Children and society do better with two years of pre-school - new report

The Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign coalition welcomes the latest report by the Mitchell Institute Pre-school: Two years are better than one and supports the findings and recommendations in the report.

The welfare, early childhood education, social service and research organisations who are collaborating in the Early Learning, Everyone Benefits campaign, support the findings and recommendations in the report, particularly that:

Two years of high-quality preschool can be transformative. It lifts educational achievement for all children and especially benefits the children most likely to experience developmental vulnerability. For these children in particular, two years of preschool would substantially change their trajectories. (1)

There is ample evidence of this:

  • A landmark UK study showed that students who attended 2-3 years of preschool obtained higher total final exam scores, better grades in English and in maths and took more final year exams (Sammons et al 2014).
  • Analysis of international test results (PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS) show that, across the population, children with at least two years of preschool achieve much higher scores at age 15 than those who attend no preschool or only one year (Mullis et al 2012).
  • The Abbott Pre-K program in New Jersey found much higher impacts for the catch up.

“Children who attend high quality, age-appropriate, play-based early learning, also benefit from learning to understand and manage their emotions, develop social skills with other children and adults and have their natural abilities amplified,” said campaign spokesperson, Sam Page (CEO of Early Childhood Australia).

These benefits to individual children flow on to our whole society:

  • providing at least two years of a preschool program is a lever for lifting Australia’s educational performance and long-term productivity.
  • it will deliver the best 'bang for our buck' to lift the educational performance of all children, break the cycle of disadvantage and improve long term outcomes for children.
  • it can reduce the significant downstream costs of the justice system, welfare and ill- health.

“If we can provide all Australian children with access to two days of quality early learning for at least two years before they start school, we will improve literacy and education performance across the country,” said Ms Page.

“When children are confident learners they are much more likely to feel successful at school, complete their education and enjoy life-long benefits such as workforce participation and good mental health. As a society we all benefit from citizens who are capable learners and resilient people,” concluded Ms Page.

The Early Learning, Everyone Benefits campaign supports the recommendation by the Mitchell Institute that the Ministerial Education Council should commission a scoping study into universal 3-year-old preschool programs for Australia, which would ideally conform to the National Early Learning Framework.

(1) Factsheet: Pre-school: Two years are better than one p2

Media contact: Carolin Wenzel 0475 554 999

For factsheets and full report: