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Ratios for four and five year olds: What does the research say? What else is important?

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Friendly, Martha; Ferns, Carolyn & Prabhu, Nina
Publication Date: 
1 Jun 2009
PDF icon Ratio review 2009.pdf672.93 KB

With ratios and class sizes in the news again, we're featuring a BRIEFING NOTE of a literature review that we wrote on the topic in 2009. The full literature review is also available here (PDF).


Research and expert perspectives agree that one of the key elements that determines the quality of an early childhood education and care program is the number of adults to children - the ratio. However, it is also clear that the adult: child ratio is not the sole quality-determining element. Other important elements, especially training and qualifications, interact with ratio to form the structural and pedagogical base for quality in an ECEC program.

This BRIEFing NOTE reviews research and expert opinion from the child care, kindergarten and blended ECEC program literature to consider what is known about effects of staff: child ratios on child outcomes and program quality for four and five year olds, and what other key factors should be taken into account.