the essential literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed at school and later in life. The new Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2017-2020 will also deliver extra support to students from Kindergarten until they complete their HSC. The skills of reading, writing and numeracy are crucial – particularly in the first few years of school. Everything a student achieves in school depends on a solid foundation in these skills. One of 12 Premier’s priorities is to increase the proportion of NSW students in the top two NAPLAN bands by 8 per cent. This $340 million investment will help us meet that target by ensuring students have the support they need to succeed.
The NSW Literacy and Numeracy Strategy will focus on areas including:
• Increasing our focus on early intervention, with experts supporting the literacy and numeracy skills of at-risk Kindergarten to Year 2 students in nearly 700 schools;
• Evidence-based literacy and numeracy progressions that map student learning from Kindergarten to Year 10;
• Introduce a ‘Best Start’ Year 7 literacy and numeracy assessment on entry to high school, to identify students needing additional assistance and plan the support they need to succeed; and
• Ensure graduating primary and secondary teachers are better prepared to teach literacy and numeracy by strengthening initial teacher education programs.
Literacy and numeracy skills will be described clearly, taught explicitly, assessed meaningfully and reported regularly in all schools across NSW. The initiative will help students of all abilities to develop better literacy and numeracy skills which continue to be so important to success in work and future studies. Parents will also receive more information about their child’s progress, and teachers will be better able to identify areas needing improvement.