Children will be educated a year earlier under reform put forward by the New South Wales and Victorian governments.
The extra year of education would be for kids aged four to five years old and could begin as early as 2025 in Victoria. That means children in that state could undertake a year of “pre-prep” before they officially start primary classes.
Premiers Daniel Andrews and Dominic Perrottet are backing the idea for free, full-time “play-based learning” while explaining it would be a solution to enable parents – especially mothers – to get back to work.
“It will mean that, in the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school,” Mr Andrews and Mr Perrottet said in a joint statement.
“A year dedicated to growing and learning, new friends and new experiences. A year devoted to helping our kids be the very best they can be. Giving them the skills they need for school, but just as importantly, the skills they need for life.
“At the same time, it will benefit hundreds of thousands of working families.”
The Victorian government would also build 50 childcare centres in in-demand areas of the state. The aim would be to make fees less than those currently offered by private providers.
Parents could also save up to $2500 per year from 2023, with the government committed to funding 15 hours of free kindergarten per week for four-year-old children.
Mr Andrews is expected to announce the $9 billion investment on Thursday.
“These massive reforms are about setting our kids up for the future and investing in women – who for far too long have had to do far too much,” Mr Andrews said in comments published by the Herald Sun.
As The Guardian explained, NSW announced earlier this week that state would spend an initial $775 million over four years – and up to $5 billion over a decade – to encourage childcare centres to expand into “childcare deserts”.
NSW would also aim to start a “pre-kindergarten” program by 2030.