Best Start, Best Life
The department is delivering the ‘Best Start, Best Life’ reforms that will be transformational for early childhood education in Victoria over the next decade. The package of reforms represents a significant leap forward in terms of access and equity that every Victorian child under 5 will benefit from, regardless of their geographic location or family circumstances.
A key element of the reform is an expansion of Free Kinder programs for all 3- and 4-year-old children in participating services across Victoria, which was introduced in 2023. This includes both sessional kindergarten services and long day care kindergarten programs. A universal 30-hour a week program of play-based learning called Pre-Prep will roll out from 2025, and be fully delivered by 2032. The Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reform is well advanced, with children receiving between 5 and 15 hours per week across the state. The delivery of early childhood infrastructure by government and through grants to the sector is a key part of these reforms.
In addition, 50 Victorian government-owned and operated early learning centres are being established in areas of greatest need, making it easier for families to access high-quality, low-fee education and care services. This is a significant investment that will complement the efforts of the Australian Government – as the lead on childcare – to create a more affordable and available childcare system more broadly.
Providing all Victorian children with access to 2 years of play-based learning before school will have profound and long-lasting impacts. Evidence shows that more and earlier teacher-led early learning through kindergarten and Pre-Prep will lead to better educational and life outcomes, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged children. The economic benefits of the reforms are also compelling, with parents and carers better able to participate in the workforce, if they choose.
Over the last 8 years, the department has delivered an ambitious school reform agenda. This has included intensive teaching and learning supports, and an uplift in school workforce capability development, including the establishment of the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership.
Generational reforms in mental health and wellbeing and disability inclusion are underway and will begin to reach maturity and become embedded over the next few years. Significant senior secondary school pathways reforms to build the aspirations and skills of young people in Victoria have commenced, so that secondary schooling sets them up for future careers and meets the needs of the modern economy.
Future effort will build on these reforms to tackle enduring and new challenges to drive improved student outcomes. There will be a sustained focus on equity, so that all students can succeed.
There continues to be significant investment to strengthen the school system, so that schools and teachers are well equipped to support student achievement. We are providing a high-quality, contemporary learning environment through the delivery of modern infrastructure, including the building of 100 new schools, as well as significant new upgrades.
Boosting workforce supply and quality, while retaining and supporting our existing teachers, remains a priority. This includes giving our teachers opportunities to focus on teaching activities that provide the greatest benefit to students.