STROUD and Gloucester preschools have joined a State-wide protest against the NSW government’s lack of investment in early education and proposed changes to funding of community-based preschools and long day care services.
The ‘Red Day of Action’ last Thursday saw staff and students don red clothing and badges calling for increased funding to preschools.
“It’s just not good enough that the NSW government spends less on early education per child than any other State or Territory,” Stroud Preschool director Judy Christopherson said.
“We need greater investment in our children.
“We know that children that participate in early education do better in school and in later life, but the government has not increased funding despite this being the first recommendation of a review they commissioned into funding for early childhood education.”
Both Stroud and Gloucester Preschools are also concerned about proposed changes to government legislation that would mean three year olds would not receive funding to attend not-for-profit early education facilities.
Already Gloucester Preschool has had a change of zoning, meaning it is no longer considered a rural-remote preschool and can no longer access the State government subsidy.
“A third of our enrolments are three year olds,” Gloucester Preschool director Elizabeth Price said.
“If the State doesn’t fund three year olds we will have to put up fees, which would probably mean going to a two-tiered fee system.”
The most any student pays to attend Gloucester Preschool is $25 a day.
The State average for preschools is $45 a day.
“If our student numbers reduce because of the higher fees that could mean a decrease in the number of tertiary-trained staff we are able to employ,” Mrs Price said.
“An even more drastic outcome would be that we are forced to close our new classroom, which was funded by a State government grant.
“Why would the State government fund the expansion of a preschool, only to then cut funding so it becomes unaffordable for families to send their children?”
A recent report from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education stated that ‘to realise the potential of all students, children need access to high quality early learning programs from before they turn three until school entry’.
“Australian three and four year olds are engaged in formal early education at one of the lowest rates in the world, and NSW has the lowest rates in Australia,” Mrs Christopherson said.
“The OECD report Education at a Glance 2013 showed that only 13 per cent of Australian three year olds and 67 per cent of four year olds are engaged in early education.”