Publications filter

a-review-effects-early-childhood-education-coverA review of the effects of early childhood education (PDF, 1013kB)

The information on this page is also available as a one-page summary (PDF, 171kB).


This literature review summarises evidence of the relationship between early childhood education and cognitive and noncognitive outcomes for children. It also summarises evidence from a number of international longitudinal studies and randomised control trials. Australian evidence, though limited, has also been summarised.


Main findings

High quality early childhood education can improve children’s cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes
High-quality early childhood education is robustly associated with positive outcomes at school entry. Children who participate in early childhood education have higher cognitive and noncognitive development than children who do not participate. The benefits of early childhood education are stronger at higher levels of duration (years) and intensity (hours) of attendance. However, most early childhood education interventions yield short-term outcomes, with effects ‘fading out’ between one to three years after the intervention. The Australian evidence base on early childhood education effects is relatively limited. The extent to which early childhood education affects Australian children's development is largely unknown.
Disadvantaged children stand to gain the most from high quality early childhood education
High-quality early childhood education is particularly beneficial for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, as early childhood education provides cognitive and non-cognitive stimulation not available in the home learning environment. Interventions are best provided in the earliest years of life, as these yield higher developmental, social, and economic returns than interventions provided at later stages. Early childhood education interventions help to reduce inequalities in educational outcomes for disadvantaged children at the time of school entry. Small-scale, intensive early childhood education interventions (such as the well-known High/Scope Perry Preschool and Abecedarian programs), that incorporate additional components such as parenting programs and home visits from teachers are found to be most effective. Compared to more universal programs, smaller-scale, intensive interventions produce longer-term outcomes.

The positive effects of early childhood education programs are contingent upon, and proportionate to, their quality
The provision of high-quality early childhood education is beneficial for learning and development. Early childhood education quality typically comprises structural quality (characteristics such as the teacher to child ratio) and process quality (nature of interactions between children; their environment; and teachers and peers). A policy lever that will increase the positive effects of early childhood education participation is an increase in educational quality.

Recent analysis of early childhood education quality in Australia undertaken by Melbourne University’s E4Kids study, shows that there remains substantial room for quality improvement in Australian jurisdictions, including NSW.


Published in Research report

Language participation in NSW secondary schools (PDF, 7MB).

This paper reviews school and classroom factors which can increase participation in languages in secondary schools. It is a companion piece to CESE's case studies on language participation in NSW secondary schools.

Download Language participation in NSW secondary schools (PDF, 7MB).

Published in Research report

Sexuality gender education review 2017

Author: William Louden

Year: 2017

URL or PDF: Download the review of sexuality and gender education (PDF, 990kB).

Summary: The NSW Department of Education commissioned a review of departmental resources that relate to sexuality and gender in October 2016. The review compares the NSW resources with international curriculum materials, provides an analysis of the Teacher Toolbox and Crossroads resources, and includes a set of findings about the appropriateness of the NSW resources.

The literature review draws on curriculum documents available in English. These typically take the form of national, state or school district sex education laws, syllabuses and resources. National summaries are provided for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore.


Published in Evaluation repository

anti bullying thumb

Anti-bullying interventions literature review (PDF, 1.1MB)

One-page summary (PDF, 251kB)

Evidence summary poster for school staffrooms

Anti-bullying interventions myPL course 


This literature review provides the evidence base for the department’s anti-bullying strategy. Released in 2017, the NSW Anti-bullying Strategy brings together evidence-based resources and information to support schools, parents and carers, and students to prevent and respond to bullying effectively.
Bullying can be face-to-face, covert or online. It has three main features: it involves repeated actions, is intended to cause distress or harm, and is grounded in an imbalance of power.

In 2015, 14.8 per cent of Australian students reported being bullied at least a few times per month. Bullying peaks during the transition from primary school to high school, before decreasing to low levels by the end of high school. Boys tend to bully more than girls, however, girls use more covert bullying than boys.

