Latest release

Preschool Education, Australia methodology

Reference period
2020
Released
23/04/2021
Next release Unknown

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication contains statistics on children enrolled in and attending preschool programs across Australia in 2020. The statistics were compiled from data collected through the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (the collection). The collection includes data about service providers and children. 

The Australian Government and the state and territory governments share responsibility for early childhood education (ECE). ECE programs are administered through a range of government and non-government service providers. In 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a partnership between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments to encourage reform in education, skills and early childhood development.

Since late 2008 the provision of ECE has been supported through National Partnership Agreements. From 2013 these National Partnership Agreements extended coverage to support Universal Access to Early Childhood Education in the year before full-time school.

The collection was established in 2010 to improve the quality of ECE data required for reporting under National Partnership Agreements. Data from the collection also supports national ECE reporting through the Report on Government Services and the National Indigenous Reform Agreement.

Preschool program

For the purposes of the collection, a preschool program is defined as a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed primarily at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. A preschool program can be delivered in a variety of settings such as stand-alone preschools, preschools co-located as part of a school (both government and non-government), and centre based day care (CBDC) services (formerly known as long day care). A child may attend both a preschool and a separate or adjoined child care facility, such as family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in-home care and occasional care services. Participation in preschool is not compulsory and is influenced by parental preference and other factors, such as school starting age in the particular jurisdiction.

Preschool programs are referred to by a variety of other terms across state and territories. Preschool age entry requirements also differ across states and territories. These differences are summarised in the following table:

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Program Terminology and Age Entry Requirements by State and Territory
JurisdictionPreschool programTransition to primary school Foundation year (Year prior to year 1)
 ProgramAge of entrySchool yearAge of entry
New South Wales (a)PreschoolGenerally 4 and 5 year oldsKindergarten5 by 31 July
Victoria (b)Kindergarten4 by 30 AprilPreparatory (Prep)5 by 30 April
QueenslandKindergarten4 by 30 JunePreparatory (Prep)5 by 30 June
Western AustraliaKindergarten4 by 30 JunePre Primary5 by 30 June
South Australia (c)Preschool4 by 1 MayReception5 by 1 May
TasmaniaKindergarten4 by 1 JanuaryPreparatory5 by 1 January
Australian Capital TerritoryPreschool4 by 30 AprilKindergarten5 by 30 April
Northern Territory (d)Preschool4 by 30 JuneTransition5 by 30 June

a. New South Wales subsidises early access to community preschool for 3 year old Aboriginal children and 3 year old children from low-income families. In New South Wales, all licensed children’s services for under 6 year olds (who have not commenced Kindergarten) are required to offer programs that meet children’s educational and developmental needs.
b. In Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children known to child protection are eligible for free kindergarten through Early Start Kindergarten funding if they are aged 3 by 30 April of the year in which they are enrolled.
c. South Australia provides early access to Department funded preschool for children who are Aboriginal or under the Guardianship of the Minister after their 3rd Birthday. The compulsory school starting age in South Australia is 6 years at the oldest.
d. In the Northern Territory, children living in very remote areas can attend preschool from the age of three, provided a parent/guardian accompany the child and remain with them at each session until they reach the age of three years and six months.
Source: Report on Government Services 2020.

Scope and coverage

The scope of the Collection consists of all service providers delivering a preschool program to children aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) enrolled during the reference period.

A service provider is considered to be in-scope if it was providing a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling (a preschool program) during the reference period.

All children who at 1 July in the collection year were aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) and were enrolled in a preschool program during the reference period are in-scope. To be considered enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period (including attended an early childhood education program online or remotely due to COVID-19 impacts), or be absent due to illness or extended holiday leave or due to COVID-19 impacts and expected to return.

To achieve comprehensive coverage, data were sourced from the Australian Government, state and territory education departments and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The data are sourced from administrative collections, supplemented where necessary to improve the coverage of service providers not otherwise captured due to funding, regulation or licensing arrangements. The coverage in each state and territory for the 2020 collection is described in Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional data quality statements.

Data quality and comparability

To ensure national comparability, all jurisdictions were required to follow national data standards. The Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) is a set of national data standards established by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) together with the ABS, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and state and territory departments responsible for ECE. More information on the ECEC NMDS can be found on the AIHW website.

Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional data quality statements details if and where jurisdictions were unable to align their collection methods with the ECEC NMDS. Issues affecting data comparability between the states and territories are included as footnotes and/or explanatory notes within this publication.

Statistics in this release may not be fully comparable with previous releases due to differences in coverage and methodologies. Caution should therefore be used when comparing the data over time. Key methodology changes and impacts on data quality over time include:

From 2018, and previously from 2016, the ABS has improved the approach to data linkage in the NECECC to enhance the accuracy of child counts. That is, improvements were made to the way records were linked (when representing the same child), within data provided by a jurisdiction, or across CBDC data provided by both the Australian Government and jurisdictions. These changes reduced over-counts of children. Ongoing improvements to the data linkage methodology may continue over time.

