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  • Research

A child’s first five years last a lifetime

Investing in the first five years of a child’s life has a huge impact on their later learning and life outcomes. In these early years, 80 per cent of a child’s brain development occurs.
At Goodstart, we invest in research to fund the discovery of what works best for children and their learning, development and wellbeing – both in the short and long-term.
It’s important work. According to the 2015 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) one in five of Australia’s children are starting school developmentally vulnerable.

Around one third of the children in our Goodstart centres come from low income families who are most at risk of being developmentally vulnerable.
Of the children starting school vulnerable, they are behind in at least one area of their development, including communication skills and general knowledge, social competence, language and cognitive skills, emotional maturity and/or physical health and wellbeing.

Research shows that children who start school behind are often left behind, making their first five years their most important years to set them up to succeed at school and life.
Our research and evaluation activity is driven by our vision, for Australia’s children to have the best possible start in life, and purpose to ensure children have the learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life.

Research at Goodstart

We commission and collaborate in research to advance national and international research into early childhood education.

Our research goals are:

  • To create better early childhood education environments for children and families through evidence-informed practice
  • For Goodstart educators to benefit from meaningful participation in research and evaluation
  • To generate and disseminate evidence that leads to better practice and policy throughout the sector.
Our priority research areas seek positive outcomes for:
  • Speech and language development
  • Social/emotional wellbeing and thinking skills.
These vital areas of child development are enabled by family partnerships and community connections.

Current Research

We are committed to embedding evidenced-based, best practice research in the planning and delivery of our high quality early learning and care programs.
Since 2010, we have invested resources to help improve Australia’s evidence base for early childhood practice.
We partner with universities on research projects that will add to the early learning body of evidence, benefiting Goodstart, our families, children and staff and the wider early learning sector.
Read about some of the current research underway that Goodstart has commissioned, funded or provided in-kind support to. These include two Australian Research Linkage Projects.

Australian Research Linkage Projects
What’s best for my child? | University of Sydney
Identifying effective strategies to grow and sustain a professional years workforce | Queensland University of Technology

Major commissioned and collaborative research
Goodstart Practice Guide Evaluation | University of Wollongong
Professional Development in prior to school settings: technology integration through practitioner inquiry projects | Charles Sturt University
Pathways to Excellence | Charles Sturt University
Researching Effective Early Learning (REEL) | University of Wollongong


Part of the Evidence and Insights Series:
“It changed our lives” A case study on the Impact of Additional Child Care Subsidy | Written by Sandie Wong, with analysis conducted by Gregor Schenke, Kate Liley, Kelly Millar and Myra Geddes.

To find out more about current research projects click here.

Goodstart Thought Leaders Program

Our Goodstart Thought Leaders Advisory Group (TLAG) is designed to fully engage the organisation with the best early learning research and thinking around the world.
The TLAG comprises leading national and international academics and sector leaders. Each year the group is engaged around best-available evidence and how it can be most effectively adopted into Goodstart services and how evidence can engage the sector, business and government to drive policy change for the betterment of children and families.

Members of the group are consulted year-round on key Goodstart initiatives.

International early childhood expert, Professor Jane Bertrand, a member of the TLAG, was the lead author of The Goodstart Practice Guide. The guide contains evidence-informed practices proven to achieve positive outcomes for children’s language development, thinking skills, and social-emotional and physical wellbeing. It is a resource used by our educators to plan, deliver and evaluate our early learning and care programs.

View our discussion papers
Our TLAG commissioned several discussion papers that inform Goodstart’s research focus on key outcomes areas for optimal child development.

Information for researchers

Studies on the developing human brain show that a quality early learning experience in the first five years will give a child the best possible start in life. These early learning and positive life experiences can have life-long benefits. Therefore, our organisation’s purpose to ensure children have the learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life drives our research and evaluation activities.

The size and scale of our network means that Goodstart is uniquely positioned to commission and collaborate in research and evaluation that will increase knowledge about how best to support and optimise children’s learning, development and wellbeing – improving our national human capital potential well into the future.

Research proposals

All proposals to conduct research with Goodstart are considered on an individual basis by the relevant business area in consultation with the National Research Manager.
It is highly recommended that prospective researchers discuss their proposed research with the Goodstart before developing a full proposal for consideration. Proposals that meet Goodstart’s initial selection criteria, are then consulted with the relevant business areas.

Research initial selection criteria
  • Does the research address Goodstart’s priority research areas?
  • Does the proposed research meet Goodstart’s principles and standards for research participation?
  • Is the research likely to contribute to better early learning and care environments for children and their families?
  • Are Goodstart educators likely to benefit from meaningful participation in the research?
  • Is the research likely to generate evidence that leads to better practice and policy throughout the sector?
  • Is there organisational capacity to support the research?

For further information regarding research opportunities and Goodstart’s assessment process, please contact