Paediatricians and physicians call for NSW to pilot early childhood education for three-year-olds in key communities

 20 March 2023

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is calling for NSW election candidates to commit to universal access to early childhood education for three-year-olds, with a pilot program trialled in First Nations, multicultural and lower socioeconomic communities.

Evidence shows the benefits of two years of high-quality preschool programs for children, with improvements in cognitive and social and emotional outcomes.

RACP President and NSW Paediatrician Dr Jacqueline Small says “We need our NSW government leaders to invest in the education of our youngest generations.

“We know access to quality early learning has lasting impacts on children, and universal access is an important step to foster a more equitable society.”

According to a report from the Mitchell Institute, nearly a quarter of Australian children arrive at school without the foundational skills they need. This is far too many, and children who are further behind the starting line find it challenging to catch up to their peers.

“The RACP’s Kids Catch-Up Campaign has clearly defined priorities to help our kids catch up from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including implementing universal access to quality early childhood education programs for all three-year-olds and increasing funding for evidence-based school support.

“Guaranteeing access to quality early childhood education and school support today means seeing our children succeed in school and experience improved outcomes in literacy, numeracy, and social and emotional wellbeing throughout their lives.

“The NSW Government has a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of all children, and the RACP is eager to see the commitment and implementation of this important policy.

“There is a strong relationship between socio-economic status and a child’s risk of being developmentally vulnerable. Therefore, we would like to see these initiatives focused on prioritising disadvantaged communities.

“The RACP firmly believes the program must also include a dedicated focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled integration services.” Dr Small said.

The RACP is also calling for the Government’s tutoring program, particularly for students with disability and/or leaning difficulties, to be extended beyond Term 1 2023.

Dr Small said “NSW is currently experiencing the success of its tutoring initiatives, but more funding is needed to extend these programs beyond Term 1, which means there are less than two months left of funding before it is no longer available to the community.”

Read the full RACP NSW Election Statement here:

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