From 2018, the Australian Government implemented the new Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS), replacing the older Child Care Management System (CCMS). From 2016, the Australian Government expanded the strategy for identifying children in the CCMS. As a result, all children at CBDCs (of the appropriate age) are recorded as attending a preschool program. This has particularly affected the count of children aged 3 years enrolled in a preschool program. Prior to 2016 the Australian Government imputed attendance data in the CCMS data extracted for the NECECC to factor for under reporting by provider.

From 2018 all fees for preschool programs delivered in centre-based day care have been derived using data (fees and enrolled hours) supplied by the Australian Government in the CCSS dataset. This was to ensure that all preschool program fees provided were inclusive of government subsidies and that there was consistency between the numerator (fees) and denominator (enrolled hours) for the hourly fees to be derived.

For more information, please see the Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional data quality statements in this, and past, releases. The National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods publication provides detailed information from the early years of the NECECC, however was no longer updated after the 2013 NECECC.

Centre based day care data

For the 2020 collection, information on preschool programs delivered in CBDC settings was provided by the Australian Government from the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS), supplemented by jurisdictional CBDC data where provided. All services approved for administering Child Care Subsidy (CCS) must provide data.

Collection date and reference period

The collection date is the first Friday in August each year. The census date for the 2020 collection was Friday 7 August 2020, with the 1 week reference period from 3 August to 9 August 2020. Some jurisdictions use a 2 week reference period that includes the census week. This means the permissible reference period spans 26 July to 15 August 2020 inclusive. Collection dates and reference periods for 2020 are summarised in the table below.

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Jurisdiction Collection Dates and Reference Periods
JurisdictionCollection DateReference Period
Australian Government7 August 20203 August - 9 August 2020
New South Wales7 August 20203 August - 14 August 2020(a)
Victoria7 August 202029 July - 3 August 2020
Queensland7 August 20203 August - 9 August 2020
South Australia7 August 20203 August - 14 August 2020(a)
Western Australia7 August 202024 July - 7 August 2020
Tasmania7 August 202027 July - 7 August 2020(a)
Northern Territory7 August 202013 June - 7 August 2020(b)
Australian Capital Territory

7 August 2020

27 July - 7 August 2020(a)(c)

3 August - 14 August 2020(a)(d)

(a) Jurisdiction collected data for a fortnightly reference period to reflect their preschool delivery model.
(b) Reference period for NT did not apply for school holidays between 27 June 2020 – 20 July 2020. In addition, two remote schools operate on different school terms. The reference periods for these schools are 22 June - 31 July and 15 June - 21 August respectively.
(c) Reference period for ACT Catholic preschools.
(d) Reference period for ACT Independent & Government preschools.

Measurement concepts

Jurisdictions collect and report data for the collection using a unit record level (URL) collection methodology. A URL methodology collects information for individual children and service providers. A URL collection is the most appropriate method for ensuring a child who is enrolled in multiple preschool programs is only counted once in child level estimates.

Episodes
For the collection, an episode is a single occurrence of a child enrolled in and/or attending a preschool program. When a child attends two different preschool programs, this is described as a child having two attendance episodes.

Unique child counts
The unique child count ensures that when a child attends two or more different preschool programs, the child is only counted once. In any given collection year, the number of unique children will be expected to be less than their number of preschool episodes.

Year before full-time schooling (YBFS)
The YBFS population takes into account the preschool and school entry provisions of the state in which the child usually resides and the child’s date of birth. As part of deriving this state-specific YBFS population, adjustment factors have been applied to certain cohorts for both New South Wales and Victoria to account for the rates at which children proceed from preschool to school education in those states. The adjustments are based on advice from the state education departments and are:

  • For NSW, children aged between 3 years and 11 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school in the following year at a rate of 56%.
  • For Victoria, children aged between 4 years and 2 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school the following year at a decreasing rate (month of birth: January 74%, February 63%, March 52%, April 41%).
     

Preschool program fees

Fee schedules can differ between programs, organisations and jurisdictions. Fees may be charged daily, weekly, annually, per session or per term. If data is collected at any level other than weekly, the weekly fee is derived from the collected fee and fee schedule. Fees charged are usually based on the number of hours of a preschool program a child is enrolled to receive. Information on fees is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one preschool episode, their fees are calculated by summing the fees for all of their episodes. Data on fees are rounded to the nearest dollar for publication.

Hours

For URL data, information on hours is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one episode at a preschool program their hours are calculated by summing the hours for all of their episodes. Data on hours are rounded to the nearest hour for publication. Hours less than 1 but more than 0 are rounded to 1 hour.

Rounding

Hours and fees data have been rounded prior to being assigned to distinct ranges. Where estimates are rounded discrepancies may occur between components items and their totals.

Estimated resident population (ERP)

The preliminary ERP figures presented in this publication are based on the 2016 Census. The ABS has provided these numbers as indicative only. They are included here to support comparative reporting performed using the 2016 ERP time series. In the collection, children enrolled and attending preschool programs in Jervis Bay are included in statistics for the ACT. The Other Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are included in statistics for WA. Norfolk Island are included in statistics for NSW. Official ERP numbers for WA, ACT and NSW do not include Other Territories.

