The Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care released their final report on 27 August 2023. This build on the recommendations provided in the Interim Report, Educators SA contributed to the Royal Commission process through consultation with all the key early childhood associations (EChO, ECA, Nature Play SA, PDA SA and PMA) and presented a collaborative submission on Preschool.
In the Educators SA submission, we made 33 recommendations on the purposes and aims of three-year-old preschool, the definition of key terms, quality and innovation, workforce and delivery and administration. We sought to ‘sing the same song’ and present one united voice as a collective in the submission. Where associations held divergent viewpoints, these were included in the specific submissions presented by individual associations. This was a very effective strategy, as we saw the evidence we presented and many of our recommendations reflected to the Commissioner’s final report.
Some of the key Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations that are likely to impact on South Australian educators and leaders include:
- Preschool for three-year-old children to start in 2026
- A universal, but not uniform, system that provides quality to all but extra for those who most need the additional support
- Expanded child development checks
- At-risk children to be eligible for up to 30 hours of preschool per week from age three
- A range of delivery options should be available to families, including government preschool, long day care and integrated service hubs
- Preschool should be high-quality, play-based and equitable, no matter where it is received
- A $14 million Early Childhood Workforce Fund to increase the supply of the early childhood education and care workforce
- More funding and time for professional learning and planning for early childhood educators
- A range of options for preschool out of hours care should be evaluated, with a final model to be rolled out progressively across government preschools from 2025
- Rigorous evaluation of the three-year-old preschool program will inform the ongoing implementation.
The State Government immediately accepted 13 of the 43 recommendations and committed $70 million to implementation, with the majority of this to go towards building and expanding government preschools. However much remains to be seen. How the government implements these in an operational sense, and the degree to which they enact the remaining recommendations, will be revealed in the weeks and months ahead. Even relatively minute detail, such as what the out-of-the-school-hours care (or ‘wrap around care’ for preschool-aged children is named, matters to our educators.
One thing is for certain. Educators SA will continue to keep abreast of the plans in this space through meetings with the Office for the Early Years, collaborative discussions with the Presidents of the early years associations, internal desktop research and outreach and advocacy to government.
Educators SA would like to take this opportunity to thank the Royal Commissioner, Julia Gillard for her expertise, time and listening to us throughout the commission process.