Unique preschool program closing the education divide in remote NSW

Located in far northwest New South Wales, the small country town of Carinda is the latest home to a unique early childhood education and care service that is allowing some of our littlest learners to attend preschool for the very first time.

Five pre-schoolers are enrolled in the program at Carinda Public School, which began this Term.

Instead of traditionally staying at home, the children can now access quality early childhood education and care at the school for up to three days a week (600hours a year), participating in both face-to-face play-based learning and online learning delivered by the Dubbo School of Distance Education (DSODE).

Principal of Carinda Public School, Jessica Dowling Brown said staff work collaboratively with experienced early childhood workers at DSODE to implement the program and are supplied with resources, such as puzzles, toys and games from their library.

“Our dedicated staff also prepare many activities to engage the children throughout the day, nurturing each child’s unique personality and encouraging them to thrive in all areas,“ she said.

“Staff and parents were almost as excited as the children for the start of the preschool program. It offers our rural families and children access to quality early childhood learning that they otherwise would not have previously accessed, due to their geographical location.”

“There are also so many great benefits to the program, it gives the children a great opportunity to develop essential social skills through being able to interact with other children their own age from across the state, setting them up to be socially well adjusted and lifelong learners.”

Three of these unique preschools already operate in the remote towns of Ivanhoe, Louth, and Hermidale. While the program also funds a centre-based preschool in Pooncarie.

Deputy Secretary from NSW Department of Education, Lisa Alonso Love said just over one quarter of four and five-year-old preschoolers in New South Wales are from regional, remote and rural areas.

“Vital programs like this will help stop the education divide between these children and their metropolitan counterparts and ensure they arrive at school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning.”

“This is a win for all children, regardless of circumstance, this approach also offers the chance to socialise and engage with other children and adults.”

The flexible learning programs are part the Department of Education’s commitment to ensure that all children regardless of their location, or circumstance have access to quality early childhood education in the year before school.

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