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Estimated resident population(a), single year of age - as at June 2020
NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust. (b)
3 yr old98,87280,74063,64119,87635,1035,8743,5365,682313,352
4 yr old103,58086,22966,12721,45836,2426,3383,7065,866329,600
5 yr old101,85584,56666,41720,84635,2766,2393,5025,947324,697
6 yr old102,03683,44467,39221,11334,9426,2563,4765,763324,489
  1. Estimated resident population (ERP) by state/territory and age as published on 17 December 2020 in National, state and territory population. The Census base for ERP is 2016
  2. Australia total includes Other Territories
     

Classifications

Statistics in this publication are presented according to Sector, Statistical Geography and Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).

Sector

The sector classification used in this publication is a combination of the service provider characteristics Service activity type and Management type, which are part of the ECEC NMDS. Where a child is enrolled in multiple preschool programs, the child’s sector is determined by the characteristics of all the providers at which the child was enrolled.

Tables presented with this classification assign episodes and unique child counts to states and territories according to the geographic location of the service provider.

Statistical geography

For the 2020 collection, data have been classified to the 2016 Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) standard. The ASGS has been updated based on results from the 2016 Census, including Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) and remoteness area.

The digital boundaries, codes and labels for each of these regions can be downloaded from the ABS website free of charge.

The remoteness structure within the ASGS divides each state and territory into areas on the basis of their relative access to services. The classes of remoteness area (RA) are:

  • major cities of Australia
  • inner regional Australia
  • outer regional Australia
  • remote Australia
  • very remote Australia
     

For more information please refer to the online publication: Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2016.

There are two sets of statistics presented using RAs in this publication. The RA of the child’s main service provider is used, and the RA of the child’s usual residence. Where a child’s usual residence is not stated, their main service provider’s geography is used as a proxy. If the service provider’s geography is also not stated, the child’s RA may be imputed where possible and otherwise included only in the totals. It is possible for states or territories to have a zero count in a certain RA class; Tasmania does not contain a major city, the Northern Territory does not contain a major city or an inner regional classification, and ACT does not contain remote or very remote classifications.

The quantity of records for which RA was derived, using service provider geography, can be identified from the not stated SEIFA IRSD data.

The ASGS local government areas are an ABS approximation of gazetted local government boundaries as defined by each state and territory local government department. The 2020 edition of the local government areas structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, June 2020.

The ASGS indigenous structure provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of Australia. The 2016 edition of the indigenous structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 2 - Indigenous Structure, July 2016.

The ASGS commonwealth electoral divisions are an ABS approximation of Australian Electoral Commission electoral division boundaries. The 2020 edition of the Commonwealth electoral divisions structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, June 2020.

The ASGS state electoral divisions are an ABS approximation of the respective state and territory electoral commission's state electoral districts. The 2020 edition of the State electoral divisions structure has been used in the collection. For more information, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures, June 2020.

Socio-economic indexes for areas

The SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2016 Census of Population and Housing information. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Quintiles are calculated by ordering the scores for all areas from lowest to highest, with the lowest 20% of areas given a quintile number of 1 and so on, up to the highest 20% of areas which are given a quintile number of 5. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measuring, for example, income or unemployment alone. The SEIFA index used for the collection is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD). Where a child’s geography was not stated, the SEIFA IRSD is published as not stated.

For more information on SEIFA please see the Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006.

Privacy and confidentiality

Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Privacy Act 1988. Some figures in this publication have been perturbed in order to prevent the disclosure of information that may allow the identification of individuals or organisations.

General acknowledgement

This publication draws on information provided by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Their continued cooperation enables the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to publish a wide range of education statistics. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 .

Additional information

For more information on the collection measurement concepts see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

For more information on data collection instructions and guidelines see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide (available on request).

Additional statistics are available from Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia using the TableBuilder and/or DataLab facilities.

For more information on estimated resident population and population projections, see National, state and territory population, Regional Population by Age and Sex and Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Appendix 1 - Service provider coverage

Table A1 shows the number of service providers from which data were collected for the 2020 collection. All service providers that delivered an early childhood education and care (ECEC) program by a qualified teacher to children between the ages of 3 and 6 years are included in the counts.

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A1 Number of early childhood education and care service providers delivering an ECEC program to children aged 3 to 6 years, sector(a)
   NSWVic.Qld(b)SAWATas.NTACTAust.
Preschool         
 Government157232171333667150123821,915
 Non-government         
  Community6358133903----1,841
  Private for profit(c)271-----10
  Independent schools217629131222433291
  Catholic schools1-308133304-206
  Total non-government6598964502425554732,348
 Total preschool8161,128621357922204130854,263
Preschool program within a centre based day care         
 Government21710820641712194461
 Non-government2,9881,6261,634381686116901717,692
 Total centre based day care(d)3,2051,7341,6544457031281091758,153
Total service providers with a preschool program delivered by a qualified teacher4,0212,8622,2758021,62533223926012,416

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. State/territory is derived from the provider's location.
b. Queensland data includes a small number of occasional care services providing a preschool program.
c. Includes 'Other'.
d. Some preschools are reclassified to centre based day care due to collection methodologies.
 

The counts were developed by processing service provider information from state and territory submissions and the Australian government’s child care subsidy system (CCSS) submission. Where the same service provider was identified across two data sources, the service provider has been counted only once.

