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This publication presents statistics on children enrolled in and attending a preschool program across Australia in 2015. The results are compiled from data collected through the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection. Children enrolled in and attending preschool programs are disaggregated by various classifications including state/territory, sector, age, indigenous status, Remoteness Areas (RA) and Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage. Statistics on program fees and the hours enrolled and attending preschool programs are also presented.
In 2015, there were 325,273 children aged 4 or 5 years old enrolled in a preschool program in Australia. Of these children, 267,366 (82.2%) were aged 4 years, while 57,907 (17.8%) were aged 5 years. The number of enrolments in each age group reflect the different primary school starting ages across the states and territories (described in paragraph 3 of the Explanatory Notes) and the number of children in Australia. It is estimated that there were 302,003 children aged 4 years resident in Australia as at June 2015, and 307,788 children aged 5 years.
Of the total number of enrolled children, 47.2% were enrolled in a preschool, 47.4% were enrolled in a preschool program within a long day care (LDC) centre, and 5.4% of children were enrolled in programs across more than one provider type.
Of the 153,544 children enrolled at a preschool program at a preschool, 39.3% were in Government preschools and 59.9% were in Non-government preschools. A small proportion of children were enrolled at more than one preschool.
The majority of the 154,234 children enrolled in preschool programs at LDCs were at Non-government centres (91.1%), with 7.1% enrolled in Government-run LDCs, and a small proportion enrolled at more than one LDC.
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes children at multiple preschools
The shares of children enrolled at preschool or LDCs varied across the states and territories. In Queensland and New South Wales there were more children enrolled at LDCs than at preschools (68.8% and 62.0% respectively). Western Australia had the highest proportion of children enrolled at preschools (84.2%). The distribution presented below reflects the different delivery models in each state and territory.
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes children at multiple preschools
Preschool education statistics are not fully comparable across years due to differences in the Collection coverage, methodologies, and changes to policy settings. For more information refer to Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements.
Of the children enrolled in a preschool program, there were 312,017 children aged 4 or 5 years attending a preschool program in the reference week, with 256,446 aged 4 years and 55,575 aged 5 years. This represents overall attendance of 95.9%. Attendance patterns tend to be consistent with enrolments, by age, sector and state and territory. Attendance was above 90% for all states and territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory, where 86.7% of 4 year olds and 77.7% of 5 year olds enrolled in a preschool program also attended in the reference week.
In all states and territories, most children enrolled in a preschool program were enrolled for 15 hours or more per week. The highest proportions of children enrolled for 15 hours or more per week were in Western Australia (96.2%) and Queensland (95.4%). The proportions of children enrolled for 15 hours or more were similar across the SEIFA quintiles in all states and territories except for New South Wales, which had a gap of 13 percentage points between the least disadvantaged and most disadvantaged areas (74.5% and 61.5% respectively).
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN
In 2015, there were 15,337 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program in Australia. Of these children, 64.7% were enrolled in a preschool while 30.5% were enrolled in a preschool program within a LDC. The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in preschools (93.2%), whilst Queensland had the highest proportion enrolled in a preschool program within a LDC (55.1%).
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program in Remote and Very Remote areas was highest in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program, 65.8% attended for 15 hours or more. The highest proportion in this category was in Queensland (90.5%), while the lowest was in South Australia (46.7%).
The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending a preschool program was lower than the proportion of all children attending a preschool program, with the gap being highest in the Northern Territory (14.4 percentage points) and Western Australia (8.2 percentage points).
Nationally, 25.9% of all preschool program enrolments were fee-free, whilst 55.1% required low out-of-pocket costs (between one and four dollars per hour). These are net fees, referring to the actual tuition fees charged to attend a preschool program after subsidies have been deducted.
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes not stated
Fees at Preschool
A high percentage of enrolments at Government preschools were fee-free at the national level (83.7%), and in Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory all Government preschool enrolments were free of fees. New South Wales and Victoria had the lowest proportion of Government preschool enrolments that were free of fees (23.1% and 43.9% respectively).
For Non-government preschool enrolments, the majority cost four dollars per hour or less (74.5%), with the highest proportions being in Tasmania (93.5%) and Victoria (92.4%). The Australian Capital Territory (21.3%) and New South Wales (44.3%) had the lowest proportion of Non-government enrolments costing four dollars per hour or less.
Fees at LDCs
For preschool programs within LDCs, most enrolments cost between one and four dollars per hour (67.6%), and 77.2% cost four dollars or less. Queensland had the highest proportion of enrolments at LDCs with fees of four dollars or less (98.9%), followed by the Northern Territory (92.7%) and Tasmania (85.4%). The states with the highest proportions of enrolments at LDCs with fees of more than four dollars per hour were the Australian Capital Territory (75.3%) and Victoria (48.3%).
In 2015, there were 10,636 service providers delivering a preschool program in Australia. Of these service providers, 4,258 (40.0%) were a Preschool (either stand-alone or as part of a school), and 6,378 (60.0%) were long day care service providers.
Nationally there were 1,852 Government preschools and 472 Government preschool programs within long day care centres.
Service delivery models differ among the states and territories. New South Wales and Queensland have a predominant LDC delivery model (accounting for 75.8% and 71.4% of preschool program providers respectively), whereas preschools made up the highest proportion of providers in Tasmania (70.4%), Western Australia (66.5%), and the Northern Territory (64.6%). The split between preschools and LDCs was relatively even in Victoria and South Australia.
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