500 new preschools on school grounds can reduce 6,000-8,000 places for children 0-2 years old

The NSW Coalition’s election promise to build 500 new preschools on school grounds could be at the expense of 6,000 to 8,000 places for children 0-2 years old.

This can have a disastrous knock-on effect on the employment and days of work for working parents, especially mothers, of 6,000 to 8,000 babies to toddlers, not to mention their negative impact on the NSW economy.

Existing NSW-based preschools that are part of a school have an average of 39 places for children. Based on NSW Regulations 123 and 272, at least 4 educators will be required for each of these new preschools, of which one would be a degree-qualified early childhood teacher.

A re-elected NSW Coalition Government will therefore need to recruit up to 2,000 educators and teachers from somewhere. And given the already worsening labour shortages, ACA NSW is extremely concerned that they will recruit them mainly from existing long daycare services, in turn reducing especially the number of places for children 0-2 years old, and ultimately undermine fee affordability for all other parents.

According to ACECQA, about 13,000 educators and teachers are needed for NSW by 2023. And labour shortages has since COVID worsened. 

Since January 2012, there are 3,421 long daycare services already legally required to provide preschool education to children. They are also 777 standalone preschools. Both are in addition to the existing 154 preschools that are part of a school.

But unlike long daycare services that typically operate from 7.30 am to 6 pm for 50 of the 52 weeks in the year, preschools tend to operate from 9 am to 3 pm for 40 weeks of the year.

The supply of qualified educators and teachers must be governments’ highest priority for all children aged 0-5 years old. Otherwise, such new initiatives will negatively be at the expense of parents with children 0-2 years olds.

The NSW Parliament had passed new legislation in October 2022 to formally determine where genuine demand are and would be. But its associated board and its commissioned person have not yet even met nor been appointed respectively to even begin preparing the legally required market monitoring report.

Determining the locations of these 500 preschools without advice from the NSW Government’s own independent body also can create the repeat the lose-lose effect of oversupply and fee inflation as experienced during 2017-2019.

For any further information/clarification, please contact the ACA NSW team via 1300 556 330 or nsw@childcarealliance.org.au.