84% of services in Australia are ‘Meeting NQS or above’, with 30% Exceeding the ratings standards. This was up 2.2% since the previous quarter, with 311 more services Meeting the NQS, and 44 additional services Exceeding in Q4-20. The proportion of services meeting standards has gone up by 50% since the start of the quality ratings in 2013.
83% LDC and 79% OSHC are Meeting NQS and above, with close to two-thirds of all Preschool/Kindergartens Exceeding NQS. Ratings for LDC improved 4% and OSHC by 7% , year-on-year. In addition, 25% fewer services required significant improvement since Q3-20, and 65% of these were rated Working Towards NQS at reassessment within the same period.
96% of services are meeting Quality Area (QA) 5 and 6 pertaining to relationship with children, and collaborative partnerships with families. These are also the quality areas where the most amount of services are Exceeding NQS. This trend is followed closely by QA3 and QA4, with 93% services providing a safe environment for children, along with qualified educators.
Almost 12000 quality rating assessments were carried out under the NQF. Nationally, there are 7,589 LDC services, followed by 4,158 Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services.
Quality areas identified for improvement
Overall, 47% of services Working Towards NQS have to work on 3-5 quality areas, while 12% need improvement in all 6-7 quality areas, the same trend as 2019. 16% of LDCs are Working Towards NQS to improve one or more quality areas. However, this is down 10% from Q3-20 and 20% from the Q4-19, with more services meeting NQS in all 7 quality areas in Q4-20.
Fewer services were able to meet the NQS in QA1, QA2 and QA7, in comparison to other quality areas. Broadly, these are linked to educational programs and child development, child health and safety, and governance and leadership respectively. On closer look, centres need to work on assessment and planning cycles, management systems, and health practices and procedures. The least worrisome areas for centres fall under collaborative learning, service engagement and family support, among others.
The largest number of services requiring significant improvement were found to be for QA2 and QA7. The trend has been roughly the same since last year. For services with exceptional education and care services, QA2 (child health and safety) was also the least popular quality area, with 17% centres Exceeding, as opposed to 35% centres Exceeding QA6 (collaborative partnerships). The trend has been roughly the same since last year in Q4-2019.
Trends in state-wise NQS indicators
NSW and NT have 81% services Meeting NQS and beyond, up from 78% in Q3-20. QLD is at 87%, VIC at 86% and SA at 85% of services excelling quality standards. Roughly two-thirds of services in NSW, QLD, VIC and NT are Exceeding NQS in QA6 (collaborative partnerships with families).
As of Q4-20, 93% of services have received a quality rating, amounting to 16,257 in total. 88 new services have been added since Q3. Out of these, 97% of all nationally approved services are centre-based care, while 3% are family day care services. With the largest number of services at 5,616, NSW has 35% of nationally approved services in all of Australia, followed by Victoria with 26% approved services.