QLD still lags in preschool attendance despite numbers spike

QUEENSLAND has experienced a significant jump in the number of children attending preschool but continues to lag behind the rest of the country.

Figures published by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations showed a record 266,000 children were enrolled in preschools last year - an increase of 60,000 since 2008.

The report revealed that almost nine in 10 four- and five-year-old children were enrolled in preschool.

In Queensland, 77% of children were enrolled in preschools - up from just 29% in 2008 but below the state's 86% target for 2012.

Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory had 100% enrolment last year, followed by South Australia (97%), Tasmania and Western Australia (96%), the Northern Territory (90%) and New South Wales (89%).

Across Australia more than half (56%) of children were enrolled in a preschool for 600 hours in the year before full-time school, while 86% of four- and five-year-olds in the year before full-time school were attending a preschool program.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, signed in 2008, an early childhood education program was made available for 600 hours in the year before fulltime school to be delivered by a degree qualified early childhood teacher.

That agreement expired in June with the Commonwealth currently working with the states on implementation of plans for the next agreement focusing on universal access targets.

These targets aim to ensure all children have access to 15 hours a week of preschool education in the year before fulltime schooling.

Labor has a national target of 95% preschool enrolment by next year.