State Govt to slash pre-school fees by up to 52%
PRE-SCHOOL fees for some families in regional NSW will be cut in half under a new State Government initiative, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has just announced.
In a statement issued at Randwick this morning, Mr Piccoli said the NSW Government was immediately increasing pre-school funding by $20 million and setting up a $5 million capital works program to improve access to preschools around NSW.
The funding for fee reductions would be delivered directly to pre-schools, which would then be expected to cut fees for any family with children who would be aged 4 or 5 as of July 31 this year.
"This $25 million initiative is part of the NSW Government move towards giving all children access to a preschool education program delivered by a qualified teacher in the 12 months prior to starting formal schooling," Mr Piccoli said in the statement.
"Across NSW this will lead to fee reductions for families of up to 26%. In regional NSW the reduction will be up to 52%.
"These fee reductions will give children of families from low socio-economic circumstances greater access to preschool education, something many of them are missing out on now."
"Here at KU Randwick Coogee a family with a 4-year-old attending preschool three days a week will save about $450 between the beginning of Term 2 and the end of this year. At KU Bulli in Wollongong the saving will be $900, at KU Koala in Wagga Wagga $930, and at KU Conjola Place in Hammondville $950."
The fee reduction was being done in response to a review of government funding of early childhood education done by Professor Deborah Brennan of the University of NSW's Social Policy Research Centre.
Mr Piccoli said the NSW Government would support "all Professor Brennan's major recommendations".
The report found that:
- One in seven children in NSW was missing out on a pre-school education
- 30 per cent of NSW Government preschool funding does not focus on the target group of four to five-year-old children;
- Many four and five-year-old children are not receiving an early childhood education program with a qualified early childhood teacher, even though they are attending an early childhood service, and
- Current funding programs were poorly targeted and not directed at NSW strategic priorities for early childhood education.
Mr Piccoli said the fee reduction would be paid for through the release of Commonwealth funds "owed to the state under a National Partnership Agreement".
However, NSW would have to rely on the Commonwealth to back it on pre-school funding after the current round of the agreement expired in June.
"Only with Commonwealth Government support can the Brennan Report recommendations be delivered to improve the funding, quality and delivery of early childhood education and care into the future," he said.
"The NSW Government will continue working on the Brennan recommendations with key stakeholders in the early childhood education and care sector."