Early childhood education and schooling

Australia dropped down OECD ranks based on the last Programme for International Student Assessment of 15-year-olds, and on other measures of performance have stagnated or gone backwards. The annual NAPLAN reports show that high SES students, whether measured by parental occupation or parental education, do significantly better across all the literacy and numeracy tests.

It is in the nation’s interests for all children to have the opportunity to be well-educated, regardless of their parents’ means.

Sandra Kanck, Democrats Early childhood and Schooling spokesperson

Roughly one in five young people in Australia do not complete year 12, gaps in outcomes persist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and the race for high ATARs (and entry to elite universities) is dominated by young people from the wealthiest backgrounds. 17% of Australian young people leave secondary school without achieving basic educational skill levels. (2018)

Our plan

Early childhood development


– 26 weeks of paid parental leave, allocated to each parent with encouragement for equal sharing.
– Support by healthcare professions to vulnerable families with access to 25 maternal and child health checks plus home visits. 
– Better integration of early childhood services. 
– A new early childhood funding model integrating education and care and preschool. 
– Vulnerable children are entitled to at least three free or low-cost days of high-quality early childhood education and care a week.
Two years of free preschool (20 hours/week) in the years before school. 
– A smooth transition from early learning to compulsory school education.
– Nationally consistent registration and standards for all early childhood teachers.
– A strategy for the early childhood education and care workforce that includes proper remuneration and raises qualifications as soon as possible to a four-year degree. 
– A needs-based strategy for infrastructure and resources for early childhood learning centres.
– A focus on making early childhood services accessible and universal.



Needs-based funding for government schools, based on the Gonski report. 
Raise the status of teachers and attract high achievers to the profession.
– Improve pay for teachers, incentives for high achievers to study teaching, overhaul teacher career paths.
Fund master teacher positions and instructional specialists to support teachers.
Develop a scholarship program for high achieving students who choose to go on to teaching.
Fund research to develop a clear understanding of best teaching practices and programs.
– Give teachers enough time to be great teachers.
– Fund more preparation time for high-quality lesson planning
– Reduce non-essential tasks, more flexibility in prep.
– Reduce out-of-field maths and science teachers taking those classes in secondary schools.
Reverse the trend of segregating children on the basis of ability to pay fees.
– Measure the success of equity and inclusion.
– Invest in schools with poverty and disadvantage.
Encourage more community involvement in schools.
– Replace NAPLAN with assessments that show how to close the gap for disadvantaged students.
– Adopt sampling and teacher-led assessments of student performance and growth.
– Recognise the need for flexibility and an understanding of the complex factors at play for young people.

The benefits of a truly excellent early childhood education and care are: better access to the workforce for parents, more secure, higher-paying jobs in the sector, higher educational attainment for children, higher tax revenues, lower health crises and policing costs for governments.

Education is a lifelong process that should foster initiative, and creativity in individuals. Schooling should allow students to maximise their participation in the Australian and global communities. Education is core to employment and socialisation. Quality teachers are essential to a cohesive civilised society and deserve our respect and support. 

It’s a no-brainer!

See here and here for more on this.

Contact Sandra on 0417 882 143

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