A&R visits still at record highs but improved ratings hard to come by
The Sector > Provider > General News > A&R visits still at record highs but improved ratings harder to come by says NQF Snapshot

A&R visits still at record highs but improved ratings harder to come by says NQF Snapshot

by Jason Roberts

August 21, 2023
Quality early education yard

A total of 1,239 assessment and rating related visits were conducted by Regulatory Authorities (RA) in the three months to June 2023, the second highest level on record, according to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s (ACECQA) quarterly NQF Snapshot


The robust levels of visits are set against a backdrop of 91 per cent of all services currently having a rating against the National Quality Standard (NQS) which is around 3 per cent lower than levels recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic suggesting the sustained high level of visits may reflect some RAs trying to catch up.


NQF snapshot - assessment and rating visits


This may particularly be the case in Victoria and Western Australia which have just 87 per cent and 82 per cent respectively of services with NQS ratings compared to 94 per cent or more services in South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland. 


Visits up but re-assessments not seeing meaningful rating improvements 


933 services went through a re-assessment process in the three months to June 2023, the highest quarterly amount of such visits since December 2019, however the proportion of services that were able to secure a rating above their previous rating has fallen back to just 16 per cent.


NQF snapshot - assessment and rating improvement


Notably, the fall back has not been driven by Working Towards services failing to improve their ratings but instead it has been Meeting services that are finding it very difficult to secure an exceeding rating with just 9 per cent managing to do so in the period, much lower than the long term averaged of close to 15 per cent. 


Meeting struggling to get to Exceeding and Exceeding less likely to retain rating


Proportion of Exceeding services retaining their rating post re-assessment has fallen by 2 per cent since March 2023 and 3 per cent since the beginning of 2023 in the first such meaningful downward move since the introduction of stricter new guidance for determining Exceeding NQS issued in 2018. 


NQF snapshot - assessment and rating exceeding changes


It is unclear what has driven the trend with no significant changes to assessors guidance of note since 2018 although ongoing challenges around securing qualified teachers and educators may be being felt at the margin when it comes to quality assessment.


Looking ahead this trend is unlikely to reverse as new affordability measures recently passed spurring demand for early learning services against a backdrop of persistent educator shortages. 


Read the NQF snapshot here.

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