Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilots FAQs

Universal pre-Kindergarten is not a new year of school. It will be a high-quality preschool program that focuses on cognitive, social, and emotional development so that children learn to build connections and are prepared to start school.

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 early childhood education and care to school as seamless as possible.

Throughout the pilots, successful applicants will identify and trial key elements of universal pre-Kindergarten, exploring what works for their community and how the needs of local children can be met by pre-Kindergarten.

Successful strategies implemented during the pilots will be used to inform the program design for the broader state-wide roll out of pre-Kindergarten by 2030.

Following the pilots, an independent evaluation will be undertaken, and findings may be shared where possible.

The department continues to have ongoing conversations with families, communities, the ECEC sector and schools to ensure universal pre-Kindergarten is designed to meet the needs of every child in NSW. If you would like to register your interest to be involved, please contact EarlyYearsCommitment@det.nsw.edu.au.

Pilots can be on school or off school sites. We are not pre-determining the location of universal pre-Kindergarten pilots. We will be consulting with ECEC providers, teachers, schools and local communities about what works for their community.

Approved ECEC services and providers who meet the eligibility criteria are invited to apply to participate in the pilot.

This first stage of pilots is expected to run from late February to December 2023.

Learnings from the first stage of pilots next year will guide future design and trial work that will be considered for 2024.

We will work closely with communities to determine future locations and approaches for pilots.

2023 Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilots: Mt Druitt, Wagga Wagga, Kempsey-Nambucca and Bourke-Cobar-Coonamble

The 4 locations were selected as pilot regions to capture the diverse needs of children, families and communities across NSW.

The department has used available data to identify areas of greatest need and demand, and has selected the four locations across metropolitan, inner regional, outer regional and remote regions.

The department will work closely with the 4 selected locations on what works for their community, and how the pilots will look for them.

Eligible services and providers in these regions will be invited to apply to participate in the pilot, with Expressions of Interest (EOI) open from 14 November until 16 December 2022.

The eligibility and assessment criteria contained in the 2023 Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Guidelines should be carefully considered before an EOI is submitted.

Services and providers will be informed of the outcome by early 2023.

Approved early childhood education and care services, under the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations or the Supplementary Provisions Act, that are in the four pilot locations and which meet the eligibility criteria are able to participate.

Following the EOI closing date, the department will assess the information provided by services and providers against the eligibility criteria.

The Department will assess the pilot applications and determine the number of services selected to participate and the funding they can access based on eligibility, spending rules, program priorities and available funding.

Successful applicants will participate in the first stage of pilots which is expected to run from late February to December 2023.

Learnings from the first phase of pilots next year will guide future design and trial work that will be considered for 2024.

We will work closely with communities to determine future locations and approaches for pilots.

The department will work with successful applicants to ensure they can manage the additional work required to participate in the pilot.

A key consideration in the pilot will be to minimise additional workload for ECEC staff.

There will be funds available to support early childhood teachers and educators to engage in the design stage and to support trialling of pre-Kindergarten features.

$30.51 hourly rate per teacher/educator will be available for up to 4 hours per week non-contact time backfill.

This payment, based on award rates, will allow ECEC educators to take part in design workshops, interviews or other engagement activities.

The department will also provide a once off recognition payment of $100 to the ECEC service (per educator/teacher) attending engagement activities with the department to inform design of features during the Design Stage.

The funds will cover up to two educators per activity, depending on the nature of the service and the design activities.

Families and educators will be invited to take part in community engagement and provide regular feedback opportunities throughout the pilots.

Families will be able to choose if their child participates in the pilots and will have the opportunity to provide regular feedback.

All approved services and providers that are eligible can apply to participate in the pilot.

Non-government schools in the pilot locations will also be invited to participate in community engagement opportunities to understand community needs and interests in pre-Kindergarten.

If a service is co-located on a non-government school site, it will not be eligible for funding under the pilot if the non-government school operates for profit within the meaning of section 83C of the Education Act 1990 (NSW), whilst in receipt of NSW government financial assistance.

Department of Education preschools

Department of Education preschools will be contacted directly with information on how they can express their interest to participate in the pilots.

The funding amounts, spending rules and assessment process for Department of Education preschools will be comparable.

Department of Education preschools do not need to submit their expression of interests on Smarty Grants.

Find more information and a guidance document on the Department preschools webpage.

Department preschools should contact the Early Learning earlylearning@det.nsw.edu.au or phone – 1300 083 698 with any questions.

Future universal pre-Kindergarten pilots

Learnings from the first stage of pilots next year will guide future design and trial work that will be considered for 2024.

The department will work closely with communities to determine future locations and approaches for pilots.

More information

Please contact the ECECD Information and Enquiries team on 1800 619 113 or email the Universal pre-Kindergarten team at prekindergarten@det.nsw.edu.au.

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