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).
Enrolment data have been included since 2016 alongside attendance data for this measure.. 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 first figure shows the attendance and enrolment rate of children aged 4–5 at preschool programs, by Indigenous status and sex. Data can be presented for select years from 2012 to 2020.
The second figure is a line graph showing the attendance and enrolment rate of children aged 4–5 at preschool programs from 2016 to 2020. Data can be selected by Indigenous status, sex and enrolment domain (attendance or enrolment).
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.
||a, b. ABS Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) national data collection|
a, b. ABS Australian Demographics Statistics
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.
It should be noted that there are significant differences in the way that enrolment and attendance are defined and how the resultant data is different. The definitions of each are provided below to further explain these differences and to aid interpretation of the data.
For the purposes of this reporting, a child is considered to be attending a preschool program if the child was enrolled and present for at least one hour during the reference period. Children who did not attend a preschool program during the reference period (e.g. children who were absent due to illness or extended holiday leave) are not considered to have attended a preschool program.
A child is considered to be enrolled if they were offered a place, formally enrolled or registered in the preschool program and:
- attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, or
- were absent during the reference period due to illness or extended holiday leave, but were expected to return.
A child is not considered to be enrolled if they were absent during the reference period and not expected to return to the preschool program.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting Australian Government closure of the international border from 20 March 2020, caused significant disruptions to the usual Australian population trends. This report uses Australian Estimated Resident Population (ERP) estimates that reflect these disruptions.
Accordingly, in the year July 2020 to June 2021, the overall population growth was much smaller than the years prior and in particular, there was a relatively large decline in the population of Victoria. ABS reporting indicates these were primarily due to net-negative international migration (National, state and territory population, June 2021 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)).
Please be aware that this change in the usual population trends may complicate your interpretation of statistics calculated from these ERPs. For example, rates and proportions may be greater than in previous years due to decreases in the denominator (population size) of some sub-populations.