Encouraging insights on Cert III and Diploma commencement rates detailed in ACECQA’s NQF Annual Report
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Encouraging insights on Cert III and Diploma commencement rates detailed in ACECQA’s NQF Annual Report

Encouraging insights on Cert III and Diploma commencement rates detailed in ACECQA’s NQF Annual Report

by Jason Roberts

January 04, 2023

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has released its annual performance report, commenting on the state of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in 2022.


The report examines a range of key aspects of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and how they are being implemented with a view to providing context on key emerging and established trends impacting the Australian ECEC sector.


This year’s report includes some encouraging insights into the number of educators enrolling in Certificate III and Diploma ECEC courses also showing that increases in early childhood teacher (ECT) enrolments has also improved. 


Other areas of note this year were another year of elevated serious incident reporting, a record year for educational programming and practice measures and ongoing over representation of lower quality services in regulatory breach notices. 


“In January, we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of our regulatory system – an internationally recognised, integrated and outcomes-based framework for the children’s education and care sector,” Annette Whitehead, ACECQA Chair said.


“It is worth remembering the complex system of overlapping regulatory and quality assurance schemes that preceded the NQF and the significant reform the NQF represented when it was introduced in 2012.”


This years key trends picked up in the 2022 NQF Annual Report include (but are not limited to) the following:


  • Diploma and Cert III enrolments jump for first time in five years


The most recent data series on enrolments (2021) and completions (2019) show encouraging improvements. 


The number of educators enrolling in Certificate III and Diploma ECEC courses has increased substantially with a Certificate III enrolments up 16 per cent to 64,455 students and Diploma enrolments up 11 per cent to 49,910 students, with the combined total enrolments up 14 per cent year on year. 


The data series that tracks completion rates also showed encouraging results with Diploma qualification completions up to 62 per cent from 56 per cent last year and Cert III showing an improvement to 52 per cent too. (Page 39)


  • ECT commencements rise but completions remain in clear downward trend 


Commencement numbers for early childhood initial teacher training degrees have increased from 3,187 in 2009 to 4,288 in 2020 (the most recent data point), the highest number since 2015. Despite these increases, completion numbers for early childhood initial teacher training degrees have increased from 1,781 in 2009 to 2,051 in 2020, but the 2020 figure is the lowest since 2012. 


In addition to decreasing numbers of students completing early childhood and primary initial teacher training degrees, students are taking longer to complete their studies than in previous years. (Page 41)


  • Serious incident reports remain elevated with LDC higher than other settings


After a significant jump in 2021 the rate of serious incidents reported across the ECEC sector stabilised at 124 per 100 approved services this year, compared to 125 in the previous year. Long day care however, saw a further step up in incidents from 173 to 177 per 100 services, higher than other settings. This is likely a function of size given it caters for the largest number of children relative to others. Notably, higher quality services, ie: those rated meeting or exceeding the NQS continue to report substantially more cases than working towards services. (Page 17) 


  • Lower quality services and FDC dominate confirmed breaches identified


Although the rate of confirmed breaches moderated in 2022 from record levels last year, the family day care setting remains the primary driver with 441 breaches per 100 services compared to 210 in LDC and 162 overall. 


Unlike serious incidents, which are voluntarily reported by services, confirmed breaches are identified by assessors with levels at lower quality rated services highest. 


This year the absolute number of breaches identified at working towards services fell from 388 to 327 per 100 services, but breaches at meeting and exceeding services both rose, with the increase in meeting services quite large. (Page 22)


  • s167 and s165 dominate Law breaches, r97 and r103 lead Regulation breaches 


Failure to protect children from harm and hazards (s167) and inadequate supervision of children (s165) make up 53 per cent of all breaches of National law. Having oscillated between 46 per cent and 48 per cent of breaches between 2017 and 2021, this year’s increase marked a significant increase to 53 per cent, signalling an increased likelihood of this type of serious breach occurring. 


In the Regulations area Emergency and evacuation procedures (r97) and premises, furniture and equipment to be safe, clean and in good repair (r103) made up 25 per cent of breaches, also a new high level, and much higher than the 18 per cent reported in 2017. (Page 24)


  • Educational program and practice quality reaches new high as preschool leads 


As at 30 June 2022, 91 per cent of services are rated Meeting NQS or above in quality area 1, the highest proportion since the introduction of the NQF in 2012., 


Preschools and kindergartens continue to have the highest proportion of services rated as Meeting NQS or above, followed by long day care, outside school hours care and family day care services. 


While family day care services continue to have the lowest proportion of services rated Meeting NQS or above, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) are rated Meeting NQS or above, the highest proportion to date and a sharp recovery from the just 49 per cent reported in 2017. (Page 26)


Elsewhere the proportion of services with staffing waivers was highlighted as an area of concern with ACECQA saying “The recent high proportions follow the introduction of new staffing requirements on 1 January 2020 and the ongoing impact of COVID-19” and that “As at 30 June 2022, 15 per cent of long day care services hold a staffing waiver, compared with 3 per cent of preschools /  kindergartens and 2 per cent of outside school hours care services.”


The National Quality Framework (NQF) Annual Performance Report is released each year as part of ACECQA’s responsibility to evaluate and report on the implementation and administration of the NQF as detailed in the Education and Care Services National Law. 


Annual reporting also includes NQF Snapshots, national audits, occasional papers as well as the Annual Performance Review. 


To read the 2022 National Quality Framework (NQF) Annual Performance Report please click here

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