NSW Department of Education's conversations series (beginning in Liverpool, Sydney)

Today, the NSW Department of Education began its Conversation Series in Liverpool, Sydney.

ACA NSW CEO Chiang Lim was in attendance and was informed that the next events will be in Wagga Wagga and Dubbo before the end of 2022. More face-to-face events may be held in 2023.

About 25 representatives as Approved Providers, educators and teachers attended and discussed a range of issues in particular the following with NSW Department of Education representatives from 7.30 am to 10 am:

  1. the proposed Universal pre-Kindergarten;
  2. accessibility and affordability; and
  3. ways for the community and their children to further engage in early childhood education and care.

This follows the NSW Government's Early Years Commitment, and the NSW State Budget 2022-2023 announcements

Challenges that arose included:

  • severe labour shortages currently and envisaged for the next 12-18 months at least;
  • the lack of continuity between early childhood education and care services and primary schools;
  • the lack of articulated and consistent preschool outcomes measures that are agreed by both early childhood education services and schools;
  • the 40%-45% of children being developmentally not on track by the time they begin school;
  • the use of Best Start by schools for incoming kindergarten children;
  • the consistency and effectiveness of Transition To School Statements by early childhood education and care services and used (or not) by schools;
  • the absence of measurable dividends of early childhood education investment in each child and children's cohorts that can be appreciated their parents and society;
  • the different number of days of attendances by preschool children (eg 2 vs 3 vs 4 vs 5 days per week), including whether attendances are consecutive or not for reasons of teaching effectiveness;
  • the NSW planning system, local councils' development assessment process, the SEPP and early childhood education's staffing requirements that skew the availability of age-based places; and
  • the potential lack of harmonisation across multiple agencies (eg education, health, attorney-general).

Nevertheless, ACA NSW greatly appreciates the opportunity for services and the NSW Regulatory Authority to directly engage with each other.

ACA NSW has also requested that due to the severe labour shortages, that future such Conversation Series be held after working hours so that the maximum possible number and spectrum of settings can attend and participate.