The Competent Children project aims to provide New Zealand policymakers and the early childhood education sector with a study which could shows the concurrent, short-term, and long-term impact of early childhood education experience. The study has tracked the development of a group of about 500 Wellington region children. The study has charted these children's cognitive, social and attitudinal competencies from when they were close to 5 years of age and still in early childhood education, and aims to continue this process until they leave school. It analyses the impact of different experiences and resources on a range of competencies, and explores what factors can help narrow the gaps between children. Competent Children at 12 is the fifth stage of the study.
One of the main findings of the study has been that early childhood education makes a lasting contribution to children's competency levels. Quality of teacher support for children's learning and their interaction with children is particularly important.