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First Ever National Measurement of Early Childhood Development

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, and Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, Kate Ellis, today announced the completion of the first stage of data collection for the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI).

As part of the Education Revolution, the Rudd Government is investing $21.9 million in rolling out the Australian Early Development Index nationally.

The AEDI will help us paint a better picture of the health and development of Australian children by the time they start school.

The AEDI is a population measure that provides information on the development of children at the local community level.

Local communities will be able to access the preliminary results for their community online from December 2009.

The results will help the Government provide better targeted services and support for all children in their early years and their families.

International evidence for investing in the early years in all aspects of a child’s development, health, education, family and community support is now overwhelming. It is particularly compelling for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Between May and July this year, data was collected for over 261,000 children which represents 98 per cent of all Australian children in their first year of full-time school.

The AEDI information was collected through a questionnaire completed by teachers for children in their first year of formal schooling.

The questionnaire covered physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge.

Today the Government has announced an additional $1.5 million to fund the continuation of state and territory coordinators bringing the total amount of funding committed to the AEDI to $21.9 million.

Last year, the Government committed an additional $4.5 million for teacher relief and state and territory coordinators who played an important role in supporting teachers and principals to achieve this impressive rate of data collection.

Coordinators will now also be available to provide school communities with greater support in understanding the AEDI results for their local area.

Effective data collection is critical, to make sure that we are making the best possible use of the Government’s significant investment in early childhood development.

The Rudd Government is investing almost $16 billion in early childhood education and care over the next four years. This is $1billion a year more compared with the previous Government.

The Rudd Government is committed to delivering a world-class system of integrated early childhood education and care, where learning is tailored to children’s individual needs.

The Rudd Government wants to ensure all Australian children to start school as happy and confident learners.

Further information about the AEDI is available at www.aedi.org.au or www.deewr.gov.au/earlychildhood.

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