4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2013   
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Contents >> Collection Overview >> Collection Methods


The National ECEC Collection aims to report accurately on the number of children who have received a preschool program within the collection reference period. To achieve this, an important goal of the collection is to count each child once in the total number of children within each state and territory who are enrolled in and attending preschool programs. Given the complexity of the service delivery models for ECEC across Australia, it is a statistical challenge to ensure that children attending multiple preschool programs are only counted once in these total counts.

Jurisdictions collect and report data for the National ECEC Collection using either a Unit Record Level (URL) collection methodology or combination of aggregate and URL collection methodologies.

Unit Record Level Data Collection

A URL data collection methodology supports the collection of information at the individual child, worker and teacher level, and at the service provider organisation level. For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, a URL data collection methodology collects child level data, and corresponding service provider data for each child in the data set. This collection methodology also includes worker level data corresponding to service provider data for each worker in the data set. In 2012, all jurisdictions were able to collect worker data using a URL data collection methodology.

A URL collection with appropriate methodologies and protocols is the most appropriate method for ensuring a child who is enrolled in multiple preschool programs is only counted once in child level estimates. Aggregate data collection methodologies are limited in their capacity to identify children attending multiple preschool programs. Consequently all data from jurisdictions with a collection process that produced aggregate data for the 2012 National ECEC Collection could only be presented in terms of episodes of preschool program provision.

Aggregate Level Data Collection

An aggregate data collection methodology supports the collection of information on child and teacher data at the service provider level. For this collection, aggregate data can only be presented in terms of episodes of preschool program delivered. An episode is the count of the occurrence for a specific characteristic. For the National ECEC Collection, an episode refers to a preschool program provided to a child. When one child attends two different preschool programs, the child is attending two episodes of preschool.

An aggregate level data collection methodology contains data from statistical entities within the collection population that are grouped together and aggregated into broader categories. For the National ECEC Collection, an aggregate data collection methodology collects totals of children enrolled in and attending preschools programs at the service provider level only. Unlike URL collection methodologies, data collected at this level does not contain detailed child level information. Therefore, it is not operationally possible to identify children enrolled and attending multiple services. All preschool data collected at the service provider level is therefore reported as an episode.

For further information on these concepts, including definitions for child, worker and service provider record level data, see Chapter 3: Concepts and Definitions.

The following table shows the collection methodologies adapted by each jurisdiction in 2012. Further information on each jurisdiction’s collection capabilities are outlined in Chapter 6: Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements.


JurisdictionCollection Method

Australian GovernmentUnit Record Level

New South WalesUnit Record Level

VictoriaUnit Record Level

QueenslandUnit Record Level / Aggregate(a)

South AustraliaUnit Record Level

Western AustraliaUnit Record Level(b)

TasmaniaUnit Record Level

Northern TerritoryUnit Record Level

Australian Capital TerritoryUnit Record Level

(a) Qld. collected data from a number of unfunded preschools using an aggregate data collection methodology.
(b) WA provided some aggregate data as pseudo URL data for community preschools.

Jurisdictions that provided a combination of URL and aggregate data are working towards the collection of complete URL data for future cycles of the National ECEC Collection.

Those jurisdictions that were able to provide complete URL level ECEC data for 2012 are also working towards enhancing the information that they collect and/or provide to the ABS for the National ECEC Collection, where relevant, to improve child level estimates.

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