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Should 3-year-old kids be admitted in full-time pre-school?

Preschool kids Source: AAP

Presently, at both the Commonwealth and states level, access to preschool is for 4-year-olds.

A new report from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute has recommended that universal preschool be extended to include 3-year-old children in Australia.

Presently, at both the Commonwealth and states level, access to preschool is for 4-year-olds.

Victoria University's Dr Stacey Fox told ABC says that other OECD countries had extended the preschool age.

She adds that educational outcomes in these countries have improved.

"We've looked across the international research literature. We've spoken to preschool teachers and child development experts in Australia and there's an overwhelming consensus that two years of preschool gives children the best start."

Dr Fox said this move will cost a "modest investment" but she is not sure exactly how much.

"We think it could be manageable and we think that the long-term benefits of that investment mean that the returns absolutely outweigh the costs.”.

Dr Fox also believes that the benefits of this move will help achieve higher NAPLAN scores.

"It means children are much more ready when they start school, they start school on a much more equal footing, it has flow on impacts to their NAPLAN scores, to their rates of Year 12 graduation."

Samantha Page from Early Childhood Australia agreed with Dr Fox’s recommendation to extend preschool access.

She told ABC that children who go to a preschool can easily make a successful transition into school.

"We know that we have nearly a quarter of children starting school at a disadvantage to their peers, that means they're coming into school behind where their peers are and it's fairly difficult for those children to catch up.”

Australia’s participation of 3-year-olds in early learning is low compared with other economically developed countries.

In the UK and New Zealand 97 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled in early learning.

In Australia the rate is just 67 percent.

In such a scenario, children most at risk are those least likely to be attending a preschool program in Australia.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC that he welcomes the discussion about extending preschool.

"I've been speaking publicly about extending preschool to three year olds for nearly a year. It's a complex issue in terms of what settings it should be delivered in and for what hours as well as how it is funded.”

Senator Birmingham also said the Government's focus now was trying to pass the savings needed to pay for the planned overhaul of the child care and early education system.

Nishant, father of a 3-year-old, believes that if this step is implemented in early childhood education then it will definitely boost kids confidence level and creative abilities.

Read ECA media release here.