Information from the multiple data sources was compared and service provider data characteristics were updated to make use of the best available data. This methodology resulted in reclassification of service activity type for some service providers in order to most accurately reflect the activity occurring at a service provider. For example, where a service provider was categorised as ‘preschool’ within a state or territory collection but was also categorised as ‘centre based day care with a preschool program’ within the CCSS submission, the service activity type ‘centre based day care with a preschool program' was adopted for that service provider.

Table A2 shows the number of service providers which had enrolments of 4 and 5 year old children. The category 'Total service providers with a preschool program' in this table corresponds to the child statistics reported in this publication.

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A2 Number of service providers with an early childhood education program delivered to children aged 4 and 5 years, sector(a)
   NSWVic.(b)Qld(c)SAWATas.NTACTAust.(d)
DELIVERED BY A QUALIFIED EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER
Preschool         
 Government155np1713336661467782np
 Non-government         
  Community629np3903----np
  Private for profit(e)2np1-----np
  Independent schools21np28131222433np
  Catholic schools1np308133294-np
  Total non-government653np449242555373np
 Total preschool808np6203579211998485np
Preschool program within a centre based day care         
 Government215np20641512114np
 Non-government2,962np1,62537967211589170np
 Total centre based day care(f)3,177np1,645443687127100174np
Total service providers with a preschool program delivered by a qualified teacher3,985np2,2658001,608326184259np
NOT DELIVERED BY A QUALIFIED EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER
Service providers with a preschool program not delivered by a qualified teacher(g)8np1--546-np
TOTAL
Total service providers with a preschool program3,9932,8502,2668001,60833123025912,337

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np Not available for publication
a. State/territory is derived from the provider's location.
b. Due to the temporary closure of preschool program providers in Victoria, service provider data for that jurisdiction is not published this year.
c. Queensland data includes a small number of occasional care services providing a preschool program.
d. Due to the temporary closure of preschool program providers in Victoria and to prevent incidental disclosure, service provider data for Australia is not published this year.
e. Includes 'Other'.
f. Some preschools are reclassified to centre based day care due to collection methodologies.
g. Includes not stated.

Appendix 2 - Estimates of 3 and 6 year old children in a preschool program

Table A3 contains counts of 3 and 6 year old children who were enrolled in and attended a preschool program in 2020. Since 2016, the collection has included all children enrolled at a CBDC centre for which data was supplied in the CCSS, contributing to increased coverage of 3 and 6 year old children. However for some of the other jurisdictional data sources, the reporting of 3 and 6 year olds enrolled in a preschool program is not mandatory and as a consequence the collection does not have complete coverage.

The 3 and 6 year old preschool data were also influenced by the different service delivery and funding models that exist throughout Australia. For some states and territories, and within some sectors, 3 year old preschool programs are only available for children who meet special preschool program early entry requirements. Enrolments for 6 year olds differ according to primary school starting age (see the Explanatory Notes).

Due to the limitations associated with 3 and 6 year old preschool data, care should be taken when interpreting and using the table below for statistical analysis or comparison to other data. The presented data is incomplete and does not provide an accurate and consistent view of the 3 year old population within or across states and territories. The data is presented with the aim of continuing to improve the coverage in future collections.

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A3 Estimates of 3 and 6 year old children in a preschool program(a)(b)
 NSWVic.(c)QldSAWATas.NTACT
CHILDREN AGED 3 YEARS
Attending a preschool program67,903np39,99711,66618,5232,9951,7274,171
Enrolled in a preschool program68,37541,17240,16411,74318,6242,9951,7804,175
CHILDREN AGED 6 YEARS
Attending a preschool program1,156np2,30610976810618173
Enrolled in a preschool program1,1567352,30610976810619173

np Not available for publication
a. Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data.
b. Due to the data limitations associated with 3 and 6 year old preschool data, care should be taken when interpreting and using the table for statistical analysis or comparison.
c. Due to the temporary closure of preschool program providers in Victoria, attendance data for that jurisdiction is not published this year.

Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional data quality statements

The 2020 National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (NECECC) brings together data submitted by many stakeholders. The 2020 NECECC was conducted to support performance based reporting for the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education – 2018–2021. To do this, it aims to compile child and service provider statistics from all service providers delivering an in-scope preschool program within Australia.

The NECECC uses data standards to ensure the quality and consistency of data submitted (hereafter referred to as NECECC standards). The 2020 Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (2020 ECEC NMDS), sets the 2020 NECECC standards, and can be accessed via the AIHW METeOR website. The 2020 NECECC standards were updated with clarifying wording to support interpretation regarding potential impacts of COVID-19.

The jurisdictional data quality statements allow for quality and consistency assessment across the data submissions that contribute to the NECECC. The statements have been informed by the ABS Data Quality Framework and have been developed, in consultation with the ABS, by the stakeholders responsible for submitting data for the NECECC. Any deviations from the NECECC standards are detailed accordingly.

The jurisdictional data quality statements also inform the overarching Data Quality Declaration for the publication, Preschool Education, Australia.

