4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2013   
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Contents >> Concepts and Definitions >> Data Collection and Counting Concepts >> Count of Children in the Year Before Full-time Schooling


The year before full-time schooling (YBFS - also referred to as the 'year before formal schooling') is a term used to describe the 'preschool cohort’ of children, due to the varying delivery models of early childhood education across jurisdictions (McEwin and Ryan, 2009). The year before a child begins full-time schooling is further defined as Year 1 (or Grade 1) minus 2 years. This cohort may be a combination of children aged 3, 4, 5 and sometimes 6 years old.

Children who are 6 years old and attending a preschool program have usually attended more than one year of a preschool program, or may have been delayed from starting preschool at the usual age. The 3 year old children include those that are eligible for early entry due to special needs or giftedness, or who attend the first year of full time schooling as 4 year olds due to the state or territory school starting age. Children eligible for early entry as 3 year olds who remain for a second year of preschool as 4 year olds (i.e. early entry for Indigenous children or children with special needs), are in their YBFS when they attend preschool as 4year olds.

Operationally for the National ECEC Collection, children were only included in the YBFS cohort if the child was 4 years old or 5 years old with a preschool repeater indicator and reported not to be repeating. 5 year olds without a preschool repeater indicator were also included within the YBFS population. 5 year old children with a repeater indicator and who were reported as repeaters were excluded within the YBFS population. Refer to Figure 3.12 Creating a Unique Child Record for the Year Before Full-time Schooling Concept.

Unique children counts produce fewer counts as this population counts each child only once, irrespective of the number of preschool episodes they have received during the reference period. This population does not remove instances of children who are enrolled in a preschool program across multiple years.

Year Before Full-time Schooling (YBFS) counts of children produce even fewer instances of children as the count removes children who repeated preschool across years. For this population, children aged 5 who were enrolled in preschool in the previous year, when they were aged 4, are excluded from this population count. This population includes 4 and 5 year olds who are enrolled in their first year of a preschool program.

The below diagram (Figure 3.2) depicts the impact on population size in relation to the business rule associated with each of the 3 population counting concepts. A unique child can attend more than one episode of preschool during the reference week.

In a given year, the enrolment and attendance counts of unique children (refer Figure 3.2) will be:

  • less than the enrolment and attendance counts of child episodes, but
  • greater than the enrolment and attendance counts of children in the year before full-time schooling.

The concept of child episode produces the largest count of observations as it includes double counting of individual children who received 2 or more separate episodes of preschool during the reference period.

Figure 3.2 Counting Concepts on population size

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