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Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) today welcomed the $1.6 billion four-year funding investment in approved kindergarten programs in the 2021-22 Federal Budget, saying it will give services and families certainty.

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said the funding would benefit more than 110 Queensland independent schools that deliver an approved kindergarten education program in the year before Prep, either through a sessional kindergarten or long day care service.

“After a number of single-year funding extensions, the Budget announcement will give approved kindergarten services, their teachers and parents certainty to plan ahead in the short and medium term,” Mr Robertson said.

“Research has consistently confirmed the critical role the early years of education play in a child’s physical, social and emotional development and building their early literacy and numeracy skills,” he said.

“With data from the latest 2018 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) showing 1 in 5 Australian children enter their first year of school with at least one developmental vulnerability, this funding is even more critical.” Schools are currently taking part in the 2021 AEDC which commenced this term.

Mr Robertson said an independent review of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education commissioned by the nation’s Education Ministers in 2020 found the program had been a “major success”.

“The review found the proportion of children enrolled in an approved kindergarten program for the targeted 600 hours a year had increased from 12% in 2008 to 96% in 2018, reflecting a growth in service capacity and community awareness of the benefits of early learning.”

ISQ will work with the Australian and Queensland Governments on the new agreement and appropriate outcome measures to lift kindergarten attendance and school readiness.

Mr Robertson said the sector also welcomed the Australian Government’s extension of fee relief for organisations on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) - which included more than 80 independent schools approved to offer international education programs to student visa holders.

In addition the sector welcomed wage subsidy incentives to encourage industry to employ more apprentices and trainees.

Mr Robertson said the Budget also confirmed the Australian Government’s ongoing role as the majority public funder of non-government schools and the minority funder of state schools which receive most of their public funding from State and Territory Governments.

“ISQ will continue to advocate for the needs of independent school communities as they transition to a new Federal Government funding model based on parental income from 2022.”

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