Prior ECE participation and ECE Intensity
Participation in Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been shown to positively impact literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills well into the teenage years. Studies have shown that high-quality ECE also leads to better social outcomes [7,9,10]. ECE participation has been identified as an important factor in supporting vulnerable children and there has been a strong emphasis on increasing participation across New Zealand in recent years (with the target level of 98% having been set in 2012).
This indicator presents the proportion of Year 1 entrants who had regularly attended ECE (booked each week/fortnight, and generally attended) in the sixth months prior to starting school, using Ministry of Education data. Breakdowns of the data show participation in ECE separately for each Territorial Authority, and for greater Christchurch by ethnicity. In addition, Figures 1.1b and 1.2b present the proportion of children attending early childhood education for 10 or more hours a week on average when aged 4 (intensity of ECE attendance).
In greater Christchurch, participation in ECE has stayed above the national target for several years, remaining steady at over 98 percent (98.6% in 2021). Nationally, participation in ECE has steadily increased over time, with 96.8 percent of new entrants having attended ECE in the year ending December 2021.
The figure shows that the proportion of children reaching 10 hours of ECE attendance a week on average is notably higher for the Canterbury region than for New Zealand overall, in 2022 (81% and 74%, respectively). The 2020-2022 results are unadjusted for the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdowns and may mostly reflect the impact of COVID-19 on ECE participation - since the New Zealand results being largely driven by Auckland.
The figure shows high and stable ECE participation rates for European/Pākehā children in greater Christchurch for the period 2010–2021 (99.1% in 2021). The figure also shows increasing ECE participation for Māori and Asian children, with both groups reaching the national target for this indicator by 2016, although participation for Māori has subsequently fallen below the target (97.4% for Māori in 2021). ECE participation for Pacific children has also been trending upwards in recent years, and the rate almost reached the national target in 2018, before declining substantially to 93.9% in 2021. ECE participation rates show greater variability for non-European/Pākehā groups due to smaller absolute numbers.
The figure shows high and stable ECE participation rates for children in medium and high decile schools in greater Christchurch for the period 2010–2022 (97.1% and 98.2%, respectively, 2022). The figure also shows steadily increasing ECE participation for children in low decile schools over the same time period, with this group reaching the national target for this indicator in 2016 (97.8% in 2022).
Source: Ministry of Education.
Survey/data set: Ministry of Education ENROL Database [for ECE participation] and Early Learning Information (ELI) System [for ECE Intensity]. Access publicly available data from the Education Counts website www.educationcounts.govt.nz
Source data frequency: Annually.