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Birth to 12 years in the spotlight at Research Conference 2023

ACER news 4 minute read

Global leaders in education practice, policy and research come together in September for Research Conference 2023, 'Becoming lifelong learners: Improving the continuity of learning from birth to 12 years'.

Through our annual conference, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) provides significant opportunities at the national level for reviewing current research-based knowledge in key areas of educational policy and practice. The primary goal of these conferences is to inform educational policy and practice. We know that learning in the early years sets the foundations for children’s ongoing academic, cognitive and socio-emotional development, which is consolidated through their primary school years. So, what can we do to improve the continuity of learning?

In Australia, a new cycle of policy reform in preschool education is underway (2022-25), including a desire to establish a preschool outcome measure that is child-focused, capable of measuring growth, and available to educators to use in the classroom.

Research Conference 2023 is an opportune time to bring together educators, researchers, policymakers and others with an interest in improving learning to discuss best practice and redefine what success looks like in early learning and its connections to school-age learning. We will also explore how foundational learning supports later outcomes, including adult outcomes.

ACER has always taken a strong perspective that learning is a continuous process that begins from birth, and that the more effective the transitions across the stages of learning, the greater impact this will have on growth. However, reflections from practitioners indicate differences in priorities and language that pose hurdles to progress. With decades of evidence supporting the impact positive early learning experiences have on growth, a greater focus on this stage of learning seems essential.

The conference will focus on:

  • describing long progressions of learning that cross major transition points between educational systems 
  • monitoring learning progress effectively, including longitudinally
  • improving policy and practice, including by better connecting educational systems including long day care, preschool, and primary school
  • defining holistic development – focusing on the set of dispositions, skills and abilities that educators, policymakers and researchers should prioritise.

We are sure that the papers and discussions from this research conference will make a major contribution to the national and international literature and debate on key issues related to the preparation of young people to participate successfully in work and life.

We invite you to Research Conference 2023 and encourage you to engage in conversation with other participants, and reflect on the research and its connections to policy and practice.

To find out more or to register, visit

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