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4240.0 - Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/04/2011  First Issue
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CHAPTER 1 - BACKGROUND INFORMATION


INTRODUCTION

The estimates presented in this publication are based on data collected from the National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Collection. This collection commenced in 2010, with administrative data provided by each state and territory agency responsible for early childhood education (ECE). Because of significant undercoverage and inconsistent reference periods in this initial iteration of this new collection, the estimates in this publication are labelled 'experimental'. See the section titled 'COVERAGE' below for more details on undercoverage.


EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE

Responsibility for ECE is shared between the Australian Government and the state or territory governments, and is administered through a wide range of service providers including government, local government, community, schools (both government and non-government) and private organisations. There is a wide range of early childhood education and care data already collected by government and non-government agencies, required for funding purposes. For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, the phrase 'Early Childhood Education and Care' incorporates all ECE programs referred to within this publication as 'preschool'.


PRESCHOOL PROGRAM

A preschool program is a structured, play-based learning program, usually provided by a qualified teacher on a sessional basis, primarily aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Depending on jurisdictional delivery models, preschool programs may be delivered through government or non-government schools, government or community preschools and for-profit child care providers. Early childhood education terminology differs across states and territories and across years. More detailed descriptions of preschool programs are presented in the Explanatory Notes section of this publication.

For the purpose of the National ECEC Collection, a qualified teacher is defined as a staff member who is employed by the ECEC service that is four-year university qualified in early childhood, and who mainly has direct contact with children in the delivery of a preschool program.


SCOPE

The collection scope of the National ECEC Collection consists of all establishments delivering an ECE program. The National ECEC Collection excludes child care programs that do not operate a preschool program. Programs aimed at children in the year before grade 1 are also considered out of scope for the National ECEC Collection.


LEVELS OF REPORTING

The National ECEC Collection aims to compile child, teacher and service provider statistics from all preschool programs that are in scope.


Child level data

All children actively enrolled in a preschool program, at an in-scope service provider, are within scope. To be considered as enrolled, the child must be between the age of 3 to 6 years inclusive, been offered a place at the preschool and be actively attending. Children who are absent in the reference period due to illness or holiday leave are considered to be enrolled if they are expected to return.


Teacher level data

Teachers in scope of the collection are those who are engaged in the provision of a preschool program, at in scope early childhood education establishments, at least once within the reference period. In addition, teachers are only considered in scope if they are employed by the preschool. Voluntary preschool teachers are not in scope. Teacher level data are not published as part of the 2010 National ECEC Collection, however this data is expected to be included in future releases. In 2010, teacher data was collected as part of the National ECEC Workforce Census, which was an initiative of the Australian Government, as represented by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, in partnership with state and territory governments.


Service provider level data

A service provider is considered in scope if there is an in scope preschool program being delivered by the service provider.

For more information on the data elements collected please refer to the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection Manual (cat.no. 4240.0.55.001).


COVERAGE

All state and territory governments in Australia, as well as the Commonwealth government, currently collect statistics on preschool programs. The current collection governance responsibilities for the National ECEC Collection within each jurisdiction are outlined below:

  • New South Wales - NSW Department of Education and Training, and Community Services, Department of Human Services NSW 
  • Victoria - Vic. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Queensland - QLD Department of Education and Training
  • South Australia - SA Department of Education and Children's Services
  • Western Australia - WA Department of Education
  • Tasmania - Tas. Department of Education
  • Northern Territory - NT Department of Education and Training
  • Australian Capital Territory - ACT Department of Education and Training
  • Commonwealth - Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Enhancements to the Commonwealth's Child Care Management System (CCMS) are currently underway to enable supply of statistics for preschool programs in Long Day Care (LDC) centres. As a result, a number of in scope providers (and subsequently children) are not covered in the 2010 collection. This coverage issue affects each jurisdiction differently, due to the nature of preschool delivery and jurisdictional specific collection methodologies. The following section describes the 2010 National ECEC Collection coverage for each state and territory.


