Analysis

ABC children’s radio station opportunity to shift community attitudes to early learning

A new, national radio station overseen by the ABC represents a huge opportunity to shift the conversation in Australia away from “childcare” to early childhood education.

The ABC has today launched a new radio station for children in the first five years and their families, and has described it as “aligned” with the Early Years Learning Framework.

The ABC has a long-running and extensive back-catalogue of characters, songs, stories and programs to draw on – including their flagship early-learning television program Play School.

In press releases covering the launch, the ABC have highlighted the connections that the radio station will develop between the principles of the Early Years Learning Framework. This might not seem like a huge deal, but it’s worth celebrating for the early childhood education sector.

The ABC has a huge reach. It is a publicly-funded and highly-trusted source of news and entertainment for a majority of Australians. While the goals of the station may be mostly to keep children entertained, ensuring that research-based early learning principles are embedded from the outset means that these principles can reach a much wider audience.

In short, this is a huge opportunity for the sector – and for the community at large.

We know that family attitudes to the importance of early childhood education are not fantastic – even the families that are attending early childhood centres don’t have a firm grasp on how important quality is.

An all-day digital radio station, underpinned with strong educational principles, could provide another – and much larger – voice to highlight how important early childhood education is to the entire community.

The ABC have stated that a range of consultations and trials, including within early childhood centres, were involved in the creation of ABC Kids Listen. We can only hope that those early childhood centres strongly encouraged the ABC to include programs that highlight how important the first five years are.

The ABC is a trusted source of news and views in Australia. If they moved the conversation away from childcare to early childhood education, from childcare workers to educators, that could play a huge role in shifting the overall attitudes of the community.

The Federal Government and Department of Education are determined to remove education from any discussion about early childhood centres. The ABC could be a force to counter those backwards steps.

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