The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has released an extensive report on the sector’s performance against the NQF, revealing steady improvement across most aspects of operations.
The Report has revealed that the sector is the largest it has ever been, with 1.3 million children accessing an NQF service as part of 900,000 families.
Since the commencement of the NQF, the sector has seen a steady increase in improvement of quality ratings, with 73% of rated services now Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standard.
The report has shown quality rating issues with the Family Day Care sector, with the percentage of services meeting Quality Area 2 (children’s health and safety) dropping from 77% to 55%.
Perhaps the biggest question to arise from the report concerns family and community understanding of the National Quality Framework, and quality approaches to early childhood education and care. In a survey of families, location and accessibility was rated as the most important factor in choosing a service, above the quality of the learning program and the skill levels of the educators.
Concerningly for ACECQA, and for services looking to capitilise on a positive rating for marketing, the service’s quality rating was rated the least important aspect of choosing a service.
The Report highlights that the NQF still enjoys very high levels of support from the sector, and that educator qualifications and the meeting of ratio requirements have increased steadily since 2012.
ACECQA Chair Judy Hebblethwaite described the Report as encouraging, and said that it suggests “the NQF is realising a number of its intended benefits, including continuous improvement in service provision”.
The full Report can be viewed at the ACECQA website.