The foundation for lifelong learning begins well before children start school. Recent tests results may be disappointing (“Not a beautiful set of numbers”, 3/8), but should not be surprising if data from the Australian Early Development Census is considered. Teachers around Australia use the AEDC to rate children’s development at the start of their first year at school. Data on more than 96 per cent of all children indicate that one in five begins school vulnerable in one or more key areas of development – the foundations upon which literacy and academic achievement are built. We then expect primary teachers to deal with these vulnerabilities – an extremely challenging task even for the best schools. To optimise educational outcomes for all children and ensure a strong and prosperous future for all Australians, we need to invest heavily in the early years and provide all young children with quality learning opportunities.
Professor Frank Oberklaid, Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.
As published in The Age, 5 August 2016, Letters to the Editor.