Universal Pre-Kindergarten

The centrepiece of our Early Years Commitment is the NSW Government’s investment of $5.8 billion to introduce a new universal pre-Kindergarten year in the year before primary school, for every child by the end of the decade.

International evidence shows that quality preschool provides the foundation for a child’s long-term success.

We want NSW to become the leading state for children benefiting from high-quality education and care.

Universal pre-Kindergarten will transform and build on our current preschool system to ensure all children, families, and communities in NSW experience pre-Kindergarten as a shared, life-changing start to their education journey.

Every family in NSW is entitled to world-class, affordable, quality education, regardless of where they live, how much money they have or their experience in life.

Universal pre-Kindergarten will mean no child misses out.

It will also mean families will have access to no cost early learning for their children in the year before school, at the hours, days and locations that work for them – and it will include models of care beyond 9am-3pm for families that need it.

Universal pre-Kindergarten will be a game-changer for NSW families and children.

This investment will also ensure that children with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds will receive the support they need to thrive.

A quality early learning experience for every child

Universal pre-Kindergarten will offer a high-quality preschool program that focuses on supporting children to be successful, competent and capable lifelong learners in the year before school.

It will continue to implement the valuable play-based model of early childhood education and care that focuses on physical, cognitive, social, emotional and language development.

With our other investments in attracting and retaining early childhood teachers and educators, universal pre-Kindergarten will also continue to help lift the quality of preschool for children in NSW and better integrate with Australia’s largest school system.

Supporting seamless transitions

Strong partnerships will be built between pre-Kindergarten and schools so that schools are ready for children when they begin Kindergarten.

The program will support children and teachers to build relationships and connections, and help make the transition from preschool to school as seamless as possible.

A model that works for working families

A key objective of Universal Pre-Kindergarten is to provide families with access to no-cost, high quality preschool, for more hours and more days per week, on days and at locations that work for them.

It will end the double drop off for more families with preschool aged children by increasing on-school-site provision.

It will also include models that incorporate care beyond the hours of 9am and 3pm to support working families.

Consultation and design

We know working together is the best way to ensure universal pre-Kindergarten will work for children and families.

The department will consult extensively and begin work with the early childhood education and care sector, schools, families and other experts to develop, design, trial and implement the best model for pre-Kindergarten in NSW.

We want this to work for everyone.

In addition to our consultation and design process, we will run pilots in selected locations to help us understand the best ways to introduce universal pre-Kindergarten by the end of the decade, in 2030

Have your say

Consultation has begun with universal pre-Kindergarten public submissions held in October 2022.

The department is currently reviewing the online submissions received from members of the public, schools and services to inform the next stages of consultation and design.

This is just the start of the journey. We are having ongoing conversations with the ECEC sector, schools, families and communities to hear your views, experiences and opinions on the best models for pre-Kindergarten that meets the needs of all children in NSW.

Universal pre-Kindergarten pilots

In 2023, the Department of Education is taking the next steps with early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to design the universal pre-Kindergarten year.

A series of pilots will be run with approved ECEC services and providers across NSW to capture the diverse needs of children, families and communities and test different approaches to pre-Kindergarten.

Find out more about the Universal pre-Kindergarten pilots.

The difference between universal pre-kindergarten and preschool

Universal pre-Kindergarten is a high-quality preschool program which will be made available at no cost, for 5 days a week, for every child in NSW in the critical year before school.

Like preschool, universal pre-Kindergarten may be delivered in early childhood centres as well as on school sites. It will be a play-based learning program delivered by qualified early childhood teachers that focuses on physical, cognitive, social, emotional and language development.

This is a program that will support children to build connections and become lifelong learners before they start school.

We continue to be committed to ensuring all children in NSW have access to a quality preschool experience in the 2 years before school. In addition to our support of 3 year old preschool in community preschools, we are now also investing $64.1 million over 2 years from 2023 to support long day care services to enable more 3-year-old children to participate in a preschool program as part of our Affordable Preschool initiative.

Will pre-Kindergarten be compulsory?

We will work alongside the early childhood education and care sector and schools – and consult families – to determine the best model for universal pre-Kindergarten.

We recognise there are potential benefits for ensuring increased participation and attendance in preschool education, but we also understand that families value choice in this matter.

Who will run pre-Kindergarten and where will it be located?

The Government’s ambition is to make the provision of universal pre-Kindergarten a reality right across NSW.

Where consultation shows it is needed, and where it works for communities and schools, universal pre-Kindergarten will be delivered on school sites.

We will also engage closely with Catholic and Independent Schools and other staekholders on the opportunities to partner with the NSW Government to deliver pre-Kindergarten.

The long day care sector, community preschools and Department of Education preschools will all continue to provide early childhood education and care, including preschool programs, once universal pre-Kindergarten is rolled out.

Responding to the research

The need for increased investment in preschool has been identified as a key issue by academics, think tanks, the early childhood education and care sector, economists, unions and – most recently – the NSW Government’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Review panel.

The NSW Government is proud to be able to respond with this historic investment in the development of a new pre-Kindergarten year for every child. We are committed to working with key stakeholders on the details of this major new reform.

Case study

Full-Day Kindergarten in Ontario, Canada

Ontario in Canada is leading the way in early childhood education, offering a full day, 5 day a week, pre-Kindergarten program for all 4 and 5 year old children on school sites since 2010. 90% of 4 and 5 year olds attend.

Full-Day Kindergarten is located alongside primary schools, which means that children become familiar with the primary school and with primary teachers, aiding a smooth transition into ‘big school’.

Full-Day Kindergarten uses a preschool specific curriculum, inspired by the Australian Early Years Learning Framework, with a play-based approach, delivered by teachers and early childhood educators.

It is unique because its format accommodates the different needs of families. Many public schools integrate a before and after school program – an extension to the preschool day led by an early childhood teacher (often the same teacher that delivers the preschool program) - providing a seamless experience for the children.

Vastly improved outcomes

Ontario’s pre-Kindergarten program has shown some impressive results for children and their families. Studies show that children who had completed the program were better prepared for school and showed greater self-regulation than children who had not. Canadian parents also reported children who attended Full Day Kindergarten were better prepared for school and had stronger academic and social skills than those who did not.

Families also said that Full Day Kindergarten has improved their ability to balance family and work responsibilities.


More information

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To provide feedback or ask us a question about the Early Years Commitment please contact:

Early Years Commitment team

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