New South Wales

New South Wales (NSW) achieved full collection coverage of all government preschools through the annual School Census conducted by the Department of Education and Training.

Community Services, Department of Human Services NSW (Community Services) collected statistics from the preschools which are licensed and subsidised by the department. Only children who did not receive or were not eligible for the Child Care Benefit or the Child Care Rebate were included in this collection. These preschools account for almost half of all in scope non-government preschools in NSW.

Over a third of non-government preschools were not covered in the 2010 collection because they are not funded by NSW Community Services. The majority of these providers will be included in future collections, with the inclusion of CCMS data.

There were a small proportion of non-government preschools not covered in the 2010 collection because they were not licensed by NSW Community Services. The majority of these providers are school-based preschools, associated with non-government schools. The appropriate mechanism to include these preschools in the collection is still under investigation.


Victoria

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development collected preschool data from all government funded providers though the 2010 Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection. The collected data covered the vast majority of preschools in Victoria, irrespective of their management type and delivery setting.

There may be a small number of preschools, as defined by this collection, not funded by the state government who were not included in the 2010 Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection. The majority of these providers will be included in future collections, with the inclusion of CCMS data.


Queensland

All licensed preschools and LDCs received the 2010 Early Childhood Education and Care Services Census (ECECSC) from the Department of Education and Training. Although participation was voluntary, the Queensland collection received responses from almost all of the state government funded providers. Only a limited number of unfunded programs in LDCs responded to the collection. With the inclusion of CCMS data in future collections, the majority of these providers will be included.

Full coverage was achieved through the ECECSC of all Queensland government state and private schools providing preschool under specific programs (such as the Bound for Success Pre-Prep program), which operate in Indigenous communities.


South Australia

South Australia achieved full collection coverage for all Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) managed preschools, including funded non-government preschools through the Annual Census of Children's Services (ACCS). Full coverage was not achieved for community managed LDCs as participation in the ACCS was not compulsory for these services. With the inclusion of CCMS data in future collections, the majority of these providers will be included.

Several of the non-government school-based preschools that were licensed child care centres completed the ACCS. Other non-government preschools either did not return the ACCS form or did not receive the form because they are not licensed by DECS.


Western Australia

Western Australia’s collection covered all government preschools managed or regulated by the Department of Education and all non-government school-based preschools regulated by the Department of Education Services.

Preschool programs delivered by a qualified teacher in a LDC setting (unless the LDC was registered as a school) were not recognised by the state government, therefore were outside the Western Australian preschool collection scope. Plans are underway to include these preschool programs in future National ECEC Collections by using CCMS data.


Tasmania

Tasmania's collection covered all preschools managed or regulated by Department of Education, which included all government preschools and non-government school-based preschools.

Preschool programs delivered by a qualified teacher in a LDC setting (unless the LDC was registered as a school) were not recognised by the state government, and hence were outside the Tasmanian preschool collection scope. Plans are underway to include these preschool programs in future National ECEC Collections, by using CCMS data.


Northern Territory

Northern Territory achieved full coverage of government preschools managed by Department of Education and Training (DET) through the Age/Grade Census.

Non-government preschools that were registered by DET were covered through the Age/Grade Census, however non-government data are less detailed. Non-government preschools that are not registered by DET are not covered by the Age/Grade Census.

There are a number of LDCs within the NT that offer preschool programs, however there are currently no data available for preschool services offered in these centres as they are not registered as preschools and do not receive any funding from DET. The coverage gap in regards to preschools within LDCs will reduce when CCMS data become available.


Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) achieved full coverage of government preschools managed by Department of Education and Training (DET) through the annual August School Census.

The 2010 collection did not cover the ACT non-government preschool sector. For those registered preschools that only participated in the annual April School Census, data during the ECEC August collection week are not available. Planning is underway to include ACT non-government providers in future collections.

Preschool programs in a LDC setting were not recognised or funded by DET. Plans are underway to include these preschool programs in future National ECEC Collections, by using CCMS data.


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