Prior participation in early childhood education

Why This Is Important

Early Childhood Education (ECE) Participation has been identified as a key factor in supporting vulnerable children, which led to its inclusion in the Better Public Services Programme, launched in 2012. This Programme aimed to increase participation in early childhood education to 98% of all new entrants by 2016.

Participation in high quality ECE has significant benefits for children and their future learning ability. Some studies have found that engagement in ECE helps to develop strong foundations for future learning success (Statistics NZ and Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 2010).These effects apply to all children but may be particularly important for building academic achievement in children from poorer communities and socio-economic backgrounds (ibid, and Mitchell, et al, 2008).

ECE has been shown to positively impact literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills well into the teenage years, while other studies have shown that high quality ECE encourages the development of cognitive and attitudinal competencies, and leads to higher levels of achievement and better social outcomes (Mitchell, et al, 2008, OECD, 2013, Statistics NZ and Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, 2010, and Wylie et al, 2009).

International and longitudinal studies have also found that participation in high quality ECE can translate into improved longer-term outcomes. Several studies have identified links between participation in ECE and better social and economic outcomes for children when they reach older ages (Wylie et al, 2009). This link is, again, strong for disadvantaged children. Some studies have also identified positive relationships between ECE participation and the affect on wider societal outcomes; for example, ensuring participation in the labour force and in building labour force capability (Ministry of Women's Affairs, 2004).


Prior participation in ECE shows prior participation in ECE for children starting school.

Numerator: (Data Source: Ministry of Education: Enrol)
Number of children who had regularly attended ECE in the sixth months prior to starting school.

Denominator: (Data Source: Ministry of Education: Enrol).
The number of children who had regularly attended ECE + number who had not regularly attended ECE.
The number of students with unknown prior ECE attendance has been excluded (from both the numerator and denominator) when calculating participation rates.  

Each year of data is made up of students who are New Zealand citizens or residents and started school between 1 January to 31 December.

Interpretation Issues

Students who identify with more than one ethnic group have been counted in each group they identified with. The figure in the 'Total' column will therefore generally be less than the sum of the students in each group.