Preschool attendance linked to improved school and learning outcomes in remote NT: study
Regular attendance at preschool in remote Northern Territory communities will improve a child’s school attendance and learning outcomes, a study by the Menzies School of Health Research has found.
The Early Pathways to School Learning – Lessons from the NT study reviewed health, education and other government data of over 60,000 children, to develop a ‘big picture’ understanding of factors impacting on school attendance and education outcomes.
The report found that Aboriginal children who attended any form of preschool went on to attend an average of 4.5 per cent or 12 more days per school year than those who had not attended preschool.
Lead author of the report, Professor Sven Silburn said “The study’s findings show children’s patterns of attendance are established very early in their school career. They are also strongly influenced by their developmental readiness for school learning, which in turn is shaped by their early-life health and social circumstances.”
Professor Silburn said that statistical modelling of the longitudinal linked data indicates that policy investments to strengthen maternal and child health, and early learning services such as the Northern Territory Government’s ‘Families and First Teachers’ preschool program could yield substantial improvements in Aboriginal school attendance.
The study was funded by the Northern Territory Government and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and undertaken in partnership with the NT Departments of Health, Education and Territory Families, and the Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).
“This study provides the Northern Territory with quality independent research to inform our work and engage our strategy to ensure every child has the opportunity to engage, grow and achieve” said Department of Education Deputy Chief Executive Marion Guppy.
A summary of the Early Pathways to School Learning – Lessons from the NT data linkage study is available here.