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Early learning closes the gap

Crucial: Beyond the Bell chair Karen Foster said early childhood education sets kids up for later years of schooling. Picture: Amy PatonChildren who fall behind before they reach primary school are not getting the help they need, a Victoria University report says.
Nanjing Night Net

Researcher MeganO’Connell said improving attitudes toearly childhood education could address issues such as low education attainment rates in the south-west.

“In Australia, (pre-primary school learning is)still not valued the same way as school education is, but it is a necessity and an essential element of preparing kids for life,” she said.

“Some families – and, indeed,some members of the community and some politicians –stillview it more as childcare or babysitting rather than something that sets kids up for life.”

The report foundone-in-four children in Australia starting schoolwerenot well-preparedand one-in-three didnot spend enough hours in early childhood education to help them.

Despite the introduction of a National Quality Standardfive years ago, one-third of assessed childhood services were not meeting it.

“You tend to find that the further away from (Melbourne)you go, the more socio-economic factors come into play and the less services there are available to families,”Ms O’Connellsaid.

South-westorganisationBeyond the Bellaims to lift education attainment rates in the region.

The organisation’s chairwoman,Karen Foster, said early childhood education wasa crucial area.

“We know that once a child has fallen behind the eight-ball, it’s very hard for them to make up ground. Apoor start in the early years can leave them playing catch up for life,” Ms Foster said.

Ms Foster pointed to south-west programs that targeted early childhood, including the Nurture Nest program in Moyne Shire and the Stepping Stones to School inGlenelg Shire.

A Grattan Institute report has examined NAPLAN results and foundlearning gaps between students from different socio-economic backgrounds increased significantly over time.

“This report goes parallel with the Grattan Institute report (which shows)disadvantage is widening over timebetween low and high socio-economic areas and our report shows essentially the same thing but for a much younger cohort,” Ms O’Connell said.

“If you get in early and address the situation before the kids go to school,it’s a lot more effective and a lot less costly.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.