The proportion of services Working Towards NQS has seen a consistent decrease since the ratings were initiated in 2013. Overall, 43% of services were lacking in one or more quality areas identified by the National Quality Framework in 2013, now down to 18% in Q4-20, a decline of almost 60%. Compared to the previous year, Q4-2019, a further 10% of services have improved quality enforcement.
Out of these, almost a quarter of all services (568 in number) need to work on 2 quality areas, while under 10% (305 services) are falling short in 6 or 7 quality areas. The largest gaps were in QA1 (Education program and practice) which continue to be the most impacted areas since the very start. In Q4-20, 13% services were still working to achieve relevant national standards.
Under this quality area, services are assessed for all child-centered efforts that educators are putting in to maximise learning outcomes and child experiences. This is followed by QA2 (Children’s Health and Safety) and QA7 (Governance and Leadership) with 12% services still rated Working Towards NQS in both areas.
Services outperform NQS standards in family collaborations
98% of child care centres are Meeting and Exceeding the NQS in element 6.1 (Support relationships with families) and 6.2 (Collaborative partnerships). On the other hand, barely 1% of all services were unable to meet criteria under this category. This particular quality area focuses on the importance of consulting and collaborating with families to help achieve quality child outcomes.
34% LDC, 15% OSHC and 66% PSK are also exceeding standards in QA6. The positive trend has been followed consistently since last year when 95% of services were Meeting and Exceeding NQS in QA6 in Q4-2019.
More focus needed on child learning programs by services
Element level results in NQS assessment reveal that components related to assessment and planning cycles (Element 1.3.1) may need improvement. Over 11% of centres have been unable to meet NQS standards in this area, followed by critical reflection (Element 1.3.2). 6.4% of all types of services also fell short in providing program learning opportunities for children. These elements correspond directly with child learning and development, and its impact on program planning.
At centre level, 10% of LDC and 13.5% of OSHC failed to meet these quality areas, while under 3% PSK failed. For FDC, this percentage amounted to just over a third of services that could not provide satisfactory learning programs.
Along with this, following an approved learning framework and facilitating child learning through intentional and responsive teaching is part of the prerequisites. Teachers must assess and plan learning activities based on observation and analysis of each child’s progress.
5.5% of centres were also unable to ensure that each child is protected with an effective plan to manage incidents and emergencies, as stated under QA 2. Being informed about centre SOPs for emergencies is also a key priority that parents may consider before choosing to enrol their child.