Universal Pre-Kindergarten will ensure every child in NSW has access to an affordable, high-quality play-based early learning program, up to five days a week, in the year before school.
Universal Pre-Kindergarten is a once in a generation opportunity to ensure every child gets the best start in life.
We're planting the seeds to grow and transform preschool education in NSW, investing $5.8 billion to build on our early learning system and guarantee a year of quality learning for every child before they start school.
We're working hard to ensure every child and every family in NSW will have access to a year of affordable, quality early learning in the year before primary school by the end of the decade.
We're calling it universal pre-Kindy. Pre-Kindy will continue to implement the valuable, play-based approach to early childhood education, so children can develop the social, emotional, and cognitive skills they need to build connections and make a successful transition to school. Pre-Kindy will be free for families and it will be offered for up to 5 days a week.
We want this to work for everyone, so we're designing pre-Kindy in consultation with families, early childhood services, schools and local communities.
Why not take this opportunity to have your say?
The Early Years Commitment. Brighter Beginnings, Big Futures.
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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.
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.
Pre-Kindergarten will mean no child misses out.
It will also mean families will have access to affordable 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.
This program 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
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 other investments in attracting and retaining early childhood teachers and educators, Pre-Kindergarten will 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 Pre-Kindergarten is to provide families with access to affordable, 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 Pre-Kindergarten will work for children and families.
The department is consulting extensively and working 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.
The department has created an online form to capture interest and feedback on the design and delivery of Universal Pre-Kindergarten in NSW.
Please note submitting this form does not guarantee that your organisation or school will be funded or prioritised for Universal Pre-Kindergarten.
You can ask us a question about the Early Years Commitment or Universal Pre-Kindergarten by emailing EarlyYearsCommitment@det.nsw.edu.au.
Universal Pre-Kindergarten pilots
This year, the Department of Education is taking the next steps with early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to design the 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, 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.
The department continues to be committed to ensuring all children in NSW have access to a quality preschool experience in the 2 years before school.
You can find out more on the Start Strong for families webpage.
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 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?
Where consultation shows it is needed, and where it works for communities and schools, 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 department 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 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.
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.
Mariam is invited to a consultation about the state’s new Pre-Kindergarten year. Mariam is asked to share Elissa’s experience with preschool – what she loves and what she wants to be different. Mariam is also asked about what she needs as a mother. Mariam mentions that she would like Elissa to attend more days of preschool, but she has trouble paying the fees.
4 years later
Mariam’s second child, Rita, attends Pre-Kindergarten Monday to Friday in one of the first new services to be introduced. Rita loves to be at the same location as her big sister Elissa and can’t wait to attend the ‘big school’ next year.
Kevin and Nick are planning a move from Ontario, Canada, to Australia with their little boy, Charlie. Kevin and Nick understand how important preschool will be for Charlie’s learning journey. In Ontario, all 4 year olds can attend Pre-Kindergarten at their local school, and Kevin and Nick are nervous that Charlie will miss out on this when they move to Australia.
4 years later
Kevin and Nick make the great choice to move to NSW. Charlie is attending Pre-Kindergarten at his local primary school, one of the first to take up the new model, from Monday to Friday. He has made many new friends and is happy to know that they will all be going to big school together. Charlie has also met many of the Primary School teachers and is excited to learn with them in ‘big school.’
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To provide feedback or ask us a question about the Early Years Commitment please contact:
Early Years Commitment team