Free Three-Year-Old Kinder - Why it's worth $9 Billion to VIC

Free Three-Year-Old Kinder - Why it's worth $9 Billion to VIC

Posted by Kellie Macpherson on

In June this year, the Victorian Labour Government announced their "biggest economic and social reform" (dubbed the '10-year plan'), in over 20 years. Their target early childhood education. Their key messages of 'two years of kinder are better than one', and 'the best start for every Victorian child' caught our attention.

5 facts about the 2023 free kindergarten program:

  • From 2023, Free 3 year Kindergarten (preschool for other states) will be available for all Victorian three and four-year-old children at participating services. In both standalone (sessional) services and long daycare (childcare) settings – a saving of up to $2,500 per child, every year.
  • For three-year-olds, this means 5 -15 hours per week. For four-year-olds, this means 15 hours per week of a kindergarten/ preschool program.
  • Starting in 2025, Victoria will begin to offer 30 free hours of play-based learning a week. Currently, it is 15.
  • Over the next decade, four-year-old kinder will transition to ‘Pre-Prep’ becoming a universal 30-hour-a-week play-based learning program.
  • The new Pre-Prep program will not be mandatory but is expected to have a strong uptake. Currently, there is 92 percent enrolment in four-year-old kinder.

The world-leading studies underpinning the $9 billion free kinder rollout

The main studies that appear to underpin the government's free kindergarten program decision, are 2009 and 2012 studies titled 'Outcomes & Indicators of a Positive Start to School'. These were conducted by Vic University, The Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, and The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

The Vic Gov makes mentions they are drawing on these studies on their 'Transitions to School' Website HERE.

Our top 5 takeaways from the Positive Start to School studies

  1. emphasis should not be on motor skills and language skills, etc, which are normally the focus of school readiness.
  2. the most important indicators of readiness for school is the play styles of children including demonstrating curiosity, cooperation, creativity, imagination & flexibility.
  3. only one primary teacher involved in the study emphasised the importance of skill ability, i.e. fine motor development.
  4. readiness for transition to primary school needs to be judged on the trilogy of child, parent & school! All 3 need to be ready for the child’s successful transition.
  5. outcomes of a positive start to school focus on children feeling safe, secure, and supported within the school environment. They should exhibit emerging autonomy, resilience, and agency, and display a confident sense of identity.

Potential outcomes of free kindergarten for all Victorian kids

As stated on the Gov website: A child who has attended two years of a quality kindergarten program will, on average:
  • have better cognitive and social skills when they start school. This includes better development in language, pre-reading, early number concepts, non-verbal reasoning, independence, concentration, and social skills)
  • have higher exam scores at 16, including better grades in English and maths
  • have more developed social and emotional outcomes at age 16
  • be more likely to take more final year exams and to go on to higher academic study

If you would like more info -

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