Update on 100(+50) new & upgraded preschools on school grounds

Further to the NSW Government's announcement of $769.3m budget to build the 100 new preschools on school grounds by March 2027, ACA NSW provided members with an interactive map showing where these 100 new preschools would be located as well as where existing and new early childhood education and care services. (PLEASE NOTE: Some/many/all if these 100 new preschools on school grounds will be offered alongside out-of-school-hours care and vacation care so as to emulate long daycare services.)

ACA NSW's overt and persistent concerns about the NSW Government's process to determine these 100 new preschools are from the perspective of avoiding oversupply with as well as to avoid loss of early childhood educators and teachers from existing services.

Clarification received from the NSW Department of Education (dated 7 March 2024) was as follows:

"To determine the recommended preschool sites, the department undertook a rigorous site selection process with independent oversight. The department analysed data for all primary and central schools across NSW to prioritise school sites for consideration. The data used to prioritise schools included:

  • Child development data from the Australian Early Development Census
  • socio-economic data from the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas
  • projected demand for preschool places compared to current supply drawing on population prediction data to 2031.

This approach sought to prioritise children and communities with the greatest educational need. Following this, Directors Educational Leadership, Principals and local ECEC services in areas with a school being considered for a preschool were asked to provide local insights about the needs of their communities to help inform the government’s decisions regarding the sites for new public preschools. The broad range of views, data and evidence collected during this process was considered by the Panel in making their decisions about site selections.

In response to your question about projected demand and current supply, the department’s System Stewardship Model draws on a range of data including population projections for 2031 from the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure and current supply of early childhood places across NSW. Specifically, the department assessed projected population data projected for the year 2031 of children aged 3-5 years (with adjustments using assumptions on the proportion of children attending preschool) then compared this against children aged 3-5 years that will be serviced by existing places. The projected population data is publicly available from the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure’s website."

Based on the NSW Department of Education's own Assessment Panel Decision Making Framework (see Section 4.6.2 on pages 8-9), ACA NSW remains concern that the consideration of existing services, their Quality Ratings, proposed and approved new services, were dwarfed by other factors that are not within these Approved Providers' abilities to influence.

It is worth noting that the NSW Government's proposal to build these 100 new preschools on school grounds has continued to be silent on how such new services will overtly improve their own concerns of 40% of children not being developmentally on track upon starting school (dated 12 September 2022) other than from a capacity perspective.

And within the same $769.3m budget allocation, there will be another 50 preschools on non-government schools' grounds, that are yet to be announced, that will receive funding to create new preschools or upgrade their existing preschool in order to increase capacity.

ACA NSW welcomes members' input to develop an alternative criteria for the NSW Government that balances new capacity in areas of genuine need while safeguarding against oversupply and attrition of educators and teachers.