Jurisdictional data quality statements have been provided by the following organisations:

  • Australian Government - Department of Education, Skills and Employment (Australian Government DESE)
  • New South Wales - Department of Education (NSW DoE)
  • Victoria - Department of Education and Training (Vic. DET)
  • Queensland - Department of Education (Qld DoE)
  • South Australia - Department for Education (SA Department)
  • Western Australia - Department of Education (WA DoE)
  • Tasmania - Department of Education (Tas. DoE)
  • Northern Territory - Department of Education (NT DoE)
  • ACT - Education Directorate (the Directorate)
  • ACT - Catholic Education


To enhance readability across the data quality statements, the term ‘preschool’ has been used in place of where some jurisdictions may otherwise use the term ‘kindergarten’ or ‘early childhood education program’ (see the glossary for more information).

Australian Government

In 2020 the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) submission to the NECECC consisted of child care administrative data.

Child Care administrative data is information, collected in the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS), on child care services and the children and families that use Australian Government approved child care. The CCSS is the Australian Government's primary mechanism for managing child care payments. Child Care administrative data contains payment and related data on centre based day care (which includes the former long Day Care type care) services related to the delivery of early childhood education programs (ECEP) - also referred to as 'preschool' or 'kindergarten'.

Child care administrative data

Institutional environment

While DESE has portfolio responsibility for child care, responsibility for the operation of the child care administrative data is shared with the Australian Government Department of Services Australia.

Child care administrative data is collected for the purposes of administering Child Care Subsidy (which replaced the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR)) payments) under A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 (Cwlth), A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Cth) and Family Assistance Legislation (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Act 2017. Payments are administered by Services Australia.

Relevance

The CCSS is the national system that enables child care services to exchange child care information online with the Australian Government to enable the payment of Child Care Subsidy, on behalf of parents, to approved child care services. It also provides information about the national supply and usage of child care. All approved child care services must use the CCSS, but for the purposes of this Data Quality Statement, reference will be confined to centre based day care services required to meet the National Quality Framework (NQF).

Centre based day care services must regularly submit data to the CCSS, through software developed by registered third-party software providers, or directly via a web portal, and record child demographic, enrolment and attendance information.

Scope: In 2020, the scope of the child care administrative data extracted for the NECECC included:

  • all children aged 3 to 6 years from all approved centre based day care providers that operate in accordance with the NQF;
  • the primary source of hours data (enrolled and attended) was drawn from centre based day care providers standard data, in some cases jurisdiction data was used for hours (enrolled and attended) where it is available.

Coverage: All approved centre based day care providers are required to provide data related to the administration of Child Care Subsidy (such as enrolments and attendances) through the Child Care Subsidy System. Centre based day care providers approved for Child Care Subsidy but which do not operate in accordance with the NQF (such as former Occasional Care Services and Budget Based Funding services) and services not approved for Child Care Subsidy (such as state-run preschools) have been excluded, where possible, from child care administrative data.

Data collection methods: The 2020 child care administrative data used a unit record level (URL) collection methodology for children and services and is drawn from the Services Australia Enterprise Data Warehouse.

Timeliness

The first data extract from the CCSS was provided to the ABS in 2018. The 2020 child care administrative data for the reference week Monday 3 – Sunday 9 August 2020 was extracted in October 2020. The Australian Government DESE processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 18 January 2021.

Accuracy

Centre based day care services are required by A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Cth) and Family Assistance Legislation (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Act 2017 legislation, to submit certain records (weekly enrolments and attendance records etc.), for all children in attendance at the service. Record details, such as child dates of birth and reference numbers as well as service client IDs, are checked and cross-referenced. This ensures there can only be one current enrolment at a service for the same parent/guardian and child combination.

This results in:

  • high accuracy for child demographic details such as name, date of birth and address information etc. and the child's associated attendance records
  • high accuracy for children's ECEP attendance as it is assumed that all children attending a quality centre based day care service are receiving an Early Childhood Education Program.
     

Data on Indigenous status is captured within the Services Australia data warehouse.  Within the Services Australia data collections, families may identify as Indigenous or choose not to provide this information. Those families who choose not to identify are classified as ‘non-Indigenous’ rather than ‘unknown/not stated’ for the publication as per previous years.

The Indigenous status indicator used in the 2020 NECECC data has been revised. This was after inconsistencies in the Indigenous data were identified. The inconsistencies, particularly regarding how children and families are identified as being Indigenous, have now been addressed.

Coherence

The collection of child URL data ensures duplications are minimised and the total child count is as robust as systematically possible. Deviations between the NECECC standards and child care administrative data collected are outlined in the table below:

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Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Preschool program fees chargedData on preschool fees are not collected separately, and centre based day care services fees are used as a proxy.
Preschool program received from a qualified teacherThe CCSS does not record which staff member delivered ECEP or where centre based day care services may have waivers in place. It is assumed that all centre based day care services are delivering ECEP in accordance with requirements contained within the National Quality Framework.
Service operating weeksIn some cases the service operating weeks was not stated. It is a legal requirement that centre based day care services must operate for at least 48 weeks per year, so not stated was imputed to be 48 weeks.
Hours attended and offeredThe Child Care Subsidy was introduced on 2 July 2018, and it was not mandatory for services to start reporting hours attended until the fortnight ending 14 January 2019. However, as attended hours is relatively new data, hours enrolled has been used as a proxy for attended and offered hours.

