Programme 1.4 Early Childhood Education

The objective of this programme is to improve access to high-quality child care and early childhood learning to support optimal child development in the early years and prepare children for formal schooling.

These goals are being achieved through a number of national partnership agreements.

The National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care established the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care. An element of the framework is the national quality assessment and rating process, which provides families with information to help them make informed choices about services.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care there is a requirement to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the implementation of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care, including the assessment and rating process. As at 30 June 2014, the review was being progressed by the Australian Government in cooperation with all jurisdictions.

The National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education supported the delivery of early childhood education programmes between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2014, including for vulnerable, disadvantaged and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, the Government allocated $407 million3 in the 2013–14 financial year to state and territory governments so that children have access to a quality preschool programme for 600 hours in the year before full-time school.

In 2013–14, the department worked in cooperation with the state and territory governments on a review of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. The review will assess the degree to which the agreed objectives, outcomes and outputs of the national partnership have been achieved, the most efficient service delivery models and whether return on the Government’s investment of $1.6 billion over six financial years has been maximised.

The National Partnership Agreement on Technical and Further Education ( TAFE) Fee Waivers for Child Care Qualifications supports individuals, including existing child care workers, to gain a vocational education and training qualification in early childhood care. This funding removes the regulated course fees for diplomas and advanced diplomas in children’s services delivered by a TAFE institute or other government training provider.

3 Amount includes an additional $1 million the previous Australian Government agreed to allocate to Tasmania that is not stated in the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. The amount was published in the Economic Statement in August 2013 and is in Tasmania’s Implementation Plan.

Performance information

Table 4: Programme 1.4 Early childhood education performance information

National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education

Key performance indicators 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actuala
Percentage of all children enrolled in preschool

 

95% 98%bc
Percentage of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool 95% 94%bcd
Percentage of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool in remote areas 95% 85%e

Percentage of children enrolled in an early childhood education programme that is available for at least 15 hours a week

95% 80%bcf

a Actual figures are based on data derived from the 2013 National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Preschool Education Australia, 2013 cat. no. 4240.0, ABS, Canberra.

b Data may include some children aged five years who were also counted in the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection for 2012.

cIncludes enrolment data for South Australia in the 2013 National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection uplifted by a factor determined by South Australia to reflect the one-off impact of transitioning to a single intake preschool enrolment policy.

d The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population count is subject to a number of issues that limit its accuracy, including variable levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification and inaccuracies at fine levels of disaggregation. Data is based on population projections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples based on the 2006 Census published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009, Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021, cat. no. 3238.0, ABS Canberra. This figure is based on population data from the 2006 Census to enable comparison with results in previous years.

e Data for National Indigenous Reform Agreement reporting purposes is based on population projections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples based on the 2011 Census published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 cat. no. 3238.0, ABS, Canberra. Data excludes some children aged five years who were also counted in the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection for 2012. Figure not directly comparable to the figure in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations annual report for 2012–13. Figure not uplifted for transition to a single intake preschool enrolment policy in South Australia.

fConsistent with the reporting requirements of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, this figure would be 82 per cent if it was a proportion of children enrolled in 2013.

Note: Data for 2014 will be available in March 2015.