How do we provide quality early education that sets all children up for life’s opportunities? University of Queensland researchers are on a path to interrogate this important question, supported by $3.3 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Queensland Brain Institute Professor Karen Thorpe was recently announced as an ARC Laureate Fellow and will receive funding over the next five years to investigate what constitutes quality early education and care programs, particularly in the most vulnerable communities.
Professor Thorpe explained a child’s experiences in their first five years shape their brain’s architecture, and impact how they fare at school and in life.
“10,000 hours – this is the time an Australian child can spend in early care and education programs before they enter school,” Professor Thorpe said.
“This is a period of critical developmental, yet, unfortunately, nearly one in four Australian children enter school developmentally vulnerable and don’t do so well. Most of these children live in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.
“Through our research and work with industry partners, we aim to understand why many programs do not deliver on the promise of quality education and highlight examples of programs that work well.
“Australia invests tens of billions of dollars each year in early education and care, and it’s important to ensure as a nation that we’re delivering the highest quality learning opportunities for our children. This study will contribute new knowledge to support this promise.”
Professor Thorpe’s research is a large-scale, longitudinal study of 600 Queensland children in early education and care in diverse settings and geographic locations.
“Thanks to the Queensland Government’s vision, our research will extend beyond the child’s initial five years.
“Using school records, we will be able to track the students’ progress from early education and right to the end of their school years.
“Ultimately, I hope this research will inform policy and practice that improves children’s experiences in their early life, promotes development and learning when they enter school and supports ongoing opportunities in their lives,” Professor Thorpe said.
Professor Thorpe’s research builds on work by the Science of Learning Centre, a collaboration between the Australian Council for Educational Research and QBI, to understand effective teaching and learning practices.
Media contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org Merrett Pye +61 (0)422 096 049 or Elaine Pye +61 (0)415 222 606