Early childhood education data – an untapped resource for change

Ms Megan O’Connell1,2,3, Mr Blake Stewart1,4
1CELA, Marrickville, Australia, 2RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, 3University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 4St Luke’s Preschool, Dapto, Australia


Much attention has been paid to the pivotal role of early childhood development in preparing children for a lifetime of learning.

Data sources such as the Australian Early Development Census show how children who attend early learning fare better than their peers.

The AEDC is also a useful data source in its own right, providing valuable information on how children are faring in their first year of school and opportunities for focusing on individual areas of child development to improve children’s outcomes.

However, the utility of the data is limited by ECEC educator and teacher understanding of the availability of the data and capacity to use data.

In this presentation we highlight different levels of understanding of AEDC data, drawn from a survey of CELA members.

We then examine opportunities for improving data literacy of educators to shift children’s outcomes through a case study approach.

We provide a case study of St Luke’s Dapto, to highlight how data has been used to understand the developmental vulnerabilities of children, and to build a cohesive education program to support all children to thrive. Data plays a central role in St Luke’s planning process, including guiding staff professional development and informing education program and planning.

St Luke’s has used data to underpin their resource allocation, including to provide evidence to support capital works projects. By relying on data as evidence, St Luke’s ensures a common, aligned theme of inclusion runs across all elements of their service.

In this presentation we will highlight approaches to build data literacy across ECEC and the benefits of this.

The presentation will conclude with considerations of how to improve the availability and use of the AEDC in early childhood education.

Megan O’Connell is Policy and Research Manager at CELA. Megan is committed to improving outcomes from education for children and young people. She has worked in education policy across government, not-for-profit, university and corporate organisations, including as research manager for the 2015 AEDC Collection.
Blake Stewart is the Director of St Luke’s Preschool and an External Professional Development Facilitator & Early Education Specialist with CELA. Blake has dedicated his career in coaching and building the capacity of early education educators and leaders. Blake has a strong passion for advocating for best practice and excellence in early education for all children.