A ONE-OFF $20 million State Government grant for preschools will cut fees by as much as 50% for the rest of the year, according to a director of a Clarence Valley school.
Jacaranda Preschool director Amanda Lancaster said the grant, announced late last week was great news for parents using pre- schools to prepare their children for "big school" next year.
The announcement came after the release of the Australian Early Development Index report, which showed one in five children were not prepared for school when they started.
Although this represented a 1.6% drop in the number of developmentally vulnerable children since the previous AEDI in 2009, Minister Peter Garrett said it was not good enough.
The index was devised using data collected in May last year on nearly 290,000 students, representing 96.5% of children in their first year of full-time school.
It is a population measure of young children's development based on a teacher-completed checklist consisting of 100 questions across five domains: physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills (school-based); and communication skills and general knowledge.
The latest AEDI showed Australian five-year-olds were developing better than three years ago and had improved in four of the five key development indicators.
Ms Lancaster said funding would have a direct bearing on the AEDI figures, because it was high fees and lack of access to preschool that caused problems.
A peak industry group, Community Childcare, said NSW attendance rates at preschool in the year before school were 74.7%, compared with more than 90% in most states and territories.
The AEDI checklist of five key areas of child development:
- Physical health and well-being
- Social competence
- Emotional maturity
- Language and cognitive skills (school-based)
- Communication and general knowledge.
- Jacaranda Preschool
- The school's key guidelines are, children will have:
- A strong sense of identity
- A feeling of being connected and contributing to their world
- A strong sense of well-being
- Confidence and involvement in their learning
- Effective ways of communicating