Last week was Early Learning Matters Week, our opportunity to come together and celebrate the amazing early learning sector and all the workforce within that sector. This year the theme was 'Learning through connection', and we had the opportunity to celebrate the way that connection in learning supports children, how developing a connection to family, communities, culture and place gives children a better understanding of their place in the world.
I've spoken many times in this chamber about my passion for early learning. It is absolutely clear to me, as it is to many others, that if you want to make a difference in the lives of children and their families the time to do that is in the early years. If we hold our fire until school age, it is too late. It is the early years between the ages of nought and five when critical brain connections are being formed in our children. Simple acts like counting our children's fingers and toes, singing them songs and engaging in play based learning are the keys to unlocking a whole world of opportunity and potential for those children as well as greater productivity for our nation.
To do that, we need to support children in accessing early learning education and care. That is part of what our cheaper childcare policy is about. It's about making sure that families, no matter their earning potential, have the opportunity to have their children engage in high-quality early learning and, therefore, have their children exposed to all those wonderful things, that magic which happens in an early learning service, when your child has the opportunity to learn and engage among other children and amongst our amazing educators, who do their jobs with such dedication and passion. There is a long way to go to make sure early learning gets the recognition and focus that it needs and, indeed, our workforce needs. It is my absolute passion in this place, and I won't rest until it is at the forefront and prioritised to the utmost within our education and care sector.