By Dr Sarah Alexander
© 2008 updated in 2010
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In this article
- The statistics
- So what's the problem?
- What's happened and further information
- The characteristics of quality kindergaten
- Public policy shifts affecting kindergarten
- Is the kindergarten model really out of step with modern times as some claim?
- Was the sessional model serving children poorly?
- Discussion and your views
In 2009 Free Kindergartens provided a sessional preschool service to around 56% of children enrolled. This represents a considerable reduction from only a small number of years ago in 2007 when a sessional preschool service was provided to 97% of children enrolled. It has declined even futher and nearly all kindergartens are licensed for and offer capacity to offer all-day care and education.
In 2007, 1,215 children attended a Free Kindergarten for more than 4 hours a day (all-day care) and this jumped to 16,822 children in 2009.
In 2007, 39,362 children attended a Free Kindergarten for less than 4 hours (part-day sessions) and this number dropped to 21, 710 children in 2009.
In 2007, 3,118 children attended a Free Kindergarten that provided a mixture of full-day and part-day options and this number dropped to 814 children in 2009.
So What's the Problem?
The Free Kindergarten supported by the State as an education service with teaching staff and managers employed under the State Sector Act was set up to prepare children for school by providing morning and afternoon sessions for all children in the year or two before starting school. However, today, when parents talk about their child attending kindy - it literallly means that kindy starts in the morning, goes over the lunch-hour and ends in the afternoon.
What has been the cause of this massive and sudden decrease in the number of under 4 hour (part-day) places in kindergartens?
The 20 Hour Free ECE policy in 2007 provided a lot of extra cash to kindergartens if children were enrolled for more than 4 hours a day and up to 6 hours a day. Kindergarten associations were attracted to this - as would be expected.
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