Learning through play at the heart of Liberals’ early childhood plan

Jan 30, 2021 | Education, Health, Plan, State News, WA Labor

Zak Kirkup and the Liberals will invest more than $53 million in a plan to boost early childhood education across Western Australia which includes building an extra 10 Child and Parent Centres and introducing face-to-face speech pathology services directly into government schools for the first time. 

“This commitment is part of our plan to create a better, brighter tomorrow for all West Australians by investing in the early years of learning that our kids deserve,” WA Liberal leader Zak Kirkup said. 

“We’re committed to giving our children the best possible start in life and having a package of early learning initiatives that are supported by both parents and experts will form an important part of their educational journey. 

“Not only will we develop a Play Based Learning Strategy, we’ll invest in music education, speech pathology services and build another 10 Child and Parent Centres, which are important one-stop-shops for families seeking early childhood development programmes and advice.” 

Shadow Minister for Education and Training Donna Faragher said the plan was an investment in the future of young West Australians. 

“We know the early years are critical for a child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, which is why we are committing over $53 million to enhance the early years of learning,” Mrs Faragher said. 

“Research indicates that the teaching and nurturing young children receive during their first years of life significantly increases their likelihood of future success, so it is vital we support them with the appropriate investment.” 

The Liberals’ $53 million Early Childhood Learning Policy includes: 

  • $30 million for an additional 10 Child and Parent Centres, providing an integrated one-stop-shop for families to access a range of early childhood development programmes, services and advice. 
  • An additional $8 million trial program to expand the Department of Education’s Language Outreach Service to offer face-to-face speech pathology support for students and teachers within selected government primary schools. Approximately eighty schools would be included within the initial two-year trial period with a mid-trial review to evaluate the program. 
  • The development of a WA Play Based Learning Strategy to highlight the importance of play, particularly in the early years, alongside other evidence-based learning practices. 
  • An additional $10 million to expand the Playground Equipment and Shade Structures Program to $2 million per annum and an increase in the maximum grant amount from $25,000 to $30,000 to provide more support to schools over five years. 
  • The development of a 10-year Music Education Strategy to increase awareness of the important value of music education in a child’s learning development. 
  • An additional $5 million for the establishment of an annual $1 million Music Equipment Grants Program for primary and district high schools to purchase musical instruments over five years. 
  • An immediate reversal of the McGowan Labor Government’s unfair decision to increase the enrolment threshold for community kindergartens to access grant funding and staff which has created a great deal of uncertainty and put some community kindergartens at risk of closure. 
  • A full reinstatement of Department of Education funding, which was cut by the McGowan Government, to the WA Gould League. This will support the continued operation of the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre which provides significant education programmes to school children every year. 
  • A review of the current exemption requirements and process to the school starting age with the aim of providing greater clarity, consistency and transparency for parents. 
  • This early learning package will be complemented by the $76 million commitment to expand school psychology services which includes an additional 100 school psychologists in government schools announced as part of the Liberals’ mental health plan.