4240.0 - Preschool Education, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/03/2017   
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EXPANDED KEY FINDINGS


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.


CHILDREN

Preschool Enrolments

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.

Graph Image for Graph 1 - Distribution of children enrolled, by sector, Australia, 2016 (a)


The shares of children enrolled at preschool or LDCs varied across the states and territories. In Queensland and New South Wales there were more children enrolled at LDCs than at preschools (71% and 65% respectively). Western Australia had the highest proportion of children enrolled at preschools (80%). The distribution presented below reflects the different delivery models in each state and territory.

Graph Image for Graph 2 - Distribution of children enrolled, by sector and state, 2016


Preschool Attendance

Of the children enrolled in a preschool program, there were 331,402 aged 4 or 5 years attending a preschool program in the reference week (269,871 aged 4 years and 61,531 aged 5 years). This represents overall attendance of 96% of children enrolled. Attendance was highest in South Australia, followed by Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (98%), and lowest in the Northern Territory (92%).

Weekly Hours

In all states and territories, most children enrolled in a preschool program were enrolled for 15 hours or more per week. All states and territories had 94% or more of children enrolled for 15 hours or more per week, apart from New South Wales (84%).

The proportions enrolled for 15 hours or more were higher in preschools than LDCs for all states and territories other than New South Wales.


Graph Image for Graph 3 - Distribution of weekly hours for children enrolled, by state, 2016


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CHILDREN

In 2016, there were 16,598 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4 or 5 years enrolled in a preschool program in Australia. Of these children, 59% were enrolled in a preschool while 35% were enrolled in a preschool program within a LDC.

The split of enrolments between preschools and LDCs varied across jurisdictions. The proportion of enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in preschools was highest in the Northern Territory (90%), followed by Western Australia (87%) and Tasmania (76%). Queensland had the highest proportion of enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in LDCs (57%).

Most of the enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were at service providers in Inner and Outer Regional Australia (47%) or the Major Cities (36%). Remote and Very Remote areas accounted for 18% of enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (well above the 2.1% share recorded for all children). The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program in Remote and Very Remote areas was highest in the Northern Territory, followed by Western Australia and Queensland. This reflects the distribution of where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population lives.

Graph Image for Graph 4 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled, by remoteness area and state, 2016


The proportion of enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who attended a preschool program (93%) was lower than for all children (96%). The gap was highest in the Northern Territory (10 percentage points) and Western Australia (6 percentage points).

Graph Image for Graph 5 - Proportion of children attending, by state, 2016


Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children that were enrolled in a preschool program, 92% were enrolled for 15 hours or more per week, yet only 63% attended for 15 hours or more in the reference period (compared to 74% for all children). The highest proportion in this category was in Queensland (83%), while the lowest was in the Northern Territory (28%).


HOURLY FEES

Almost a quarter (24%) of children enrolled were in preschool programs that were fee-free. Over half (53%) required low out-of-pocket costs (between one and four dollars per hour). These are net fees, referring to the actual tuition fees charged to attend a preschool program after subsidies have been deducted.

The Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania had the highest proportions of fee-free enrolments, whilst New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria had the highest proportions of enrolments for $5 or more per hour.


Graph Image for Graph 6 - Distribution of hourly fees for children enrolled, by state, 2016 (a)


Fees at Preschool

A high percentage of enrolments at Government preschools were fee-free at the national level (83%). In South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory 100% of Government preschool enrolments were free of fees. New South Wales and Victoria had the lowest proportion of Government preschool enrolments that were free of fees (22% and 42% respectively).

For Non-government preschool enrolments, the majority cost four dollars per hour or less (72%), with the highest proportions being in Tasmania (93%) and Victoria (92%). The Australian Capital Territory (0%) and New South Wales (40%) had the lowest proportion of Non-government enrolments costing four dollars per hour or less.

Fees at LDCs

For preschool programs within LDCs, most enrolments cost between one and four dollars per hour (63%), and 72% cost four dollars or less. Queensland had the highest proportion of enrolments at LDCs with fees of four dollars or less (96%), followed by the Northern Territory and Tasmania (both with 84%). The states with the highest proportions of enrolments at LDCs with fees of more than four dollars per hour were the Australian Capital Territory (81%) and Victoria (52%).


SERVICE PROVIDERS

In 2016, there were 11,070 service providers delivering a preschool program in Australia. Of these service providers, 4,243 (38%) were a Preschool (either stand-alone or as part of a school), and 6,827 (62%) were LDCs.

Nationally there were 1,864 Government preschools and 448 Government preschool programs within LDCs.

Service delivery models differ among the states and territories. New South Wales and Queensland have a predominant LDC delivery model (accounting for 77% and 72% of preschool program providers respectively), whereas preschools made up the highest proportion of providers in Tasmania (64%), the Northern Territory (64%) and Western Australia (62%). The split between preschools and LDCs was relatively even in Victoria and South Australia.


Graph Image for Graph 7 - Distribution of service providers, by state, 2016