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4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/03/2012   
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NEW SOUTH WALES


DATA QUALITY STATEMENT

In 2011, New South Wales (NSW) was responsible for two data collections in relation to preschool programs, both of which collected data using a Unit Record Level (URL) data collection methodology:

  • NSW Department of Education and Communities (NSW DEC): ‘Government School Census’
  • NSW Department of Family and Community Services (NSW FACS): ‘Children's Services Annual Data Collection’, conducted on behalf of NSW DEC.

a] Government School Census

Institutional Environment
The organisation responsible for the Government School Census was NSW DEC. Data for the Government School Census were collected under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) and the Children's Services Regulation 2004 (NSW).

Relevance
The data collected by NSW DEC enabled reporting across the NSW government schools sector for a variety of reporting requirements, as well as to measure progress against Australian Government ECEC targets and COAG reforms.

Scope: The scope of the early childhood component of the Government School Census included all children aged 3 to 6 years old who were attending a preschool program at a government school in NSW.

The scope for data provided on workers included all paid primary contact teachers delivering preschool programs at government schools in NSW.

Coverage: All government schools in NSW participated in the Government School Census. For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, data were sourced for all government schools offering a preschool program, and therefore full coverage was achieved for the NSW government sector.

Data collection methods:
The 2011 Government Schools Census collected data using a URL data collection methodology for the following statistical entities:
  • Child: Data at the child record level
  • Service provider organisation: Data at the service provider record level
  • Worker: Data at the worker record level.

Timeliness
The Government School Census is an annual collection and in 2011 was undertaken on 5 August 2011, with a reference period of 1 August to 5 August 2011. Completion of the data processing and validation stage took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to the ABS.

Data sourced from the Government School Census for the purposes of the National ECEC Collection are published by the ABS in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 4240.0).

Accuracy
All NSW DEC government school-based preschools were required to participate in the Government School Census by completing an on-line collection form. There were three sections to the preschool section of the collection:
  • general preschool data (e.g. number of children enrolled, number of Indigenous children)
  • class or group data (overall session details for service and individual attendance by child, along with date of birth, sex, Indigenous status, language background other than English and disability)
  • teacher data (e.g. qualifications and length of employment).

During the collection period, NSW DEC extracted children’s details from the Enrolment Registration Number (ERN) system. Preschool teachers checked enrolment data, allocated children to class groups and entered enrolment details for any children missing from the ERN. Teachers also entered additional information to meet the collection requirements, then submitted forms electronically into the secure NSW DEC Collections portal.

NSW DEC ensured that all preschools submitted compulsory data. The online form used by preschools contained a number of validation rules to prevent inconsistencies and omissions. During the data collection period, preschool teachers could phone NSW DEC to clarify counting rules and data collection procedures. Signoff was required from all Principals whose school provided a preschool program. In addition data anomaly reports were generated identifying problems such as incorrect age, low attendance or duplicate children. All anomalies were checked and data corrected if required.

Coherence
For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, data collected through the 2011 Government School Census were able to be compared with data collected in 2010, as both collections were undertaken using a URL data collection methodology. Coherence was achieved between the 2010 and 2011 NSW DEC Government School Census.

An analysis of the coherence of this collection with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking into account any data elements that are not consistent with the ECEC National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) specifications.
5.2.1 DEVIATION OF COLLECTION FROM THE 2011 ECEC NMDS


Data Element Details of Deviation

Address line (Child)(a)
Area of usual residence (Child)
Full child address information was not provided due to the quality of data in the source system, only the suburb/town/locality name. This impacted on the ability to determine child disadvantage status and remoteness classifications, which affected comparability across jurisdictions.

Worker dataOnly information on primary contact teachers in government preschools was collected.

Level of highest qualification relevant to ECEC (Worker) The collection of this data element did not allow differentiation between Code 4: Bachelor degree pass (4 years or equivalent) or Code 3: Bachelor degree (honours). These qualifications were all coded as Code 4.
The collection of this data element did not allow differentiation between Code 6: Advanced Diploma and Code 7: Diploma. These qualifications were all coded as Code 7.

(a) This was not included in the 2011 ECEC NMDS, however it was requested by the ABS as an additional data element.

Counts of Children:
In the collection reference period, it is possible for a child to be concurrently enrolled in and attending two or more preschool programs. In order to address collection requirements, it is important to be able to collate all matching child records.

Children in a Preschool Program in 2011:
For NSW, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in 2011 were able to be derived as data were collected using a URL data collection methodology.

Children in a Preschool Program in the Year before Full-time Schooling:
NSW did not have two years of comparable data collected using a URL methodology or have a child/client database, and therefore counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in the year before full-time schooling were not able to be derived.

Interpretability
NSW DEC preschools were notified about the data collection through the regular Principals’ newsletter and reminder faxes. Detailed instructions on collecting and entering data using the secure NSW DEC Collections portal were available to preschools at all times during the collection period.

Accessibility
Data sourced from the Government School Census for the 2011 National ECEC Collection are published at the state and territory level in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2011 on the ABS website.


b] Children's Services Annual Data Collection

Institutional Environment
The organisation responsible for the Children's Services Annual Data Collection was NSW FACS on behalf of NSW DEC. In 2011, the Children's Services Annual Data Collection was passed on to NSW DEC and submitted together with NSW DEC data to the ABS. Data for the Children's Services Annual Data Collection were collected under the Service Specifications, which are contracts with each service provider outlining the terms of renewable funding under the Children’s Services Program.

Relevance
The data collected by NSW FACS were used for state government reporting commitments and to assist with the evaluation and planning of service provision. For preschools, the information obtained was used to determine funding for the following year as well as subsidy amounts for the Early Childhood Teacher Costs Contribution Scheme. Data were also used for monitoring the Children's Services Program funded services and reporting to the Australian Government on achievements against targets.

