Almost 9 out of 10 four year olds and 2 in 10 five year olds were enrolled in a preschool program in 2016, according to a report published today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
ABS spokesperson Michelle Marquardt reported that across the nation in 2016, there were 344,676 children aged four or five years enrolled in a preschool program (also known as an early childhood education program). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children made up 5 per cent (16,598) of this total.
“Of the children enrolled in a preschool program in 2016, 43 per cent were enrolled in preschools and 51 per cent in Long Day Care (LDC) centres,” Ms Marquardt said.
“Service delivery models vary between states and territories and this is reflected in the data. For instance, in Queensland and NSW there were more children enrolled in LDCs than preschools (71 per cent and 65 per cent respectively), meanwhile in Western Australia 80 per cent of children were enrolled in preschools.”
The attendance rate for enrolled children aged four or five years was 96 per cent nationally, with the highest rates of attendance in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (98 per cent). Furthermore, 74 per cent of these children attended for 15 hours or more per week.
The attendance rate was slightly lower (93 per cent) for enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged four or five years, and only 63 per cent of those attending a preschool program did so for 15 or more hours per week.
Ms Marquardt reported that almost a quarter of all children enrolled were in preschool programs that were fee-free in 2016, whilst over half of children were enrolled in programs with low out-of pocket costs (between $1 to $4 per hour). The majority of children enrolled in a preschool program in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory were in fee-free places.
Data for the report were sourced from preschool program service providers, collected by the Australian, state and territory governments.
This publication presents statistics on children enrolled in and attending a preschool program across Australia in 2016. 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.
Preschool education statistics are not fully comparable across years due to differences in the Collection coverage, methodologies, and changes to policy settings. Care should be taken when comparing jurisdictions. For more information refer to Appendix 3 – Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements.
In 2016, there were 344,676 children aged 4 or 5 years old enrolled in a preschool program in Australia. Of these children, 280,646 (81%) were aged 4 years, while 64,027 (19%) were aged 5 years. It is estimated that there were 315,869 children aged 4 years resident in Australia as at June 2016 and 305,378 children aged 5 years. This indicates that 89% of children aged 4 and 21% of children aged 5 were enrolled in preschool programs. The number of enrolments in each age group reflects the different preschool program and primary school starting ages across the states and territories (described in paragraph 3 of the Explanatory Notes) and the number of eligible children in Australia.
Of the total number of enrolled children aged 4 or 5 years, 43% were enrolled in a preschool, 51% were enrolled in a preschool program within a long day care (LDC) centre, and 6% of children were enrolled in programs across more than one provider type.
Of the 148,164 children enrolled at a preschool program at a preschool, 39% were in Government preschools and 60% were in Non-government preschools. A small proportion of children were enrolled at more than one preschool.
The majority of the 175,013 children enrolled in preschool programs at LDCs were at Non-government centres (92%), with 6% enrolled in Government-run LDCs, and a small proportion enrolled at more than one LDC.
SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics. “Preschool Education, Australia, 2016.” ABS Cat. No. 4240.0 [Released 8 March 2016]
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