Response to the inquiry, which aims to identify ways to make early childhood education and care more affordable, accessible, equitable and high-quality - and reduces barriers to workforce participation and supports children’s learning and development.
Early childhood education and care for children from birth to five years can take many forms and although there are several large-scale data sets available on the early childhood sector, the complexity of the sector means this data is often misunderstood or misinterpreted and there remains a limited overview of the early childhood education and care system.
Based on data provided by the associations of Independent schools in 2022, ISA estimates that two thirds of Independent schools provide early childhood services, which overall equates to approximately 790 schools.
The majority of Independent school providers operate early learning services for 3- to 5-year-olds. Some Independent schools operate both long day care and sessional kindergarten/preschool, or may have outside school hours care for both preschool and school-aged children.
Key challenges affecting the sector include equitable access, affordability, inclusion support, funding, workforce shortages and improving developmental outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from vulnerable and disadvantaged families.