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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> Education and Training >> Early childhood education

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Early childhood education in Australia encompasses both the preschool sector, and the skills development of children aged from 6 months to 3-4 years. A number of studies at the domestic and international level have noted the lower educational assets of older children who did not participate in some formal early childhood program. Research also indicates that all children are at the peak of their learning potential at ages 1-3 years. This has prompted various educational providers to introduce formal programs to maximise the uptake of basic skills in the 1-3 years age cohort. Such programs aimed at raising children's readiness for school, are generally available in child care or family day care centres.

PRESCHOOL STUDENTS

Preschool generally refers to education that is provided for children from 3 years of age to school starting age. In June 2005, according to the triennial Child Care Survey, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 62% of 4 year olds attended preschool (graph 10.1).

The responsibility for providing preschool education rests with individual states and territories. Preschools may be operated by government, community organisations or the private sector. They are largely sessional and normally only operational during school terms. Preschool programs may also be provided in long-day child care centres.

The age at which children may attend preschool varies across jurisdictions, reflecting the different school commencement ages. The 2002 and 2005 Child Care Surveys showed 62% of preschoolers were aged 4 years at the time of the surveys.

10.1 PARTICIPATION OF FOUR YEAR OLDS - June 10.1 PARTICIPATION OF FOUR YEAR OLDS - JUNE


INDIGENOUS PRESCHOOL STUDENTS

The National Preschool Census (NPC), is conducted annually for the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training. The scope of the NPC is all 3-5 year olds attending preschools which are registered providers and have a preschool educational program. The NPC provides a basis for the allocation of Australian Government funding to preschools in which Indigenous students are enrolled.

In 2005, 9,019 Indigenous children were enrolled in government and non-government preschools, representing 4% of total preschool enrolments. Of these enrolments 31% were in New South Wales. Between 2004 and 2005, the number of Indigenous children enrolled in preschools decreased slightly, while non-Indigenous enrolments increased by 4% (table 10.2).


10.2 INDIGENOUS PRESCHOOL ENROLMENTS

2003
2004
2005

New South Wales
2,694
2,672
2,773
Victoria
559
535
523
Queensland(a)
896
862
738
South Australia
1,114
1,148
1,047
Western Australia
1,834
1,858
1,905
Tasmania
331
341
356
Northern Territory
1,535
1,544
1,543
Australian Capital Territory
88
95
134
Total Indigenous enrolments
9,051
9,055
9,019
Total non-Indigenous enrolments
211,627
205,004
212,653

(a) Some Queensland enrolments are excluded from the NPC. Consequently, Indigenous preschool enrolments are understated.
Source: Department of Education, Science and Training, 'National Preschool Census'.


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