Starting well?

Australia is ranked #28 in this report*

p. 14

I think this issue more important than most in Australian educational and community life. Any political or systemic moves to improve educational outcomes are unlikely to be as successful unless addressing early childhood issues. Any Australian educator who reads this report will note the Finnish case study on page 13 with interest and despair. It is hardly surprising that they have such positive outcomes, at the other end of their system, with such professionalism and systemic support towards their youngest. Here’s a quick look if you do not have the time or inclination to read the whole report:

p. 13 of the report

This quote from the opening of the the report says it all:

“It is about those very young children who are going to grow up as successful lifelong learners and citizens making an economic contribution to society,” says Christine Pascal, director of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), an independent research organisation. “This is especially so in very unequal societies where you get generational and cyclical repetition of poverty and low achievement.”

That’s what the #Gonski Report concludes.



An aside: This has been an issue of personal and professional interest for some time. Back in 2008, the then Opposition Leader, Mr O’Farrell, visited the preschool my children attended. He was asked some questions by the committee re: his pledge to get ‘the preschool participation rate to 95% during its first term of government’. Re-reading the questions he was given, never answered formally, is instructive after reading the report cited at this post. The ABS provides Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia. 2011 reveals what a challenge the 2008 goal will provide the current state government.


*The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organisation, to devise an index to rank preschool provision across 45 countries, encompassing the OECD and major emerging markets.

Hat tip: Scott McLeod and Diane Ravitch have also tweeted and blogged about this report.


One Comment

    • Maria Whitcher

    • 11 years ago

    Early Years Education has never been a priority for government spending in Australia. Even within Adustralia, preschools in NSW are the lowest funded, and charge the highest fees.
    The newly introduced National Quality Framework which includes The Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards is a move in the right direction. Preschools in NSW are now under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and Communities – instead of The Dept of Community Services. Again, a move in the right direction – preschools belong in an education portfolio, not a welfare portfolio. However, all these positive initiatives will come to nought if there is not increased funding to early education. The pay gap between teachers (with identical qualifications and training) in preschools and schools is huge and I believe this inequity is not attracting teachers to the early education profession. It is just wrong that an affluent country like Australia is 28th on the list. Lets learn from countries like Finland, where they not only see, but believe, that the first 6 years of a child’s life are the formative years. It is important to provide the best possible start in the early years. I see it as an investment in our society, a little like superannuation. The more one invests in the early years, the greater the benefits in the later years. And for preschool teachers to be afforded the same respect as other professionals! I feel happy when I am recognized as a teacher!

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