In NSW, Australia, universal access met with a fragmented system that has high fees, low participation rates and a three prong model of service delivery, which includes government, community and private services. This system has struggled to accommodate universal access, which is 15 hours per week of quality early childhood education for all 4 and 5 years old children, especially targeting those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This chapter provides a place-based analysis of the implementation of universal access in a New South Wales preschool in Australia. By successfully grappling with retargeted funding to support the implementation of universal access, the example preschool’s demographic composition has profoundly changed. It had disproportionately larger number of children requiring additional support bringing significant shifts in everyday pedagogical work. In order to continue providing a high quality education, the preschool relied on an already underappreciated and underpaid workforce’s resilience, unrecognized work and emotional labor. While the aim was primarily to give access to affordable and quality early education for disadvantaged children, through our analysis we demonstrate that universal access has a cunning ability to produce uneven progress across places and to continue reproducing inequality.
SOURCE: Millei, Z. & Gallagher, J. “The paradox of universal access: Alleviating or perpetuating inequity for children in NSW Australia.” The Policies of Childcare and Early Childhood Education, January 2020.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.