Early childhood education: Pathways to quality and equity for all children

Alison Elliott

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. Although a good beginning is well recognised as the foundation for future development, health and wellbeing, not only in the early years, but also throughout life, policy and practice in early education and care in Australia still lack focus and integration. Using metaphors of patchworks and crossroads, the author discusses this issue, outlining problems and framing potential prospects. The patchwork metaphor captures the mix of types of provision, regulatory regimes and policy contexts that reflect the historical origins of the field and the contemporary realities of early childhood education in the Australian federation. The background to the patchwork is the divide between care and education that has historically characterized the field. Elliott points out that the divide stems from the emergence in the late 19th century, of the kindergarten movement with its focus on early learning and preparation for school and on day nurseries with a charitable and welfare focus. These divergent paths have resulted in different systems for managing and regulating provision of early childhood services. The crossroads metaphor captures the sense of choice, highlighting the need for regaining momentum to address the educational and developmental needs of young children, to move forward, so that Australian children can enjoy equitable access to high-quality early education, and so Australian society can reap the social benefits. Elliott advocates that the way forward requires placing learning and development at the center of policies and practices in early childhood, with a strengthened commitment to supports for families. (Contains 2 figures and 8 tables.)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-75
    Number of pages75
    JournalAustralian Education Review
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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