Queensland Department of Education and Training
The Office for Early Childhood Education and Care, within the Queensland Department of Education and Training, has responsibility for a range of significant reforms in the early years.
Under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, Queensland has committed that every child will have access to a quality early childhood education program, in the year before school by 2014.
This commitment aligns with the State's commitment to establish up to 240 additional kindergarten services by 2014 as part of Toward Q2: Tomorrow's Queensland, setting the target for "All children to have access to a quality early childhood education, so they are ready for school".
To achieve these goals, the Office works closely with stakeholders in the early childhood education and care sectors to implement the national and state reform agenda, including:
- the implementation of the Early Childhood Education and Care National Quality Framework (NQF);
- the implementation of the National Early Childhood Development Strategy - Investing in the Early Years;
- provision of funding to long day care centres through the 2010 Kindergarten Pilot Program to deliver an approved kindergarten program as part of their service to better meet the needs of working parents;
- introduction of a new kindergarten funding scheme to direct funding to children and families in greatest need;
- introduction of a new Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline which aims to maximise learning outcomes for children who participate in kindergarten programs in Queensland and provides specific advice to teachers about the development of kindergarten programs and monitoring of children's progress;
- establish four Early Years Centres around the state to offer integrated early childhood education and care, family support and health services for Queensland families
- establish five Early Childhood Education and Care Centres around the state to provide a range of early childhood services including long day care, family day care, kindergarten or school-age care, with some offering other family support services integrated with these programs (in most cases, these centres are refurbished decommissioned former preschools); and
- establish ten Indigenous Children and Family Centres (funded by the Australian Government), to provide quality early childhood education, care, parenting and family support services targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
The Office also has responsibility for the regulation and licensing of early childhood services across Queensland, including the introduction of compliance measures aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability of the early childhood education and care sector.
The Department of Education and Training will provide $2.575M in funding and in-kind support to the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project to research the effectiveness of early education and care programs throughout Queensland.
The Department of Education and Training administers a comprehensive system of public schools and TAFE institutes across Queensland. Almost 500,000 students attend State primary, secondary, and special schools, and other Departmental sites. Similarly, TAFE institutes provide vocational education and training programs to many thousands of Queenslanders in various locations across the State. The Department also provides regulatory and other support to non-State schools in Queensland and Queensland-based universities.
The Department is a major employer with over 80,000 individuals employed in various roles across school communities and TAFE sites.
From 2008, the Department introduced the first full cohort of students into the preparatory year of schooling or prep which represented a significant milestone in the history of Queensland education.
The Department is currently embarking on an exciting program of educational reform, with a Green Paper – A Flying Start for Queensland Children – released earlier this year to stimulate debate on further change. Proposals being considered include further initiatives to improve young children's development, wellbeing and school readiness with a particular focus on developing early literacy skills. It is anticipated that a White Paper on these and other reforms will be completed later in 2010.