A preschool program is a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher primarily aimed at children in the year before they commence full-time schooling, irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Programs may be delivered in a variety of service settings including separate preschools or kindergartens, long day care centres, in association with a school etc.
The terms most commonly used to describe preschool programs in states and territories are:
- Kindergarten – Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania.
- Kindergarten or Preschool – Victoria, South Australia.
- Preschool – New South Wales, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory.
A preschool program may or may not be delivered in such a way that meets the Universal Access goal. The requirements for Universal Access are listed below.
The National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education is a commitment to joint Commonwealth, State and Territory action to deliver universal access to quality early childhood education in the year before full-time schooling.
Universal access means that every child, in the year before they commence full-time school, has access to a preschool program that is:
• delivered by a four year university qualified early childhood teacher in accordance with the National Early Years Learning Framework
• available for at least 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year
• delivered across a diversity of settings that meets the needs of parents and at a cost that does not present a barrier to participation.
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