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The WA August School Census is an annual collection conducted in August. In 2013 the collection was undertaken on 2 August with a reference period of 22 July to 2 August 2013 inclusive. This reference fortnight occurred in the first two weeks of Semester 2 and was derived to a weekly equivalent to enable data comparison with other jurisdictions for the Collection. Data processing and validation took approximately three months to complete after the collection date, at which time data were delivered to the ABS.
Data sourced from the WA August School Census for the purposes of the Collection are published by the ABS in Preschool Education, Australia, 2013 (cat. no 4240.0).
Child level data: Government preschool data were obtained from government schools through an administrative system, the INTEGRIS Student Information Database (SID) and a daily data harvesting process. The SID is the primary source of URL data for public schools. The SID data were uploaded into the WA DoE online Student Census System where the data were checked, verified and endorsed as accurate by each school principal.
For non-government schools, child URL data is extracted from school enrolment records at the census date. Non-government schools were able to upload URL data using a comma-separated values file to the WA DoE’s online Student Census System, which incorporated a number of internal consistency checks. Alternatively, some non-government schools provided aggregate data to the WA DoE. The ages for a very small proportion of children in non-government managed preschools were imputed from aggregate data and supplied by WA DoE as pseudo URL child level data.
Following the validation checks detailed below, government and non-government data collected through the School Census were then stored in the Student Census System data warehouse, and extracted for the purposes of the Collection.
Internal validation processes for the School Census occurred at three different points of the process. The WA DoE online Student Census System had a series of in-built validation rules, some of which required the school to edit data before continuing, while other rules generated warnings alerting the user to anomalies. These warnings allowed the principal to decide whether data needed amending before the census return was submitted. This first level of validation only applied to WA Government schools and preschools.
For non-government preschools, a validation checklist was utilised to ensure that:
At the time of provision, all government and non-government school principals were required to verify and endorse the accuracy of their census data submission.
A second set of validation processes were run by the WA August School Census team, using both routine and ad-hoc validation methods to examine data while it was assembled into working files. These processes were designed to enable effective investigation of any new issues.
The third set of validation rules were built into the custom software which loaded the census data into the Student Census System data warehouse, or into the staging phase.
Worker level data: All educators (teachers and education assistants and Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers) who work with kindergarten children for more than one hour per week were required to provide details on their field and level of highest qualification relevant to ECEC. If an educator had no qualifications, they were required to indicate whether they were currently working towards an ECEC qualification and also the number of years of experience they had in teaching preschool (the first year of school, known as ‘kindergarten in WA, and offered part-time) or Pre-primary (the first year of full-time school in WA). To be registered as a teacher in WA, teachers are required to produce evidence that they are four year trained or equivalent. Equivalency is determined by the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia.
For the purposes of the Collection, data collected from government school-based preschools using a URL data collection methodology were comparable with data collected in 2012.
In 2013, WA trialled a series of questions in the Kindergarten Provision Census component of the WA August School Census to assess whether more detailed information could be collected about preschool hours offered and attended. The results of these questions will be analysed and will inform whether WA uses this approach for these data in future years ECEC collections.
Specific data elements collected using methods which did not align with the ECEC National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) specifications are outlined below and should be taken into account when analysing the data collected.
In WA separate attendance and enrolment data is not available. Attendance data has been used to derive enrolment data so care should be taken when interpreting enrolment data as a slight undercount may exist.
As per previous years, maximum preschool program hours available was based on the number of preschool hours enrolled by preschool students. Due to WA policy on enrolment and attendance there may be an under-count of children enrolled in preschool. This is because in WA, a child attending for less than 90 per cent of enrolled hours is not considered enrolled. This reflects the NMDS requirement that to be considered as enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, or be absent due to illness or extended holiday leave and expected to return.
Preschool program hours attended per week (child) was not reported for WA preschools because it could not be collected in a manner consistent with the ECEC NMDS specifications.
An analysis of the coherence of the WA 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. Deviations between the 2013 ECEC NMDS and data collected from the WA August School Census, are outlined in Table 6.5.
6.5 DEVIATION OF COLLECTION FROM THE 2013 ECEC NMDS
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. The most prevalent circumstances of concurrent enrolment would be children who attended a school for their 15 hour kindergarten program, and also attended a long day care centre for before or after school hours care. In order to address collection requirements, it is important to be able to collate all matching child records.
Children in a Preschool Program in 2013 and in the Year Before Full-time Schooling:
For government schools, the collection instrument itself contained significant guidance and computation rules to prevent inconsistent responses in relation to prior data entries. For non-government schools, a checklist was provided which included instructions and suggestions for validations. WA DoE staff who prepared the School Census were trained to provide phone and email support through the WA DoE Customer Service Centre system.
Data sourced from the School Census for the 2013 Collection are published at the state and territory level in Preschool Education, Australia, 2013 (cat. no. 4240.0) which is available on the ABS website.
The information contained within this report has been sourced from WA DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available on the WA DoE website <http://www.education.wa.edu.au>.