Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
It is refreshing to see learning being elevated by our major political parties. While long overdue, it recognises how important it is that 3- to 4-year-olds have access to quality preschool programs. It is particularly important for young people growing up in areas where access and affordability are huge barriers.
In NSW, the Berejiklian Government has made a commitment to enhancing the participation of 3-year-olds as well as those children with a disability or additional learning needs. There’s also a stronger focus on ensuring that our early childhood educators are delivering evidence-based learning programs relevant to today’s world.
Another reason to be optimistic is the appointment of Hon. Sarah Mitchell as NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning. It recognises the need for a more unified and cohesive approach to schooling instead of the historically fragmented one that saw early learning and school education as portfolios to be treated separately. They share a common goal – to provide quality learning for each child.
The goal for our politicians is to ensure that we are not just repeating things at each stage of learning. It has to be about a learning journey. This is why I have been advocating for a coherent learning framework from the early years right through to post-school.
Such a framework accepts that learning does not start in Kindergarten and concludes with an ATAR. Early education is as much a part of formal education as going to school is. It is also time to address the gap between secondary schools and TAFE/universities in a world where there are more post-school options for students.
Lifelong learning should not be an aspiration for a few; it should be an inherent right for every young person in today’s world.
Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta