This policy covers all early learning services including preschools, long day care centres that provide both preschool and care for babies and toddlers as well as other forms of day care services including Family Day Care. The NSW Government has responsibility for the regulation of childcare and provision and regulation of preschool services. To put this policy in perspective it should be read in conjunction with the Australian Greens Early Childhood Education and Care Policy which deals more fully with childcare subsidies and funding and the NSW Greens Education Policy which covers full-time primary and secondary schooling.
The Greens NSW believe:
1. Early childhood (prenatal period to 8 years of age) is an extremely important and formative period of life and as such requires appropriate consideration and care in all policy and legislation. It also requires some policy specificity about curriculum in Early Childhood Education to adequately reflect the unique nature of young children's life experience and needs. Teachers should have a basic philosophy of facilitation of learning, as distinct from teaching.
2. Traditional care structures are changing rapidly with increasing numbers of children in formal childcare arrangements, paid home care, or being cared for by extended family or community members.
3. Early Childhood teachers and educators should have the skills to “listen” to and respect children’s contribution to the decisions which will impact their lives and their experience of education. Children have a right to an education which is child-centered and the unique nature of childhood should be understood and respected and guide the educational framework.
4. Early childhood education is intrinsically linked with the principles of care and wellbeing.
5. Making profit from young children and families, as well as taxpayer subsidies, detracts from the primary focus of ensuring each child's best start possible. Children's needs are best served by the public sector, and efforts to privatise the sector must be vigorously resisted.
6. Children build their understanding of the world from their families, educators, local communities and environments. By recognising our role in each child's experiences and future potential, we ensure a better future for everyone. This is a responsibility that falls to all levels of government and society. Young children learn largely by imitation which necessitates the adults around them modelling desirable behaviour.
7. Any mechanism for quality assurance in the early learning and childcare sector must recognise the effective delivery of services has qualitative measures and should not only be based on quantitative assessments.
8. Early learning services must recognise and incorporate into learning the cultural and demographic diversity of the local population.
9. Babies, toddlers and children in any early learning service have the right to safety and protection from harm.
The Greens NSW will work towards:
10. All children having free and universal access to public early childhood education from birth.
In order to achieve this:
10.1 Ensuring all new primary schools built include a Government run preschool service;
10.2 A massive increase of funding to local government for the purpose of expanding the public sector, particularly in regional areas;
10.3 Eventual phasing out of public funds for all non-government centres beginning with for-profit providers with the long term aim of abolishing the private sector;
10.4 Unique nature of the service currently provided by the Family Day Care sector, to be offered through the public system;
10.5 Adequately resourcing compliance and enforcement by government to ensure the quality of early learning services.
11. All parents and children having access to high quality early learning and care services appropriate to their circumstances.
12. Introduction of compulsory attendance at preschool for 15 hours per week for 3- 5 year olds. This carries with it an onus to guarantee families of high quality education and care.
13. Children and family services being given greater emphasis both in political consideration and funding.
14. All early childhood educators and teachers being paid at parity with teachers and other workers in the public school sector consistent with their levels of qualification.
15. All childcare staff being recognised, respected and valued for their contribution to the community, society and the world and for the complexity and importance of the work they do.
16. All Early Childhood teaching staff having:
16.1 Early Childhood or other appropriate tertiary qualifications;
16.2 Those who do not being supported to achieve such qualifications;
16.3 Childhood service providers recognising this as a necessary professional pathway;
16.4 Where applicable, prior learning such as educational qualifications from international universities and educational institutions being taken into consideration.
17. Staff being paid in accordance with the successful completion of tertiary attainments with the government recognising and supporting this as a long-term strategy for childhood education.
18. Professional development and clear pathways of advancement being seen as an ongoing and essential part of supporting workers in the sector. This should take the form not only of providing more pathways for promotion, but to allow for development in specialised areas such as fine art, physical education, or the sciences as well as mandatory updates of core skills.
19. Gradual phasing out of the two tier system of education provision (Teacher and Cert III/Diploma) so that there is less class division in centres.
20. Working conditions and pay being fair and equitable, with provision for annual leave, long service leave and other entitlements being protected as part of the award structure.
21. It is not the responsibility of a worker to pay ongoing costs for accreditation, and these costs should be borne by management or government.
22. Workers should be recompensed for the work they do outside of hours in order to meet regulatory demands and compose lesson plans.
23. Workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, intersex, or otherwise not conforming to sexual or gender norms should not be persecuted at work. This includes opposing religious exemptions to discrimination that place those educators who work for faith based organisations at risk.
Accreditation and operational policies
Regulating bodies currently represent the legal and financial regulation of childhood services. The practice of basing the legal and financial regulation of early childhood services purely on quantitative measures is inappropriate given the services are essentially qualitative in nature. The Greens NSW will work towards:
24. Within these national standards, provisions being made for cultural specificity and locally controlled production of childhood services that take into account the broad range of environments in which children develop, such as urban, rural and indigenous settings.
25. Regulations, standards and National Accreditation Services being based on what is equitable, socially and ecologically sustainable for children, families and community rather than on an attempt to create minimum standards for childhood services.
26. Government funding being first and foremost directed to creating high quality public early childhood services for all children. Where funding of non-government providers is essential to ensure that all children have access to appropriate services, then funding being directed only to suitably regulated ‘not-for-profit’ childhood service providers. ‘Not-for-profit’ being defined as early childhood services that operate as part of a community and are not primarily motivated by the desire to make a profit.
27. Increased funding and investment in regulatory bodies with the aim of allowing them to fulfill a mentoring rather than correctional role.
28. Indigenous children, families, and communities being recognised and valued for the different skills and ways of learning and belonging they bring to education. Indigenous communities being supported to ensure equitable and culturally sensitive access to education resources, so that indigenous children are able to learn in their own communities within different systems of knowledge.
29. Educators from Indigenous communities should – if they so choose - be given support to provide early childhood education for children of their own community to allow for Indigenous-led centres.
30. All education centres including those catering to non-indigenous children placing understanding of, and respect for, indigenous knowledge as a fundamental part of daily educational practice., with Indigenous communities being resourced to implement such educational programs.
Refugees and asylum seekers
31. Refugee and asylum- seeker children being given the same rights as adult asylum-seeker refugees, with no refugee or asylum-seeker children being held in mandatory detention.
32. Early childhood educators be offered appropriate trauma training so as to best support the development of children with experience as refugees, and in particular those who have been detainees.
Children with disability
The Greens NSW will work towards:
33. Children with disability being able to access all forms of public education, with increased public funds being allocated to ensure that their rights are integrated into the built and natural environment of the centre, as well as its curriculum planning and learning practices.
34. The important place of children with disability in the education system being recognised because the aim of education is to encourage civic participation by all children, families/carers and staff.
Parents with disability
Parents with disability have an important role in Early Childhood education. The Greens NSW will work towards:
35. Parents with disability being recognised for the value they bring;
36. Meetings with staff, curriculum planning and pedagogical practice being designed so that parents with disability can be informed about and involved in the education of their children.
Family of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
37. Cultures and languages of all families being acknowledged as part of the curriculum and everyday practice of Early Childhood educational services.
38. Where possible bi-lingual education being made available because instruction in multiple languages makes a valuable contribution to the education system and society.
Families of diverse family structure
39. Diverse families, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, sole parent, nuclear, blended, extended and step families having the same rights to access early childhood education programs and being represented in curriculum content whether such families are present in the service or not.
40. Children who are trans or otherwise of diverse genders should be supported by education providers in their expression of their gender without exemption.
41. A new domain of child development to be introduced to the EYLF: Aesthetics. This will teach an appreciation of the natural world primarily and therefore motivation for it's care which will require mandatory time spent in natural environments. Also an appreciation for quality in human creativity and production.
42. Ecological sustainability to be a primary goal of centre management. This to be included in tertiary ECE courses from 2020. Also to be mandatory unit of professional development for existing teachers and educators.