Australia’s progress in early learning has stalled

Early Learning - Everyone Benefits

Early Educators, Child Care Services and leading voices in the early education sector have collaborated to produce a report which tracks progress across a range of different early childhood education and care (ECEC) outcome measures.

The report, compiled by the Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign has shown that progress on early learning in Australia has stalled and action is needed to increase participation rates of three year olds, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Early Learning Everyone Benefits is a campaign which aims to inform Australians of the benefits of quality early learning for all children aged under five with a focus on the benefit to children, communities and the nation as a whole.

The report found:

  • One in five Australian children start school vulnerable in one or more domain(s) of social, emotional, language and cognitive, communication and general knowledge, or physical development (it’s two in five for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children)
  • Participation in preschool programs for children in the year before school has lifted from just 12 per cent in 2008 to 91 percent in 2015, a direct result from a targeted Universal Access policy funded through a National Partnership Agreement
  • Children who attend early learning are half as likely to have developmental vulnerabilities when they start school as children who don’t attend any form of early childhood education
  • Some children continue to miss out on accessing high quality early education and care, possibly due to affordability, distance or a lack of awareness of the benefits that early education can bring
  • Our most disadvantaged children have the highest rates of vulnerability and  children who are from disadvantaged backgrounds are more than twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable when starting school
  • Australian children are falling behind in international tests, like the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test
  • A child with no pre-primary education is 1.9 times more likely to perform poorly in education than a student who has attended more than a year of pre-primary education, even after controlling for socio-economic status.

International studies show when children attend early learning they are more likely to succeed at school, become more skilled, and have better social and emotional outcomes while vulnerable children who get a good start to their education can develop the expertise and skills to become productive members of the workforce and contribute to society.

All of this contributes to reducing long term social costs and increasing benefits to the whole society.

The Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign is comprised of Australia’s leading early childhood advocacy, research and early learning providers. It seeks political commitment to increase access to quality programs that amplify children’s development.

To download the State of Early Learning in Australia report click here.

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