Australia’s national education evidence body

Evidence matters for quality early childhood education and care

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Written by Zid Mancenido, Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation at the Australian Education Research Organisation 

Our experiences in the early years shape the developing brain. It is a time when the building blocks of identity, community, wellbeing and communication are established, laying foundations for lifelong learning and resilience.  

Over the past decade, sustained investments across Australia have increased participation in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. This is good news, given the wealth of research on the importance of ECEC in supporting the learning and development of young children, particularly for those facing disadvantage.  

We know, however, that attending an ECEC service is not enough. Research shows that the quality of ECEC matters: quality educator-child interactions and learning activities are key drivers of gains in children’s learning and development. For example, supporting exploration through movement and play, reading and discussing stories, and counting, grouping and comparing with children, are all teaching strategies that have been shown to be related to key learning and development outcomes. 

Much of this is already known and implemented by the sector. 87% of ECEC services are rated as meeting or above in Quality Area 1 (Educational Program and Practice), up from 67% in 2013. However, there remains space for improvement to ensure all children are supported to succeed, particularly children living in disadvantaged areas where highly rated ECEC services are less common

To improve children’s access to quality ECEC, AERO will generate high-quality evidence, make high-quality evidence accessible and enhance the use of evidence across the ECEC sector. We’re listening to ECEC practitioners and collaborating with them to ensure they are well supported to use evidence to inform their teaching. 

Although we’re still new, we’ve already begun offering support with our first set of Tried and Tested guides. These provide concise and practical advice for educators and teachers on how to best support the development of early literacyearly numeracy, and executive function and self-regulation

We plan to continue to build on these resources, so the ECEC sector has easy access to trusted, useful guidance. 

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