In an effort to deliver significant improvements and outcomes for all Australians, in 2007 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a partnership between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments to encourage substantial reform in the areas of education, skills and early childhood development. In 2008, COAG endorsed a comprehensive set of goals, outcomes, progress measures and future policy directions in the area of early childhood education (ECE). This included a commitment to ensure that every child in Australia has access to a quality ECE program. In 2013 and 2014, COAG endorsed new National Partnership Agreements extending the coverage of universal access to early childhood education. These agreements aim to maintain universal access to quality ECE programs, with a focus on improved participation by vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
The National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (the Collection) was established in 2010 as part of the data development activities to improve the quality of ECE data required for reporting under the agreements.
Responsibility for ECE is shared between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments. ECE programs are administered through a wide range of service providers including preschools, long day care centres, and schools (both government and non-government).
ECE programs are known by other terms across the states and territories, perhaps most frequently as ‘preschool program’ which is the term used throughout this publication. A preschool program for the purposes of the Collection is defined as a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed primarily at children in the year or two before they commence full time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides the program or whether it is government funded and/or privately provided.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on the definition of a preschool program and background information see the Explanatory Notes section of this release or the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2013 (cat. no. 4240.0.55.001).