Australian Bureau of Statistics
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004
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Preschool generally refers to education that is provided for children in the year prior to the first year of full-time primary school, is largely sessional, and operates only during school terms for children three years of age to school starting age. Preschools may be operated by government, community organisations or the private sector. Preschool programs may also be provided in long-day child care centres. Data about preschools are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Child Care Survey which is conducted every three years. There is some undercounting of the number of children attending preschool in this survey. Reasons for this include differences in terminology and starting ages of preschool between states and territories, and the fact that children who are attending a preschool program within a child care centre may not be separately identified in the survey.
The changing focus of long day care to include an educational component may account for some of the changes in the participation of four year olds at preschool. While the proportion of four year olds attending preschool has fluctuated somewhat between 1993 and 2002, the proportion attending long-day child care centres has increased steadily (from 12% in 1993 to 25% in 2002) (table 10.6).
Indigenous preschool students
In 2002, a total of 8,731 Indigenous children were enrolled in government and non-government preschools Australia-wide, representing 4% of total preschool enrolments, as counted by the NIPC. Of these enrolments 31% were in New South Wales. Table 10.7 contains time series data for Indigenous preschool enrolments from 2000 to 2002. Between 2001 and 2002, the number of Indigenous children enrolled in preschools increased across all states and territories, excluding Tasmania where enrolments declined by 8%. A change in the definition of a preschool in Queensland and Western Australia in 2001 has made the estimates for these two states no longer comparable to earlier estimates.
The 2002 NIPC also shows that 60% of Indigenous preschool students were aged four, 25% were aged three and the remaining 15% were aged five or more.
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