The Evidence Portal

Improving School Readiness Evidence Review

The transition to school is a pivotal life stage for both children and their families, and a significant event for educators.[1] A child’s experience of this transition can have consequences for their longer-term academic, social and wellbeing outcomes.[2],[3],[4] Improved school readiness for children is not only likely to contribute to a positive experience of starting school, but is also likely to have indirect impacts on their later educational attainment, economic opportunity, housing security, community participation, empowerment and health.

In 2021, the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) commissioned Western Sydney University to complete a rapid evidence review to identify evidence from international and Australian research about programs that improve school readiness for vulnerable children aged 0-6.  Only systematic reviews, meta-analyses, or studies that used a randomised controlled trial or quasi-experimental design were included. 

The evidence review adopted a core components approach to identify what effective programs have in common. The evidence review identified three core components of programs that contribute to improving school readiness:

  • Relationship building
  • Academic preparedness
  • Readiness of the child for the classroom

The evidence review identified 6 evidence-informed programs which contributed to an improvement in school readiness for vulnerable young children. These programs vary in setting, mode and length.

See the Evidence to Action Note (PDF, 389.2 KB) and the full report for more information about the evidence review.

For more details about how the evidence review was conducted (e.g. search strings, databases searched) see the Improving School Readiness Evidence Review Protocol (PDF, 706.0 KB).


[1] Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation 2021, Transition to school: literature review, NSW Department of Education, Sydney,

[2] OECD 2017, Starting Strong V: transitions from early childhood education and care to primary education, Starting Strong, OECD Publishing, doi:10.1787/9789264276253-en

[3] Sayers M, West S, Lorains J, Laidlaw B, Moore TG & Robinson R 2012, ‘Starting school: a pivotal life transition for children and their families’, Family Matters, vol. 90, pp. 45-56.

[4] Schulting AB, Malone PS & Dodge KA 2005, ‘The effect of school-based Kindergarten transition policies and practices on child academic outcomes’, Developmental Psychology, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 860-871,

Last updated:

02 Mar 2023

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