Accessibility

Privacy and confidentiality requirements within family assistance law limit the publication of Child Care administrative data at certain granularities. De-identified aggregate data (which includes Child Care administrative data) are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website. A selection of Child Care administrative data is published quarterly and is available on the Australian Government DESE website www.education.gov.au.

Information source

The information in this report has been sourced from the Australian Government DESE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available from the Australian Government DESE website www.education.gov.au.

New South Wales

In 2020, the New South Wales Department of Education (NSW DoE) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from two data collections:

  • 'Government School Census'
  • 'Early Childhood Education (ECE) Annual Preschool Census'

A) Government School Census

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Government School Census was NSW DoE. Data for the Government School Census were collected under the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

Relevance

The data collected by NSW DoE enabled reporting across the NSW government schools sector for a variety of reporting requirements, as well as to measure progress against Australian Government Preschool education targets and Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms.

Scope: The scope of the preschool component of the Government School Census included all children enrolled in a preschool program or Early Intervention class at a government school in NSW. Children are eligible to enrol at a government preschool if they turn 4 on or before 31 July of that year. Priority is given to children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are unable to access other children's services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from families who experience financial hardship. While the majority of children are aged 4 or 5, if there is spare capacity, places may be offered to 3 year olds.

Children enrolled in an Early Intervention class at a NSW government school have been included in the Government School Census since 2012. Early intervention classes provide preschool education in a preschool setting for children with a disability.

Coverage: The 2020 Government School Census included all government schools in NSW.

Data collection methods: The 2020 Government Schools Census collected data using a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.

Timeliness

The Government School Census is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August, with a two-week reference period of 27 July to 7 August. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

The NSW DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 6 November 2020.

Accuracy

All NSW DoE government school-based preschools were required to participate in the Government School Census by completing an online census form. There were three sections to the preschool component of the Government School Census:

  • general preschool data (e.g. number of children enrolled, number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children)
  • class or group data (overall session details for service and individual enrolment and attendance by child, along with daily fees paid, date of birth, sex, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, language background other than English, refugee status, disability status, health care card status and suburb)
  • teacher data (e.g. qualifications and length of employment).


Indigenous students are identified at enrolment through the enrolment form. In 2015 the Indigenous status question on the form was changed to match the standard national question, with users required to select one of four answers corresponding to the first 4 values of the ECEC NMDS item Person-Indigenous status. The corresponding Indigenous status question on the Enrolment Registration Number (ERN) system matched the standard national question.

Schools were required to answer the question by selecting a single value from an on-screen drop down list. The values available for selection comprised the first 4 values of the ECEC NMDS as well as a supplementary value Unknown/Not Provided to accommodate instances where the parent or carer did not provide this information on the enrolment form. Several records for school-based preschools did not distinguish between Aboriginal children and Torres Strait Islander children. Records for these children were coded as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin not further defined.

During the collection period, NSW DoE extracted children's details from the 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, such as Health Care Card status, fees paid and attendance, and then electronically submitted the census to the secure DoE Collection portal.

NSW DoE ensured that all preschools submitted compulsory data. Preschools were notified about the data collection through the regular Principals' newsletter and reminder emails. Detailed instructions on collecting and entering the data using the secure NSW DoE Collections portal were available to preschools at all times during the survey period. The online census contained a number of validation rules to prevent inconsistencies and omissions. During the data collection period, preschool support workers could phone NSW DoE to clarify counting rules and data collection procedures. 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. Signoff was required from all Principals whose school provided an early childhood education program.

Coherence

Data collected through the 2020 Government School Census and submitted to the NECECC were comparable with data collected in 2018 and 2019, as these collections were undertaken using a URL data collection methodology. 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 NECECC standards.

Deviations between the National ECEC Collection standards and data collected from the Government Schools Census are outlined in the table below.

Download
Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Address line (Child)Full child address information was not collected for a very small proportion of children; only the suburb/town/locality name. This impacted on the ability to determine child disadvantage status and remoteness classifications, which may affect comparability across jurisdictions.
Early childhood education program hours enrolled per week (Child)Derived as most government preschools operate 6 hours per day. The system allows enrolment to be entered as half day or full day.
Early childhood education program hours attended per week (Child)Derived as most government preschools operate 6 hours per day. The system allows attendance to be entered as half day or full day.

Interpretability

NSW DoE preschools were notified about the Government Schools Census through the regular Principals' newsletter and reminder emails. Detailed instructions on collecting and entering data using the secure NSW DoE Collections portal were available to preschools at all times during the collection period.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the Government School Census are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

High level aggregate data is also available on the NSW Education Data Hub and Schools: In-Brief publication.

