FAQs for schools

FAQs for schools

What is the AEDC?

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) is a population-based measure of how children in Australia have developed by the time they start their first year of full-time school. Teachers complete a research tool, the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (the Instrument). The Instrument measures five key areas, or domains, of early childhood development:

  • physical health and wellbeing
  • social competence
  • emotional maturity
  • language and cognitive skills (school-based) and
  • communication skills and general knowledge

These areas are closely linked to the predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has endorsed the AEDC as a national progress measure of early childhood development in Australia.

Who is responsible for the AEDC?

The Australian Government and state and territory governments are working in partnership with various organisations to deliver the AEDC. The Social Research Centre in Melbourne collects and manages the AEDC data.

Why should schools participate in the AEDC?

The value of the AEDC is that it provides information for schools, communities and governments to pinpoint the services, resources and support for children and families to help shape the future and wellbeing of children in Australia.

At the school level, teachers reported that participating in the census raised their awareness of the needs of individual children and the class as a whole. They also reported that completing the AEDC assisted their planning for transition to school and developing programmes of work for their class.

Results from previous data collections have been used to help young children and families in a range of ways:

  • Schools seeing improved student performance through new literacy programmes
  • Communities starting new playgrounds and parental services and
  • Governments using the data as evidence to develop better policies for children.

The AEDC results can also influence school planning; examples of how schools have used the results are available on the School Stories webpage.

How is the AEDC data collected?

Teachers complete the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (similar to a questionnaire) for children in their first year of full-time school using a secure data entry system. The Instrument is completed based on the teacher’s knowledge and observations of the children in their class. Children are not required to be present while teachers complete the Instrument. Schools are provided with funding for teacher relief time – it takes teachers around 20 minutes to complete each Instrument.

How is the AEDC completed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?

If the teacher of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child in their first year of full-time school is not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, it is recommended the Instrument be completed in consultation with an Indigenous Cultural Consultant, where available. Indigenous staff members bring unique cultural knowledge. Indigenous Cultural Consultants are well placed to support teachers with completing the Instrument for Indigenous children because of their personal understanding of Indigenous children's ways of learning and behaving.

To ensure the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument is culturally inclusive and appropriate for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Indigenous Cultural Consultants and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders across metropolitan, rural and remote sites were consulted.

Why is the AEDC completed in the first year of full-time school?

Research shows that the experiences and relationships that babies and children have during the early years strongly affect their future development. Providing the right kinds of services, resources and support during the early years brings life-long benefits to children and the community.

The AEDC can also be used to monitor changes in the development of children in communities over time to understand how local circumstances might be changed to improve children's life chances.

What if parents/carers do not want their child to participate in the census?

Participation in the AEDC is voluntary and parents/carers should notify schools if they wish to opt out of the census.

How is the children’s privacy protected?

The Department of Education and Training is the custodian of the AEDC data and implements data collection techniques, storage and reporting technologies that ensure the reliability and security of the AEDC data. Security rules (protocols) agreed between the Department of Education and Training and all contracted service providers require protection against unauthorised access and accidental destruction and modification of AEDC data.

Who should parents/carers contact if they have more questions about the privacy?

All enquiries and complaints about the privacy of AEDC information should be directed to the Department of Education and Training in writing to aedc@education.gov.au. There is also a range of information on the AEDC initiative available from the AEDC website www.aedc.gov.au.

The Department of Education and Training has a Privacy Policy that is available on their web site. The website also includes further information on how the Department of Education and Training complies with the APPs it also provides information about how you may make a complaint about a

What is required of each child?

Nothing. Teachers complete the AEDC for children in their first year of full-time school using a simple and secure data collection system. The AEDC questions are completed based on the teacher’s knowledge and observations of the children in their class. It is not a test and children are not required to be present while teachers complete the questions.

How reliable is teacher reporting?

Teacher reporting is very reliable. Studies in Canada where the Early Development Instrument was developed have confirmed the reliability of teacher reporting by using different teachers to report on the same children. Teacher’s will undertake one hour of training and be provided with detailed information to help them accurately complete the Instrument for the children in their class.

Will parents/carers get individual results for their child?

The AEDC is not like the National Assessment Programme in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) where individual reports are provided to parents/carers. For the AEDC, your child’s data will be combined with data from the other children living within the same community. AEDC results for individual children are not reported and the AEDC is not used as an individual diagnostic tool. This means that an individual child report is not produced.

For further information about accessing your child’s information please refer to the Department of Education and Training’s Guide to Accessing and Correcting Your Personal Information.

Has the AEDC been done before?

Between 2004 and 2008 the Building Better Communities for Children project trialled the AEDC in 60 communities across Australia. This involved 56,752 children, 2,157 teachers from 1,012 schools (both government and non-government) from every state and territory (with the exception of the Northern Territory). Additionally, the AEDC is based on the Early Development Instrument developed in Canada which has included over 520,000 Canadian children.

In 2009, the AEDC (formerly known as the Australian Early Development Index or AEDI) was conducted nationally for the first time, providing a snapshot of the early childhood development outcomes of children in Australia.

In 2012, the AEDC was conducted nationally for the second time. More than 95 per cent of schools with eligible children participated in each collection.

The ongoing AEDC funding will ensure that governments and communities continue to have the information they need to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families. The partnerships that have already developed, across education, health and community services, can continue to grow and build on the work already commenced.

Why use a population measure?

A population measure places the focus on the population or groups as well as the individual. The AEDC examines early childhood development across the whole community. Moving the focus of effort from the individual child to all children in the community can make a bigger difference in supporting efforts to create optimal early childhood development.

The AEDC can be used by communities, schools, policy makers, early childhood educators and health services, local councils and governments in conjunction with other resources (such as state and national statistics) to plan and evaluate efforts to support optimal early childhood development.

Will we receive our School Profile?

Data are publicly available on the AEDC website, and are reported as groups of anonymous children at community, state/territory and national levels.

Each participating school will receive access to an AEDC School Profile. This profile will provide information about the number of children attending the school who are considered to be developmentally vulnerable and those performing well, compared with all other children across Australia.

The AEDC School Profile can be used for school planning, but is not intended for general publication. The school will decide how it shares and uses its School Profile.

What other benefits does the AEDC have?

Research shows that the experiences and relationships that babies and children have during the early years strongly affect their future development. Providing the right kinds of services, resources and support during the early years brings life-long benefits to children and the community.