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Secondary outcomes at the ECEC room level will be measures of environmental quality derived from full-day observations.In all cases, data collectors will be blinded to group allocation.
Over recent years, the number of children participating in ECEC services across Australia has increased by 39.5% from 2004 to 2012 [8, 9].
While ECEC attendance in NSW is moving toward a universal provision, there remain questions about the prevalence of high-quality ECEC.
The Fostering Effective Early Learning (FEEL) study is a cluster randomised controlled trial for evaluating the benefits of a professional development (PD) programme for early childhood educators, compared with no extra PD.
Ninety long-day care and preschool centres in New South Wales, Australia, will be selected to ensure representation across National Quality Standards (NQS) ratings, location, centre type and socioeconomic areas.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN) identifier ACTRN12616000536460. This trial was retrospectively registered, given the first participant (centre) had been enrolled at the time of registration.
There is widespread consensus that attendance in early childhood education and care (ECEC) is likely to confer a benefit on children .The National Quality Framework (NQF) and Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) [6, 7], for instance, have identified structural and process quality indicators that are important for enhancing child outcomes.These state and national initiatives include measures to improve adult-to-child ratios, introduction of minimum qualifications, regulation based on nationally recognised standards of practice and improvements in curriculum and reporting requirements.Recently, positive long-term associations were documented between ECEC attendance and a range of learning outcomes in national assessments at 8 years of age (i.e. However, closer inspection of these results showed that the greatest benefits were for children whose preschool teacher held a degree or diploma qualification .Consistent with such findings, the Early Years Workforce Strategy 2012–2016 recognises the importance of a skilled workforce in ensuring ‘the delivery of high-quality ECEC services’ .Indeed, there is strong evidence from independent sources that the benefits of ECEC are moderated by the quality of provision .Recent initiatives in Australia have begun to recognise the short- and long-term benefits of investing in ECEC.Nonparticipation in ECEC programmes places children at a developmental disadvantage both academically and socially [2, 3].Furthermore, national surveys  and longitudinal research  show the enduring benefits that high-quality ECEC provides into adolescence and beyond . and Siraj and Kingston  have concluded, based on international evidence, that the following characteristics of ECEC quality are particularly important for enhancing children’s development: Many studies have recognised that while physical resources are necessary for quality ECEC, the most important ingredient for quality provision is the quality of the staff who work with the children and families .Cooke and Lawson  reported that improving the quality of ECEC and learning outcomes for children required a highly skilled workforce.