Hybrid program brings learning to remote preschoolers

A partnership between isolated schools and School of the Air is bringing quality education to our littlest learners.

A school site with balloons on the fence A school site with balloons on the fence
Image: Removing the barriers of distance: Ivanhoe Central School welcomed preschoolers on to the site today as part of a new program.

The littlest learners living in remote NSW now have better access to quality early childhood education with three new flexible learning programs in Ivanhoe, Louth and Pooncarie.

The flexible approach will allow bespoke delivery of programs for children in remote parts of the state, including engagement through School of the Air and partnerships with local schools.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the NSW Government was providing support for children and families in the most remote parts of NSW to enable children to have easy access to a quality education.

“This is a win for our little ones in the regions and I am excited that they will have the same opportunities as their city counterparts, despite living in some of the most remote parts of the state,” Mr Toole said.

“We know that this will have enormous benefits and long-term impacts for the rest of their lives and help to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning.”

Located in the far west of NSW with a population of around 200, the town of Ivanhoe is home to one of the state’s newest preschool programs, with additional communities expected to take up the opportunity in 2022.

Two days per week, preschoolers at Ivanhoe will participate in both face-to-face learning and online learning through School of the Air.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said this was part of an ongoing commitment from the NSW Government to increase universal access to quality preschool in remote areas of the state.

“It is important every child in NSW has access to a quality early childhood education, no matter their background or location,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The flexible learning programs are part of the Rural and Remote Education Strategy we established to ensure that all children in rural and remote communities have access to quality early childhood education in the year before school.”

Ivanhoe Central School principal Greg Edwards said the concept of the preschool program on site had been embraced by the small town and said he hoped it would attract more people to live there.

“Having access to preschool is essential for our kids and helps them to start their first year of school with a strong foundation,” Mr Edwards said.

“Parents have told me how excited they are for the program to begin and how easy it will make their lives having it located right here on school grounds.”

The program is also available to children in Pooncarie and Louth who commenced learning at their new preschools this week.

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