The findings from the 2021 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) are now available.
The AEDC is a national assessment conducted every 3 years to examine how children have developed by the time they start school. It is designed to show what is working well and where more work is needed to ensure all children can have the benefits of a strong start in life.
In 2021, data was collected on over 305,000 children in their first year of full-time school and from approximately 7,500 primary schools.
Teachers responded to around 100 questions that measure early childhood development across 5 domains:
- physical health and wellbeing
- social competence
- emotional maturity
- language and cognitive skills (school based)
- communication skills and general knowledge.
Key findings for 2021 include:
At a national level, the AEDC data shows the percentage of children who were on track on 5 domains decreased for the first time since 2009 (from 55.4% in 2018 to 54.8% in 2021).
Results also show a slight increase in the proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable:
- Children assessed as developmentally vulnerable on one or more domain increased from 21.7% in 2018 to 22% in 2021.
- Children assessed as developmentally vulnerable on two or more domains also increased from 11% in 2018 to 11.4% in 2021.
Results from the AEDC support governments’ implementation and monitoring of Closing the Gap targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and highlight the importance of investing in the early years, especially through high quality early childhood education and care and universal access to preschool.