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Preschool kids play instruments

Early childhood education awareness campaign launches in NSW

Last month the NSW Early Education Minister, Leslie Williams announced $115 million in funding for Start Strong, a program designed to make early education more affordable for all NSW families, while removing nearly all fees for Aboriginal families and low-income families.

Now the NSW Government is launching what is described as a ‘thought-provoking campaign’ that draws attention to the importance of early childhood education.

The campaign, dubbed ‘It Makes You Think’, has a stated aim of increasing the amount of hours children are enrolled in day care or community preschool in the year prior to entering primary school.

“A child needs a great parent, and a great teacher.  Many do not know that a preschool program, whether it’s in a dedicated preschool or a through long day care, provides the foundation for your children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievements at school and in life,” said Mrs Williams.

“It’s a confusing area and there are many myths about cost, availability and the real benefits to children – which is why it’s so important to break down the barriers.”

It Makes You Think campaign poster
The It Makes You Think campaign aims to drive awareness of the Start Strong initiative in NSW.

One of the key statistics underpinning the campaign is the fact that 90 per cent of brain development occurs before the age of five years – and this is the kind of detail that the NSW Government hopes will impress upon parents the importance of ensuring their young children gain maximum benefit from early education.

“Our social and emotional skills known as ‘soft skills’ are critical to success in school and life – for instance how to control emotions, take turns, share with others and pay attention to instruction, actually begin forming in childhood and learning these skills in preschool could prevent harder problems later in life,” explained Mrs Williams.

“Unlocking a child’s brain is the key to helping parents understand why early learning is such a must for their child’s development.”

Other Facts from ‘It Makes You Think:       

  • Kids who participate in early childhood education are more likely to have an IQ score higher than 90 at age 5
  • Preschool puts disadvantaged children at a level playing field with other children
  • In the first 3-5 years, there is a dramatic growth spurt, as approximately 90-95 per cent of cells organize and create pathways to more sophisticated brain functions
  • A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to 3 – producing 700 new neural connections every second
  • Young children have a unique ability to learn more languages easily and their vocabulary often quadruples between the ages of 2 and 4

Beginning in January 2017, the Start Strong initiative will deliver $115 in funding over 18 months to reduce the cost of early education and encourage parents to enroll their kids in 600 hours of early education each year.

Funding public education

The Australia Institute: Education funding over tax cuts

Boosting public education delivers greater benefits to Australian living standards than company tax cuts, according to progressive think tank The Australia Institute (TAI).

A report released by the group last week reviewing OECD data found no relationship between company tax rates and general living standards.

On the other hand, there is a positive correlation between public education spending and living standards, it finds.

In his briefing notes on the report, Senior Research Fellow for TAI, David Richardson concludes that: “The data presented here clearly suggest that if there were a choice between funding company tax cuts or more education spending, governments would be well-advised to concentrate on the latter”.

The information arrived at a critical time during the final weeks of the Federal Election campaign, with the Turnbull Coalition focusing on promising tax cuts over Labor’s ongoing support for fully funding the Gonski education reforms.

SBS News reports Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the TAI report ‘blew Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s economic plan to pieces’.

“Wages are flat-lining and living standards are falling, and Mr Turnbull’s only solution is to give more taxpayer money to big business and the banks.

“Labor wants to invest in people, and the Liberals want to blow up the budget with a $50 billion giveaway to big business.”

In contrast, a spokesman for Treasurer Scott Morrison told News.com.au the study had only “observed the obvious point that when countries have higher GDP they can spend more on education because their economy is growing”.

“This report does nothing to counter the overwhelming body of evidence, including the previous support of the Australian Labor Party, for the economic benefits of lower tax rates on business that enable them to invest and grow.

“If we have uncompetitive tax rates compared to our regional trading partners then investment will flow to those countries and not Australia. That will result in fewer jobs and lower standard of living.”

Science classroom from Shutterstock.

PM increases P-TECH funds for STEM performance

12 more schools around Australia will be included in a trial program known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), following an announcement of a futher $4.6 million in funds from the Coalition Government.

Read more

Federal budget 2016

Budget 2016: Mixed bag for education spending

The Federal Government has released its budget for the year ahead, announcing a total spend in education of $33.7 billion, yet not all areas of education are set to benefit.

Despite the spending, the government announced cuts of $152.2 million over four years to the Higher Education Participation Program, as well as $20.9 million over four years from the Promotions of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program.

By comparison the $33.7 billion in spending includes an increase of $1.2 billion of school funding, to be delivered between 2018 and 2020, as well as $118.2 million over the next two years going towards students with a disability.

As pointed our by Senior Lecturer in Education Policy at the University of Melbourne, Glenn Savage, the increase in funds falls ‘short of the $4.5 billion promised by Labor between 2018-19 as part of the Gonski reform model’.

However, the increase is nevertheless likely to be warmly received by educators who have been fearing cuts, with the government previously hinting it might cease all funding to public schools altogether.

‘The funding increase is out of step with education minister Simon Birmingham’s repeated claim that funding does not matter as much as other features of schooling such as curriculum or quality teachers. If this were truly the case, then why the funding increase?’ Savage questions in a brief letter to SBS News.

What funding does exist for schools is expected to be delivered on a needs-based plan. which may require students as young as five or six facing tests in order to determine whether they qualify for extra assistance.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said these changes have been introduced to improve student performance.

‘It is completely unacceptable that the performance of our students in fundamental skills like literacy and numeracy continues to slip even while our funding continues to significantly increase,’ Birmingham told the Sunday Telegraph.

The changes also include minimum standards for students to pass Year 12, as well as changes to teacher pay structure, with performance set to be rewarded over length of service.

Several issues have also been deferred in this budget, with higher education reform pushed back one year and little to be seen for early learning.

Queensland school funding cuts

Education Minister takes aim at Queensland’s Labor Government over school funding

Following the news that the Federal Government is contemplating changing the funding model for public schools, a round of finger pointing has ensued, most recently culminating in the Federal Education Minister attacking the Queensland State Government’s stance on the matter.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect of the Commonwealth withdrawing funding for the public school system and instead allowing the state’s to raise funds through their own taxes.

“It’s not that Mr Turnbull and his Liberals can’t afford to fund public schools, it is that they’re choosing not to,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, in a subsequent statement.

It’s understood that should the changes go ahead, the Commonwealth would continue to fund private and independent schools.

In Queensland, the issue was brought under a broader discussion on income tax-sharing, with State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying the Turnbull Government has underestimated her state’s needs and intends to push for further funding, despite securing $445 million for hospitals in the current deal.

The Federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham has denied Ms Palaszczuk’s stance, saying that “it is an utter lie” to suggest Federal funding for Queensland schools will decrease.

“Our investment in Queensland schools is increasing by $844.7 million or 27.5 per cent from 2014-15 to 2018-19, despite the scare campaign being peddled by Labor and the unions.  Beyond that it will keep going up, each and every year,” Mr Birmingham said in a statement, released yesterday.

“This increased investment is in stark contrast to Queensland Government school funding that from 2009-10 to 2013-14 actually contracted by 0.4 per cent, while Commonwealth funding increased by 30.2 per cent.”

Mr Birmingham asserts that all allocation of Queensland school funding is controlled by the State and its Education Minister, Kate Jones.

“If a government school receives a cut in funding, the blame squarely falls at the feet of Ms Jones who has complete autonomy over how much each school receives and, most importantly, how it is used.”

 

 

Queensland school funding cuts

Education Minister takes aim at Queensland's Labor Government over school funding

news that the Federal Government is contemplating changing the funding model for public schools, a round of finger pointing has ensued, most recently culminating in the Federal Education Minister attacking the Queensland State Government’s stance on the matter. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect of the Commonwealth withdrawing funding for the public school system and instead allowing the state’s to raise funds through their own taxes. “It’s not that Mr Turnbull and his Liberals can’t afford to fund public schools, it is that they’re choosing not to,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, in a subsequent statement. It’s understood that should the changes go ahead, the Commonwealth would continue to fund private and independent schools. In Queensland, the issue was brought under a broader discussion on income tax-sharing, with State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying the Turnbull Government has underestimated her state’s needs and intends to push for further funding, despite securing $445 million for hospitals in the current deal. The Federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham has denied Ms Palaszczuk’s stance, saying that “it is an utter lie” to suggest Federal funding for Queensland schools will decrease. “Our investment in Queensland schools is increasing by $844.7 million or 27.5 per cent from 2014-15 to 2018-19, despite the scare campaign being peddled by Labor and the unions.  Beyond that it will keep going up, each and every year,” Mr Birmingham said in a statement, released yesterday. “This increased investment is in stark contrast to Queensland Government school funding that from 2009-10 to 2013-14 actually contracted by 0.4 per cent, while Commonwealth funding increased by 30.2 per cent.” Mr Birmingham asserts that all allocation of Queensland school funding is controlled by the State and its Education Minister, Kate Jones. “If a government school receives a cut in funding, the blame squarely falls at the feet of Ms Jones who has complete autonomy over how much each school receives and, most importantly, how it is used.”    ]]>