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Australian-first study highlights benefits of early education for children

A study commissioned by national independent enterprise The Front Project confirms the benefits of formal early education programs for school children.

Children who attend one year of early childhood education are more likely to achieve better NAPLAN results in Year 3 than those who haven’t.

The Australian-first study, conducted by PwC, found that participation in early learning improved cognitive abilities that can be measured in academic achievement, educational attainment and employment later in life.

Children who get higher scores in their NAPLAN test in Year 3 tend to do better through to Year 9 NAPLAN, and continue to do so until high school graduation.

Jane Hunt, CEO of The Front Project, says that the results emphasise what we already knew about early learning – that it plays a vital role in children’s short term and long term development.

“We all want our children to be more and have more than we had, and this report demonstrates that early learning is a vital part of making this possible,” Hunt says.

“One year of quality early learning before school can hold the key to unlocking a wealth of opportunity for our young people as they develop and eventually enter the workforce.”

She says this research confirms quality early learning as a key economic enabler that will allow our children to seize opportunities as the world of work becomes more complex.

“We know that 65 per cent of children today will do jobs that have not been invented yet, so the reality is that our children will need to learn how to learn – early education does this, and this research proves it.”

Hunt says these results highlight the importance of governments committing to ongoing funding for the National Partnership Agreement and quality early learning.

“The report also highlights the need to address the variability of quality in early childhood education, particularly the quarter of services not yet meeting the National Quality Standard. As well as that, the report bolsters the argument quality early education should be expanded to children two years out from school.”

Chair of The Front Project’s Board, Lisa Chung said the report is indicative of the opportunities created later in life when the early years of young Australians are invested in.

“Succeeding in future workplaces will require agile, lifelong learners, who are comfortable with continuous adaptation and a willingness to change industries or sectors,” Chung says.

“It’s possible to train people in new information and contexts, but without teams who can learn and re-learn, innovation and efficiency suffer.”

Zac Hatzantonis, PwC’s early childhood practice leader says the benefits of high quality early learning can be manifold.

“The report demonstrates that better investment in early childhood education will also help reduce escalating social welfare, health and justice costs.”