2.2 Early childhood education

Studies have demonstrated that children who attend early education programs perform better across many intellectual, cognitive, school and social domains in their early school years.

A preschool program is a structured, play-based learning program, delivered by a degree-qualified teacher.

Children commence full-time schooling in the preparatory year prior to Year 1 (this may be known by varying titles across states and territories, including kindergarten, prep, pre-primary, reception or transition). Preschool programs are aimed at children in the year before they commence the preparatory year, also referred to as the year before full time schooling (YBFS).

Both enrolment and attendance data have been included for 2016 and 2017. Previously, attendance was the only measure reported. The inclusion of enrolment data aligns the indicator with the reporting practices of other bodies that publish data on preschool participation, such as the Productivity Commission‘s Report on Government Services, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Preschool Education publication.

For all indicator displays, where all years of data are comparable over time an ‘All’ category will be provided as an option in the ‘Year’ drop down display. If only a selection of specific years are comparable, these years (e.g. 2017 to 2019) will be provided as an option under ‘Year’ and ‘All’ will not be an option. See the footnotes for this indicator in the supplementary tables hyperlink below for further information.

See the supplementary table for this indicator for further information and footenotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

This information provides technical specifications for the summary indicator data presented in the quick reference guide.

National Framework Indicator 2.2 Early childhood education: Attendance and enrolment rate of children aged 4-5 years at preschool programs
  Definition Data source
Numerator
  1. Number of children aged 4-5 years enrolled in and attending a preschool program in the year before full-time schooling, in the reference year
  2. Number of children aged 4 years enrolled in a preschool program in the year before full-time schooling, in the reference year, Number of children aged 5 years enrolled in a preschool program in the year before full-time schooling, in the reference year
a, b. ABS Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) national data collection
Denominator
  1. Estimated number of children aged 4 years in the population
  2. Estimated number of children aged 4 years in the population, Estimated number of children aged 5 years in the population

a, b. ABS Australian Demographics Statistics 

Explanatory notes

A preschool program is defined as a structured, play-based learning program, delivered by a degree-qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year before they commence full-time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Programs may be delivered in a variety of service settings including separate preschools or kindergartens, long day care centres, in association with a school. The terminology used to describe a preschool program differs across states and territories.

Children commence full-time schooling in the preparatory year prior to Year 1 (this may be known as kindergarten, prep, pre-primary, reception or transition across jurisdictions). Preschool programs are aimed at children in the year before they commence the preparatory year.

Children are included regardless of whether they also attend a preschool program in a previous year (i.e. including children who were enrolled in and attending more than one year of a preschool program).

A 'qualified' teacher is one who has completed at least a 3-year university qualification in early childhood education.

See the supplementary table for this indicator for further information and footnotes about these data.