B) Early Childhood Education (ECE) Annual Preschool Census

In January 2017, the NSW Government introduced Start Strong, a new community preschool funding model.  Start Strong is a needs-based funding investment aimed at making 600 hours of preschool participation more affordable. Start Strong targets funding to children enrolled in community preschools who are aged 3 years or over, with additional equity funding directed to children who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or from low-income families as well as children with disabilities and/or additional needs. Additional loadings are also provided to children in outer regional, remote and very remote locations as well as children with additional language needs.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the 2020 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Annual Preschool Census is NSW DoE. Data for the ECE Annual Preschool Census was collected under Funding Specifications, which are contracts with each service provider outlining the terms of renewable funding under the Early Childhood Education Grants Program. These preschools and mobile preschools are regulated under the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law (NSW) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations. 

Relevance

The data collected by NSW DoE was 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. The data were also used for a variety of State and Commonwealth reporting requirements, as well as to measure progress against Commonwealth Preschool education targets and COAG reforms.

Scope: The scope of the ECE Annual Preschool Census included all children aged 0 to 6 years enrolled in a preschool program regulated and funded by NSW DoE. Services are required to give equal priority of access to children who are at least 4 years old on or before the 31 July in that preschool year and not enrolled or registered at a school; children who are at least 3 years old on or before 31 July and from low income or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families; children with English Language needs; children with disabilities; children who are at risk of significant harm (from a child protection perspective). There is no order of priority assigned to the list above.

Coverage: Participation in the ECE Annual Preschool Census was mandatory for NSW Government-funded preschools. The collection included NSW Government-funded (but not necessarily NSW Government-run) preschool services, including preschools operated by Catholic and Independent schools, preschools operated by local governments, and community-managed preschools. Early childhood education programs not funded by the NSW Government, including some preschools delivered in non-government schools, were not in scope of the collection. These services are not excluded from applying for NSW Government funding, provided that they meet eligibility criteria, consistent with the objectives of universal access. As and when any of these services do enter into a funding agreement with the NSW Government under the Early Childhood Education Grants Program, they are thereafter required to participate in the ECE Annual Preschool Census.

The majority of preschool programs in NSW are delivered by commercial centre based day care (CBDC) providers that receive minimal, non-ongoing funding from NSW DoE. As a result, no data was collected from these services by the NSW Government as part of the ECE Annual Preschool Census. Data on commercial CBDCs were collected for the NECECC by the Australian Government DESE using the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS).

Service providers that were registered for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) were requested to provide information in the ECE Annual Preschool Census only for children who did not receive the CCB or the CCR.

Data collection methods: The 2020 ECE Annual Preschool Census used a unit record level (URL) collection methodology for children and service providers.
 

Timeliness

The ECE Annual Preschool Census is an annual collection and was undertaken in 2020 from 27 July to 30 August, with a reference period of 3 August to 14 August. A reference fortnight was adopted to reflect the preschool delivery model in NSW whereby delivery of a preschool education program can vary between weeks. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

A small number of services in NSW experienced extenuating circumstances during the 2020 representative fortnight. In those instances, NSW have accepted what happened in the other census week as a proxy for child attendance only.

The NSW DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 6 November 2020.

Accuracy

In 2016 NSW DoE transferred the census collection function to its Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS). ECCMS is the online system used by NSW DoE and service providers to manage preschool service contracts and funding. The integration of the census function into ECCMS provided a number of benefits compared to the previous system:

  • improved data security through use of the Australian Government's MyGov ID to authenticate users
  • online management of user roles and permissions to control access to various features and functions
  • improved screen designs, workflow, system-based validations and logging of user activity
  • a data structure based on a service location entity to accommodate the delivery model for mobile services
  • re-specification of data items to align with NMDS definitions, measurement scales and reporting obligations.

In 2017, address validation was introduced at data input for child addresses.

There are four main sections to the census component of ECCMS:

  • Service and location details (drawn from core ECCMS and not editable by users)
  • Service location operating hours
  • Individual child details, e.g. name, address, daily fees, low income status, enrolment and attendance
  • Individual worker details, e.g. qualification field and level, main role, main work activity.


Information on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status was provided to the community preschool by a child's parent or carer in accordance with the record keeping requirements of the Education and Care Services National Regulations. However, the wording of the Indigenous status question and values available to select as an answer varied between preschools. The corresponding Indigenous status question in ECCMS matched the standard national question. Services were required to answer the question by selecting a single value from an on-screen drop down list. The values available for selection comprised the first 4 values of the NMDS as well as the supplementary value Not Stated to accommodate instances where the parent or carer did not provide this information to the Service.

Prior to data submission a user with a defined level of authority must enter a declaration that the entered data is correct. Following data submission NSW DoE undertook a data validation phase where submitted data were cross-checked for consistency with service operational characteristics and past submissions. Where large variations or unusual data was apparent, service providers were contacted to confirm data accuracy. If data was incorrect the census was reopened to allow the user to correct and resubmit data. All data validation rules were coded into SQL procedures, and NSW DoE maintained an anomalies database to track communications, and the status of potential errors.

Coherence

Data collected for the NECECC in 2020 were comparable with data collected in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, data items continued to be collected at the lowest (most granular) level of the service delivery hierarchy, i.e. service location (introduced in 2016).

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, considering data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. Deviations between the NECECC Standards and data collected from the ECE Annual Preschool Census are outlined in the below table.

