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.

Trend data: For all indicator displays, the yearly trend is limited to indicators with 3 or more years (including the current year) of comparable time series data. To see the trend click on “Yearly Trend” button on the display. Where 3 or more years of comparable data including the most recent year is not available, a “No time series data” message is shown on the display.

The figure shows the attendance rate of children aged 4–5 at preschool programs, 2012 to 2019. The rate was 86.9% for 2019.

Visualisation not available for printing

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Preschool Education, Australia

See the supplementary data tables for further information and footnotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

The information below 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.