Main findings

Anti-bullying programs reduce bullying behaviours by an average of 20 – 23 per cent.

The most effective anti-bullying interventions:

• take a holistic, whole-school and whole-community approach, which includes promoting awareness of anti-bullying interventions

• include educational content in the classroom that allows students to develop social and emotional competencies, and to learn appropriate ways to respond to bullying – both as a student who experiences bullying and as a bystander

• provide support and sustainable professional development for school staff on how best to enhance understanding, skills and self-efficacy to address and prevent bullying behaviours

• ensure systematic implementation and evaluation.

There are Australian and international examples of whole-schools approaches that have the characteristics common to effective anti-bullying interventions and have been subjected to program evaluations. Australian examples are the National Safe Schools Framework, Positive Behaviour for Learning, Friendly Schools, KidsMatter and MindMatters. International examples are the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (Norway), Sheffield Anti-Bullying Project (England), Seville Anti-Bullying in School Project (Spain) and KiVa Anti-Bullying Program (Finland).
Schools need greater support to maximise the outcomes of anti-bullying interventions and to identify what is likely to be successful based on their specific contexts and requirements. There is very little available currently in the way of specific advice to guide schools in their choice of anti-bullying programs.

More information

Visit the department's anti-bullying website.

Related publications:

The role of student engagement in the transition from primary to secondary school. 


Evidence summary poster for school staffrooms

To help share the evidence, Anti-bullying interventions is available as a summary poster (PDF, 1.4MB)

What does the poster say?

  • In 2015, 14.8% of Australian students reported being bullied at least a few times per month.
  • Bullying peaks during the transition from primary school to high school.
    It decreases to low levels by the end of high school. Boys tend to bully more than girls, however, girls use more covert bullying than boys.

  • Anti-bullying programs reduce bullying behaviours by an average of 20-23%.

The NSW Anti-bullying Strategy

In 2017, the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) released a literature review on effective anti-bullying interventions in schools. This review became the evidence base for the NSW Department of Education’s Anti-bullying Strategy. This strategy brings together evidence-based resources and information to support schools, parents and carers, and students to prevent and respond to bullying effectively.
Bullying can be face-to-face, covert or online.

It has three main features:
• it involves repeated actions
• is intended to cause distress or harm, and
• is grounded in an imbalance of power.
The most effective anti-bullying interventions:
• take a holistic, whole-school and whole-community approach
• include educational content in the classroom that allows students to learn appropriate ways to respond to bullying
• provide support and sustainable professional development for school staff
• ensure systematic implementation and evaluation.

Published in Research report

Child Protection Respectful Relps Ed Best Prac

Authors: Ciara Smyth, Ilan Katz

Evaluator company/business: Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), University of New South Wales

Year: 2016

URL or Pdf: Download the report on Child Protection and Respectful Relationships Education and Best Practice in School Settings (PDF, 750kB)

Summary: This report aims to inform planning for enhancements to current child protection education programs. It provides a detailed review of child protection education literature, resources, and expert advice, and includes: identification of the elements of best practice; review findings to date of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; review of current approaches and resources in child protection education; review of one-off school programs/performances; and consultation with stakeholders. It clearly and concisely distils and compares key elements, and identifies common themes and the most important issues in child protection education. The report concludes that the NSW Department of Education's approach to child protection education is generally consistent with best practice, but would benefit from inbuilt evaluation and some revision. 

Published in Evaluation repository


CESE’s Rural and remote literature review (PDF, 1.3MB) explores data revealing differences in educational outcomes for students in rural and remote, and metropolitan areas of NSW.

Published in Research report

Great Teaching, Inspired learning

High-quality teaching is the greatest in-school influence on student engagement and outcomes. Given current concerns about Australia’s declining performance on international assessments, particularly when compared with high-performing Asian and other countries, there is significant interest in the contribution that high-quality teaching can make to improving educational results.

Download the full publication (PDF, 1.7MB).

Published in Research report

Publications advanced search

Accessible documents

If you find a CESE publication is not accessible, please contact us