Effective approaches for removing barriers for children to access early learning in the year before Kindergarten

Simon Hammond, Michael Dempsey 

1Department Of Education Tasmania, Glenorchy, Australia,

Working Togethersupporting early learning is a targeted Tasmanian Government initiative opening up opportunities for eligible children to participate in free, quality early learning in the year before kindergarten. This co-designed pre-school initiative is making a difference to child, family, service and system outcomes. Most significant change case studies along with data dashboards provide insight into some of the barriers and enablers experienced by families and the kinds of interventions that are supporting participation and wellbeing.

AEDC data assisted in identifying the geographic areas to establish this place-based initiative. Working in partnership with early childhood education and care partners, our shared purpose is to support confident and creative children, to thrive in strong, connected communities.

An independent evaluation of the 2019 pilot found early indications of positive improvements for children in areas including relationships (of both children and their parents/carers), social competence, communication, skill development, school readiness and wellbeing. The evaluation found improvements in social competence – such as taking turns and developing patience – speech and ability to communicate were strongly evidence across all data sources.

The Tasmanian Council of Social Service is undertaking qualitative evaluation conversations with the parents and carers of participating children. At the end of the pilot, 18 out of 19 parents interviewed rated their overall satisfaction as five out of five, where five was the highest rating. Conversations with 12 Pilot families after their children had commenced kindergarten in 2020 concluded Working Together had given both parents and children the tools needed to succeed in school. They all rated Working Together as five out of five in helping them prepare for school.

Working Together is achieving considerable success in supporting families to overcome barriers to participation in early learning. Of the 119 children participating in 2020, only five were already accessing early learning.

 


Biography:

Simon Hammond is the Project Manager for Strategic Projects and Initiatives, within the Tasmanian Department of Education’s Early Years Projects and Partnerships area. He brings a passion for outcomes focused, client led service design and delivery developed through his time on the Tasmanian Government’s four-year Strong Families, Safe Kids project.

Simon is currently responsible for the delivery of the Working Together – supporting early learning program amongst other early years focused initiatives.

Michael Dempsey is the Manager of Early Years Research and Data in the Tasmanian Department of Education.  He has been involved in the Early Childhood Education and Care data collection and research since 2009 with a focus on gaining policy and practice insights through data linkage to remove systemic barriers. Michael is the Tasmanian representative on the AEDC National Committee.