Department Research Guides Early Education Reform in Australia

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Category: News

The Australian state of Victoria has announced universal state-funded Early Education for all 3-year-olds based upon results from research led by department professors, Ted Melhuish, Iram Siraj, Kathy Sylva and Pam Sammons. This social, economic and educational reform of the provision of early childhood education will be the largest in the state’s history and a first for the country.

The DfE-funded research project on Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) examined the educational attainment and social development of children from pre-school to the end of key stage 4 over a seven year period. It showed that pre-school education from 3-5 years of age could improve educational and social development at the start of school. These benefits were found to be long-lasting and also led to improved educational attainment and better social development through to the end of school.

Under the re-elected Andrews Labour Government, every Victorian-born child will now start kindergarten a year earlier, giving them the skills and experiences they need to be ready for school. The state will invest almost $5 billion over the next decade, with the reforms being rolled out to six local government areas by 2020 and to a further 15 local government areas during 2021. This will ultimately affect the lives of millions of children.

Ted Melhuish, Professor of Human Development in the department and one of the study’s Principal Investigators, said: “Studies in many countries have now supported the ground-breaking EPPSE research in finding that pre-school education, particularly if high quality, has long-lasting benefits for all children. The benefits are such that all countries should regard good quality pre-school education as an essential part of the infrastructure for economic development.”

Ted Melhuish has been consulted by ministers and government officials in Australian states and federal government over the last six years and most recently in Victoria. In addition Iram Siraj was an investigator on supporting research in Australia. The EPPSE research has influenced policy in multiple countries including Canadian provinces, Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Norway and Germany and is still on-going.

Discover more about the research programme and its findings here.


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.