In March this year Minister Simon Birmingham launched the national report from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). The AEDC is a population measure of how young children have developed by the time they start in the first full year at primary school. Previous data collections occurred in 2009 and 2012.
After a full time in Reception, teachers complete an extensive survey of children’s development in these five areas:
- Physical health & wellbeing
- Social competence
- Emotional maturity
- Language & cognitive skills
- Communication skills & general knowledge
The report shows that most children in Australia were developmentally on track in 2015 though more than one in five children in Australia were found to be vulnerable in at least one are of development and one in ten children, are vulnerable in at least two areas by the time they start primary schooling.
The results for 2012 and 2015 are fairly consistent and show improvement since 2009, particularly in the language and cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge domains.
Physical health and wellbeing of children showed an increase from 9.4 per cent in 2009, 9.3 per cent in 2012 and 9.7 per cent in 2015. Likewise, developmental vulnerability in the social competence domain was 9.5 percent in 2009, 9.3 per cent in 2012 and in 2015 vulnerability increased to 9.9 per cent. Fluctuations have also occurred in the emotional maturity domain from 8.9 percent vulnerability in 2009 to 7.6 percent in 2012 and increased in 2015 to 8.4 percent.
The emerging trends indicate that:
- Children from a low socio-economic status (SES) background are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable
- Boys are nearly twice as developmentally vulnerable as girls on at least one domain
- Children living in areas classified as remote are more developmentally vulnerable than children from non-remote areas
- Not being proficient in English is associated with a significant increase in being developmentally vulnerable
The AEDC will occur again in 2018. In the meantime, how do we use this information to keep improving early learning and wellbeing for all children?
If children’s development is responsive to environmental influences, what kinds of environments and experiences could we seek to provide for all children in Australia?
Further information about the national 2015 AEDC report can be found here.