NSW/NT lead ECEC’s substantial lift in quality according to latest NQF snapshot
The percentage of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services rated as ‘working towards’ the National Quality Standard (NQS) has dropped to another record low, driven by substantial falls in New South Wales and the Northern Territory according to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s (ACECQA) latest NQF Snapshot.
16 per cent of all ECEC services are now rated working towards, down from 18 per cent last quarter and 22 per cent in the same period last year, with outside school hours care (OSHC) seeing a 3 per cent drop, long day care (LDC) a 2 per cent drop and preschool a 1 per cent drop.
Gains were also recorded in the family day care (FDC) setting, which has historically had a structurally higher percentage of services rated working towards. As of the end of Q4 2020 47 per cent of FDC services were rated working towards, an improvement of 2 per cent from the previous quarter and 4 per cent better than last year.
New South Wales and Northern Territory post record falls in working towards centres
The overall sector’s performance in Q4 2020 was driven somewhat by an exceptionally strong performance in NSW and the NT relative to other states and territories in the period.
NSW reported a 4 per cent drop in the percentage of services rated working towards and NT reported a 5 per cent drop – both record falls for each state and territory since the data was included in the NQF snapshot. For the NT, the drop was the largest quarterly fall on record for any state or territory since records began.
On a trend basis, both regions have seen improvements since late 2019/ early 2020 which notably for NSW was the point in time when the NSW Department of Education launched a set of key initiatives designed specifically to support quality improvement across the sector.
The gains seen since these initiatives were launched will be well received, with the data sending a strong signal that with the right support sector quality can be driven higher.
It is unclear whether similar initiatives were in place in the NT.
Queensland currently has lowest level of working towards centres
Queensland currently has the lowest level of working towards centres in Australia at just 13 per cent, followed closely by Victoria and South Australia at around 14 per cent each.
That being said although Queensland has the lowest percentage from a working towards perspective, implying higher overall quality levels, it is not from an exceeding the NQS perspective.
South Australia has a substantial number of services who exceed the NQS, with 47 per cent rated as exceeding, followed closely by the ACT with 46 per cent, compared to just 29 per cent of services in Queensland who exceed the standards.
To review the latest snapshot, please see here.