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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The National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Collection has been established to provide nationally comparable statistics on early childhood education and care (ECEC). The collection also enables improvements in the quality and accessibility of national ECEC data and assists in the progress reporting for the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NP ECE). Chapter 8: Collection Background and Governance, provides further context to the collection and background information, including information on governance and the NP ECE.

The collection is underpinned by standards specified within the Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS). Further information on the ECEC NMDS is available on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website: http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/466519.

Data standards and collection instructions for the National ECEC Collection are also outlined in detail within the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide, 2012 (cat. no 4240.0.55.002).

Data collected through the National ECEC Collection are published annually, with the third iteration being Preschool Education, Australia, 2012 (cat. no 4240.0).

Previous editions of this publication were labelled as Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 and 2011 (cat. no 4240.0), due to data quality and coverage issues in the first two years of the collection.

The ABS acknowledges while there are still data quality issues there has been significant improvements to the collection of data since its inception which no longer warrant the label of ‘Experimental Estimates’. These improvements include:

  • increased alignment with the standards specified in the ECEC NMDS.

Whilst there are still some jurisdictions not able to meet all of the standards set out in the ECEC NMDS, there has been substantial improvement by data providers to meet these standards.

There has also been significant improvement in the quality of the linkage variable, which has significantly allowed for the improvement of identification of both child counts, and the year before full-time schooling year before full-time schooling counts.


The National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods publication details information for data users relating to the 2012 National ECEC Collection. It includes an overview of the collection and discussions on collection scope and coverage, key concepts and definitions, data quality, the availability of data, and background and governance information.

The Data Collection Guide is published in conjunction with the Concepts, Sources and Methods publication. The Data Collection Guide provides detailed guidelines, instructions and definitions to assist in the collection and reporting of ECEC data collected using both URL and aggregate level data collection methodologies. The Data Collection Guide is primarily for the states and territories, and Commonwealth data providers to assist with the collection of nationally comparable ECEC data and is released for general information. The guide is intended to be used in conjunction with the 2012 ABS National ECEC data request and the 2012 ECEC NMDS. The guidelines contained within the Data Collection Guide will facilitate the delivery of nationally comparable ECEC statistics.


The Concepts, Sources and Methods publication has been developed by the National Centre for Education and Training Statistics within the ABS. Further collection improvements are planned, and changes in data collection capabilities and methodologies across jurisdictions will necessitate updates to this publication on an annual basis.

For further assistance or information, please contact the ABS by emailing <education.statistics@abs.gov.au>.