Quality under pressure and supply still elevated according to latest ACECQA Snapshot

by Jason Roberts

November 09, 2018

The overall proportion of centres improving their quality ratings at reassessment continues to fall, with another large rise in previously “Exceeding” rated centres being reassessed downwards to “Meeting” Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)  data released yesterday has shown.

 

The September 2018 NQF Snapshot confirms that of the 686 “Exceeding” centres that have undergone reassessment, 327 centres have seen their rating fall to “Working towards” or “Meeting.”

 

This represents 48 per cent of “Exceeding” centres seeing a fall in quality rating and compares unfavourably with September 2017 when only 38 per cent of reassessed centres had seen falls.

 

This trend appears to have accelerated in 2018 as assessors implement ACECQA’s stricter new guidance for determining exceeding NQS for standards.

 

The proportion of centres that have maintained their “Exceeding” rating after reassessment now stands at 52 per cent, a full 10 per cent lower than this time last year.

 

Further, it is notable that for “Meeting” rated centres that have been reassessed 23 per cent saw their rating improve to “Exceeding”. This compares to 31 per cent as at Q3 2017.

 

Other highlights from the quality segment include:

 

  • 14,794 or 94 per cent of all services have now been assessed and 5,608 or 35 per cent have been through a reassessment
  • 47 per cent of all services are private for profit; 22 per cent are private not for profit community managed; 13 per cent are private not for profit other; 8 per cent are state and local government managed
  • Private for profit services have 29 per cent of their services rated as “Working Towards” an improvement of 5 per cent compared to last year and private not for profit have 15 per cent rated as “Working Towards” an improvement of 2 per cent compared to last year
  • LDC services have seen a reduction in “Working Towards” with 20 per cent of centres now rated as such. This is down from 25 per cent last year.  FDC has seen the number of “Working Towards” centres increase from 53 per cent to 54 per cent
  • South Australia has highest percentage of “Exceeding” services at 48 per cent and Victoria has the lowest percentage of “Working towards” services  at 16 per cent
  • Family Day Care (FDC) has 15 per cent rated “Exceeding”; Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) has 16 per cent rated ‘Exceeding”; Long Day Care (LDC) has 31 per cent rated “Exceeding”; and Preschool 59 per cent
  • Quality area 1 – Educational programming and practice saw the largest percentage of “Working Towards” ratings at 16 per cent with specific challenges around assessment and planning cited
  • Quality area 5 – Collaborative partnerships saw the highest proportion of services rates “Exceeding” although standards 6.1 and 6.2 in the collaborative partnership segment had the highest percentage of “Exceeding” at 21 per cent for both

 

Supply of new centres continues to rise

 

The total number of approved centre based services in the period has increased 2 per cent compared to the same period last year.

 

The total number of LDC centres increased by 85 from last quarter, to 7,540. This represents a 4.3 per cent increase in centres compared to last year. This rate of increase is higher than the 3.9 per cent year on year increase experienced in September 2017.

 

Growth in new outside school hours care (OSHC) centres was moderate at 1.2 per cent year on year.

 

FDC services continued their sharp decline with 40 services closing in the quarter. FDC has seen 383 services close in the last three years, a drop of 35 per cent.

 

A tighter regulatory environment and increased scrutiny in the wake of a spate of fraud prosecutions has prompted closures of FDC services across the country.

 

Other highlights from the supply segment include:

 

  • South Australia saw the largest percentage increase in new LDC centres and recorded a 6.8 per cent increase year on year
  • Victoria saw the second largest increase of new LDC centres at 6.6 per cent but this rate of growth was lower than experienced in September 2017
  • New South Wales saw the lowest rate of LDC growth of the larger states at 3.4 per cent, fractionally higher than experienced last year
  • New OSHC services are growing most rapidly in NSW and Western Australia at 3.1 per cent and 2.0 per cent year on year respectively
  • NSW has seen an acceleration in new OSHC openings and VIC a deceleration
  • The percentage of FDC services that are being closed in SA and VIC continues to be very high whereas rates of closure in NSW and WA remain elevated but have slowed
  • The number of preschools in the period was broadly stable although the ACT saw 2 closures taking the year on year fall to 3.2 per cent

 

The December 2018 ACECQA snapshot is expected to be released in or around the first week of February 2019.

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