Quality improvement remains evident despite fall COVID-19, says latest ACECQA snapshot

by Jason Roberts

August 11, 2020

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s (ACECQA) latest NQF Snapshot, paints a positive picture of early childhood education and care (ECEC) quality trends despite rating and assessment visits conducted in the period falling substantially. 

 

The fall in visits was a function of a decision by the Education Council to suspend rating and assessments for a limited period of time so as to support the ECEC sector as it managed the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak and impact on operations. 

 

Overall, however, quality in the sector, as measured by reductions in the number of services marked “working towards” the National Quality Standard (NQS) showed broad based improvements with the overall percentage of “working towards” services now sitting at 19 per cent of all services, the lowest level on record, with all settings and most governance types reaching new low levels. 

 

 

It is likely these improvements reflect the outcomes of visits conducted in the March quarter 2020 period that were finalised in the June quarter and hence captured in the most recent data. 

 

Long day care, family day care and outside school hours care see gains 

Across the four ECEC setting types, namely family day care (FDC), outside school hours care (OHSC), long day care (LDC) and kindergarten/preschool all showed reductions in the percentage of services rated “working towards” the NQS. 

 

 

Of particular note was the kindergarten/preschool setting which recorded six per cent of services rated working towards, down from seven per cent in previous measures, and FDC settings which recorded the first quarter at below 50 per cent, coming in at 49 per cent. 

 

LDC fell one per cent to a low of 18 per cent working towards, and OSHC fell one per cent to a low of 25 per cent working towards. 

 

For profit provider and community not for profit both show improvements 

Across the three main governance types, both private for profit and community managed not for profit settings saw improvements with the other larger category, not for profit other organisations, remaining stable.  

 

 

Specifically, for profit providers, which include LDC, FDC, OSHC and kindergarten/preschool, recorded 24 per cent of all services rated working towards, a one percentage point improvement on the previous quarter and a three per cent improvement on last year and community managed not for profit also saw a one percent improvement to 14 per cent. 

 

The not for profit other category was steady at 12 per cent. 

 

New South Wales the big mover with 2 per cent fall in working towards services

From a state perspective, the big improver this quarter is New South Wales which has seen a two percentage point reduction in “working towards” the NQS ratings from 25 per cent to 23 per cent. 

 

 

The general trend across all states is lower with the exception of the ACT which saw an increase in “working towards” services to 25 per cent, up 1 percent from the previous quarter. 

 

Services retaining exceeding post reassessment settling around 50 per cent

The percentage of services that manage to retain their exceeding rating after reassessment has come in at 50 per cent for the second consecutive quarter and for the third time in the last five quarters, strongly suggesting the stabilisation of the negative trend that commenced in early 2018 with the introduction of more stringent “assessing exceeding centre” guidelines.

 

 

The reassessment outcomes across other categories were broadly stable relative to the previous period. 

 

Looking ahead, the impact of COVID-19 and related regulatory measures that have reduced the volume of rating and assessment related service visits in the June quarter of 2020 and beyond will inevitably impact the statistics reported going forward with expectations that overall quality ratings remain static until ACECQA can recommence their assessment programs in earnest. 

To read the latest ACECQA snapshot please click here.

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