Quality improvements continue in Q3-20 despite COVID-19, says latest ACECQA snapshot
The percentage of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services rated as ‘working towards’ the National Quality Standard has dropped to a record low helped by further falls at for profit and not for profit services that are not community managed according to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s (ACECQA) latest NQF Snapshot.
18 per cent of all ECEC services are now rated ‘working towards’, down from 19 per cent in the previous quarter and 21 per cent in the same period last year and at a new record low level.
The fall this quarter was driven by the for profit segment which recorded its fourth consecutive quarterly fall and now sits at 23 per cent of services rated working towards, and the not for profit segment that is not community managed which also recorded its fourth consecutive quarterly fall and now sits at 11 per cent of services rated working towards.
Of note is that continued reduction in the percentage of for profit services rated working towards that has seen the gap between it and it’s not for profit peers materially over time reduce over time.
That being said, there is still substantial room to improve for the for profit segment, particularly in the for profit long day care space where 22 per cent of services are rated working towards which compares to just 7 per cent in not for profit organisations that are not community run and 14 per cent that are.
Significant reductions in reassessments due to COVID sees outcomes stable
A total of 162 services were assessed in the three months ended September 2020, down from 451 in the June quarter and 969 in the same period last year with the reduction attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, its interesting to note the post reassessment ratings for services rated exceeding have remained largely stable over the course of the 24 months after the step change lower that was precipitated by new exceeding rating guidance issued by ACECQA in early 2018.
With respect to services rated working towards prior to reassessment around one third retained the rating post reassessment with the balance seeing improvements to meeting or exceeding.
This trend has been in tact for a number of years and is reflected in the cumulative totals and the quarterly totals, although last quarter did see the proportion of services rated as ‘working towards’ pre and post assessment fall to just 14 per cent, the best result on record.
New South Wales remains standout from improvement perspective
Once again New South Wales has recorded further reductions in the percentage of services rated working towards the National Quality Standard as it continues to make inroads into its relatively high working toward count.
South Australia also saw a reduction in the period to 14 per cent of services rated working towards, equalling Victoria and one percentage point higher than Queensland’s levels.
Looking ahead, now that the COVID-19 threat is beginning to subside in some parts of the country, it is expected that rating and assessment and reassessment visits will start to increase again across the States and Territories of Australia.
To read the latest NQF snapshot please click here.