Scope: The scope for the Children's Services Annual Data Collection included all children aged 0 to 6 years old attending a preschool program that was regulated and funded by NSW DEC. Only those children that did not receive or were not eligible for the Child Care Benefit (CCB) or the Child Care Rebate (CCR) were considered in-scope.

The scope for data provided on workers included all paid workers employed in service providers that were regulated and funded by NSW DEC.

Coverage: NSW government funded preschools were mandated to participate in the Children's Services Annual Data Collection.

A substantial proportion of preschool programs in NSW are delivered by commercial LDCs and these services do not receive funding from NSW DEC. As a result, no data were collected from these services by the NSW Government.

Service providers that were registered for the CCB and the CCR were required to provide information in the Children's Services Annual Data Collection only for children who did not receive the CCB or the CCR. Preschool programs which were not funded by the NSW government and were delivered in non-government schools were also not included in the scope of the collection, and therefore there was under coverage in that sector.

Data collection methods:
The 2011 Children’s Services Annual Data Collection collected data using a URL data collection methodology for the following statistical entities:
  • Child: Data at the child record level
  • Service provider organisation: Data at the service provider record level
  • Worker: Data at the worker record level.

Timeliness
The Children's Services Annual Data Collection is an annual collection and in 2011 was undertaken on 5th August 2011, with a collection period of 1 August to 12 August 2011. This reference fortnight was adopted by NSW DEC to reflect the preschool delivery model in NSW. This reference fortnight was then derived by NSW FACS to a one week reference period to enable comparison with other jurisdictions for the National ECEC Collection. Completion of the data processing and validation stage took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to NSW DEC for on-forwarding to the ABS.

Data sourced from the Children's Services Annual Data Collection for the purposes of the National ECEC Collection are published by the ABS in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2011.

Accuracy
In 2011 service providers used the online data entry system that was introduced in 2010, to complete the Children's Services Annual Data Collection. The on-line collection tool allowed preschool service providers to:
  • Enter data for each child and staff member, and to automatically calculate totals
  • Enter individual child and staff member details progressively throughout the representative fortnight
  • Generate a copy of the data that had been entered for their own records.

Service providers entered data from child enrolment forms into their service provider data repository. During the collection period, data from this repository were used by the service provider to populate child enrolment information and enter other additional data into the on-line database to meet the collection requirements. After this was completed, data entry restrictions were used to ensure the required information was entered before the data could be submitted. The data were then sent to an off-line database (NSW FACS data repository) for storage. The user then received an automatic report via e-mail confirming that data had been submitted successfully and received by NSW FACS.

NSW FACS ensured that all services submitted compulsory data. The online form used by service providers contained a number of validation rules to prevent inconsistencies and omissions. During the data collection period, service providers could phone a 1300 phone number to clarify counting rules and data collection procedures. In addition, all submitted data were cross-checked for consistency with operational characteristics such as approved number of places and opening hours at each service. Prior year data were also compared and, where large variations were apparent, service providers were contacted to confirm data accuracy. Regional staff also undertook random audits of service providers after the collection period.

Coherence
For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, data collected through the 2011 Children's Services Annual Data Collection were comparable to data collected in 2010, as both collections were undertaken using similar URL data collection methodologies.

Specific data elements which were collected using methods which did not align with the ECEC NMDS specifications are outlined below and should be taken into account when comparing data collected from each dataset.
An analysis of the coherence of this collection with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking into account any data elements that are not consistent with the ECEC NMDS specifications.

5.2.2 DEVIATION OF COLLECTION FROM THE 2011 ECEC NMDS


Data ElementDetails of Deviation

Child name (Child)Child family name and given name information was not retained on the data set after the SLK was produced. As name information was not retained, the SLK could not be validated which reduced the quality of the SLK and prevented matching of child records.

Address line (Child)(a)
Area of usual residence (Child)
Full child address information was not collected, only the suburb/town/locality name. This impacted on the ability to determine child disadvantage status and remoteness classifications, which affected comparability across jurisdictions.

Indigenous status (Child) The Indigenous status of the child was not disaggregated below the level of Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Management type (Service provider)All service providers were coded to Private not for profit – Community managed. There was no ability to separately identify preschool programs managed by Local government or attached to independent/Catholic schools.

Preschool program delivery indicator (Worker) This data element was not collected.

Hours worked in preschool program delivery (Worker)This data element was not collected in accordance with the ECEC NMDS. Data collected related to the worker’s typical paid hours per week, not the actual hours worked in the reference period.

(a) This was not included in the 2011 ECEC NMDS, however it was requested by the ABS as an additional data element.

Counts of Children:
In the collection reference period, it is possible for a child to be concurrently enrolled in and attending two or more preschool programs. In order to address collection requirements, it is important to be able to collate all matching child records.

Children in a Preschool Program in 2011:
For NSW, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in 2011 were able to be derived as data were collected using a URL data collection methodology.

Children in a Preschool Program in the Year before Full-time Schooling:
NSW did not have two years of comparable data collected using a URL methodology or have a child/client database, and therefore counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in the year before full-time schooling were not able to be derived.

Interpretability
NSW provided a range of key information via manuals and fact sheets, such as the 2011 Census Booklet and Coding Instructions, to assist in the reporting of data, correct interpretation and explanation of concepts. The Children's Services data collection tool - user guide, can be found at: http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/childcare_reporting_guide.pdf.

Accessibility
Data sourced from the Children's Services Annual Data Collection for the 2011 National ECEC Collection are published at the state and territory level in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2011 on the ABS website.

Information Source
The information contained within this report has been sourced from NSW FACS and NSW DEC in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the NSW FACS website http://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/ and NSW DEC website http://www.educationandcommunities.nsw.gov.au/.

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