Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare Kate Ellis has commended the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 to the House of Representatives and spoken to counteract derogatory statements by columnist Judith Sloan and others about early learning and child care.
Ellis said that the Federal Government is the first in Australia’s history to give importance to the early childhood education and care sector. She reported that there are more than one million children enrolled in child care at any given time. She challenged critics claiming people will be fleeing the sector and pulling children out of care, saying that the numbers of children being placed in child care grew after the government had established and implemented policies to boost affordability for child care.
Responding to claims by blogger Judith Sloan that childhood educators are “dimwits”, as well as Member for Higgins Kelly O’Dwyer’s statements that the National Quality Framework (NQF) was based on “nothing in particular”, Member for Aston Alan Tudge’s view that child care quality improvements have no discernible benefits, and Member for Herbert Ewen Jones’s opinion that Townsville early childhood educators who campaign to be valued and paid fairly were chasing the dollar instead of doing their job out of love for it, Ellis said that the NQF was based on decades of international and domestic research.
Ellis said that the research they found clearly stated that the first five years of a child’s life are essential for their development, as it is during this period when 90 per cent of brain development occurs. Ellis said that it is therefore crucial to have a high-quality early learning education for children.
To raise the quality of education, Ellis said that staff-to-child ratios as well as qualification standards should be improved, as higher staff-to-child ratios have been shown to expand language skills, increase literacy skills, improve general knowledge and enhance concentration and focus. The study also shows that qualifications and training of staff can affect the quality of education of children, and educators with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood are shown to have greater progress in education and results in fewer accidents for children.
This is why, Ellis stated, that early childhood workers should no longer be categorised with babysitters and should be appreciated and valued more for what they do. She further pointed out that research facts should decide the future policy for child education. Ellis added that malicious slander from conservatives regarding early childhood education should end now.
“Those opposite must abandon their Judith Sloan-like dinosaur views,” she said.
Ellis stressed that everyone should recognise early childhood educators for their work and that she is proud to commend the new bill about the Early Years Quality Fund to the House of Representatives.
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