30/10/2014 - 13:14

Forrests push for national education strategy

30/10/2014 - 13:14

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Forrests push for national education strategy
Nicola Forrest (foreground) with stakeholders and education minister Peter Collier at launch of Challis Model report

Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation is pushing for a Western Australian early learning centre to become the template for a national strategy.

The foundation today launched research proving the beneficial outcomes of the unique early learning interventions taken at the Challis Early Childhood Education Centre in Armadale.

The report, which was commissioned by Minderoo, shows that for every dollar invested in early childhood education students will return at least $7 to the economy every year past education.

The state government has already committed $50 million to establishing 16 similar centres around WA (some of which are already up and running) and for operational costs over three years.

Education Minister Peter Collier today announced the state government was taking the Challis Model of childhood education as its preferred method of early childhood intervention and would open more centres in the future.

“We are going to adopt the Challis model and make sure this information doesn’t just become a dust collector on the shelf,” Mr Collier said at a function launching the research today.

“We want early intervention to become a habit.

“It will be like putting a bandaid on a broken arm unless you get that early intervention.”

Minderoo has supported the Challis centre financially for a number of years and has committed to another year of funding.

Mrs Forrest, the foundation’s chief executive, told Business News tenders were under way for measurement of the performance of the new centres around WA.

She said she hoped conversations with both state and federal governments would help communities realise the benefit of early intervention.

“The critical time to shape outcomes is from birth to three years, that is why strategic investment in these years is the biggest difference families, government and communities can make," Mrs Forrest said.

She said Minderoo was now focused on advocating for increased funding for early childhood intervention, developing partnerships with involved organisations and communities, funding and assisting in research proving outcomes and developing a national outcomes framework.

Telethon Kids Institute researcher Kim Clark, who was a lead author of the report, said ensuring the outcomes of early childhood programs were measured was one of the most important factors.

“The actual mechanics are something we don’t know a lot about,” Dr Clark said.

“We need more evidence about it … it’s just something that we don’t know a lot about and that makes the research done at Challis very important because its enabled evidence to be gathered.”

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