The department operates 101 preschools with 133 classes across NSW. 61 preschools are located in the Sydney metropolitan area and 40 are in regional and rural areas, including distance education preschool classes in Dubbo School of Distance Education and Broken Hill School of the Air. Eleven preschools are designated specifically for Aboriginal children and another 13 are in Aboriginal communities or in schools where there is a significantly high number of Aboriginal students enrolled.
It is the department's intent that preschools provide:
- for the most disadvantaged children in the local community
- universal access to high-quality early childhood education in the year prior to school.
Preschools provide secure, positive and stimulating learning environments to ensure 'all children make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school' (DoE Strategic Plan 2018-2022).
Universal Access to early childhood education ensures that every child can participate in a quality preschool program in the year before school. Programs are to be delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher for 15 hours per week or 600 hours per year, with a focus on Aboriginal, vulnerable or disadvantaged children.
The Leading and operating department preschool guidelines (PDF 4.5MB - staff only) support the leadership, and operations of department preschools. They:
- assist schools to clarify the requirements of the National Quality Framework
- provide guidance and advice for preschools
- scaffold preschool teams to review and update their local procedures
- detail how preschools work with School Services, Early Learning and the regulatory authority.