Quality improvement accelerates with LDC and private for profit services leading the way says ACECQA Snapshot
86 per cent of all early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in Australia are now rated meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS), a new record, according to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) NQF Q2 2021 Snapshot.
The increase of 2 per cent from Q1 2021 is the strongest quarterly gain since 2017 with progress being made in the private for profit governance type category and the long day care (LDC) setting category where the percentage of working towards centres fell materially.
The same can be said for family day care (FDC) but from a much higher base.
The improvements geographically were relatively evenly spread but once again New South Wales stood out as a top improver and this quarter was joined by Western Australia.
Private for profit services rated working towards sees ongoing contraction
The percentage of services rated working towards that are for profit in nature is now 17 per cent, less than half of that recorded four years ago and reflective of a broad push by owners and operators as well as regulators to improve base quality across their networks consistent with the underlying principle of “continuous improvement” that is embedded in the National Quality Framework (NQF).
The improvements are not just limited to private for profit organisations with both classes of not for profits also seeing falls in working towards rated services.
That being said it is important to note that although the percentage of not for profit services rated working towards has improved dramatically relative to not for profit, not for profit settings still have a substantially higher overall percentage of services rated as exceeding the NQS relative to for profit, a trend that has been in place for many years.
Preschools still have least WT services, but LDC and OSHC catching up
From a setting perspective significant gains continue to occur in the LDC and outside school hours care (OSHC) settings with regards to the percentage of services rated working towards the NQS with the former now reporting around 50 per cent less working towards centres than four years ago.
These consolidated figures are also broadly reflective of the underlying sub categories with private for profit LDC and OSHC services reporting 16 per cent and 15 per cent working towards centres respectively, both substantially below previous years, although the OSHC for profit setting performs much better against its not for profit peers compared to long day care.
Overall percentage of meeting, exceeding or excellent centres at new highs
The percentage of services across Australia now rated as meeting, exceeding or excellent has now reached 86 per cent, a new record.
Non-profit organisations overall have the most services rated as meeting or better along with council services, with a similar pattern playing out in the LDC and also FDC subclasses but, as noted above, in the OSHC setting private for profit services perform relatively better against their not for profit peers.
That being said, the strongest settings in the OSHC space are State/Territory and Local Government managed services which had over 89 per cent rated meeting or better.
New South Wales joins the ranks of leaders with another large WT drop
The quality improvement momentum that started in earnest in late 2019 across New South Wales has continued with the state recording another 2 per cent drop in services rated working towards taking it to 14 per cent overall, a huge reduction from the 33 per cent rated working towards reported in early 2017.
With the most recent fall NSW has now joined the ranks of Australia’s other high performing states in terms of services rated working towards, alongside Queensland at 11 per cent, Victoria at 13 per cent and South Australia at 14 per cent.
Western Australia also deserves a mention with significant reductions in working towards services over the course of the last 18 months also evident, although from a higher base.
To read the latest NQF Snapshot please click here.