Download
Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Address line (Child)Full child address information was not collected for a very small proportion of children; only the suburb/town/locality name.
Early childhood education program hours attended per week (Child)Derived as the product of service location operating hours (Service Provider) and days attended (Child) and adjusted to a reference week.
Early childhood education program hours enrolled per week (Child)Derived as the product of service location operating hours (Service Provider) and days enrolled (Child) and adjusted to a reference week.
Early childhood education program delivered by a qualified teacher indicator (Service Provider)Derived. A service was considered to have delivered an early childhood education program by a qualified teacher if there was at least one worker at the service recorded as a qualified early childhood teacher.

Interpretability

NSW DoE provided a range of information and support to service providers throughout all stages of the collection. These included:

  • regular emails to services in the lead up to and during the collection phase in 2020, a dedicated census webpage providing summary information, portal access and links to resources and contact information.

Detailed instructions on the process of data entry, including explanations and examples of concepts, were provided online within the application via summary 'tooltips' and extensive online help. NSW DoE also provided a separate ECE Annual Preschool Census Quick Reference Guide. During the 6 week collection phase service providers could also contact a dedicated 1300 phone number and email for assistance.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the ECE Annual Preschool Census are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

Selected results from the census may be published in media releases, on the Department’s website and in Ministerial speeches, including in Parliament.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been sourced from the NSW DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the NSW DoE website https://education.nsw.gov.au/

Victoria

In 2020, Victoria was in a Stage 4 lockdown due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) during the NECECC reference week. Only children of essential workers and families experiencing vulnerability were permitted to attend an onsite program at an early childhood education and care service.  Funded kindergarten services continued to provide preschool programs via remote online learning to those children not permitted to attend.

Due to this unique situation, and as agreed in consultation with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Government DESE, the Victorian Department of Education and Training (Vic. DET) did not conduct the annual Kindergarten Census that forms part of Victoria’s NECECC submission in 2020.

The 2020 NECECC data submission from the Victorian Department of Education and Training was sourced solely from the Kindergarten Information Management (KIM) system administrative data.

Data that is missing from the 2020 NECECC submission is described in the Deviation from the NECECC Standards table.

Institutional environment

Vic. DET was responsible for the KIM system data collection in 2020. Data were collected in accordance with Funding and Service Agreement requirements.

Relevance

Data were collected through the KIM system to enable accurate funding provision and reporting of key data across the Victorian Preschool sector, as well as to collect data to meet national reporting requirements.

Scope: The scope of data collected in the KIM system included all children aged 3 to 6 years of age who were enrolled during the reference period in Vic. DET funded preschool programs for children in the year prior to school. The only data for 3 year-olds are the children who are aged 3 years when they are attending the preschool program in the year before school.

Coverage: Data was collected from all service providers with current Funding and Service Agreements with Vic. DET.

Funded services comprise the vast majority of preschool service providers in Victoria. A small number of centre based day care (CBDC) providers operating programs for children in the year before school were not funded by Vic. DET and as a result, no data were collected from these services.

Data collection methods: The KIM system uses a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.

Timeliness

KIM is a live system and service providers are required to update service and enrolment data throughout the year. All service providers were requested to check their enrolment information was up to date in KIM prior to the reference week. The KIM data used in the NECECC submission was extracted from the system on 31 August 2020.

The Vic. DET compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 27 November 2020.

Accuracy

Data was collected from services via Vic. DET's online KIM system. Services provided data through a workflow which included validation and completeness checks.

Coherence

Victoria has used a URL collection methodology since 2011, which means data collected in 2020 is comparable with previous years to 2011.

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking in to account any data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. Deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected from the KIM system are outlined in the table below.

Interpretability

Extensive explanatory information was provided in Vic. DET's online KIM system and on the DET website. If service providers required clarification about the collection, they were also able to contact their regional office or the KIM helpdesk.

Vic. DET provides information on funding criteria and data collection responsibilities in the publication 'The Kindergarten Guide', which is available on the Vic. DET website http://www.education.vic.gov.au/childhood/providers/funding/Pages/kinderfundingcriteria.aspx.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the KIM system in 2020 are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

Headline figures from the KIM data extracts are published in Vic. DET Annual reports, in Victorian budget papers and as part of the Report on Government Services on the Australian Government Productivity Commission website.

Selected data are published on the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System Portal.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been sourced from DET Victoria in consultation with the ABS.

Download
Deviation from NECECC standards

Data Element

Details of Deviation

Fees charged (Child)

Fee data was not collected from CBDC services in 2020. Most families of children in dedicated preschool settings were not charged fees during the reference week because service providers were offered funding by the Victorian Government to deliver a free program due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). For the remaining dedicated preschool enrolments, fees charged were derived from fee data entered into the KIM system at the start of the calendar year.

Maximum early childhood education program hours available (Child)

Program hour data was not collected from CBDC services.

Early childhood education program attendance (Child)

Attendance data was not collected.

Early childhood education program hours attended (Child)

Hours of an early childhood education program received from qualified teacher/s (Child)

Hours of an early childhood education program received from qualified teacher/s are unknown as attendance data was not collected.

Early childhood education program received from a qualified teacher (Child)

Funded kindergarten services in Victoria are required to have a qualified teacher delivering the funded kindergarten program. Data was not collected to confirm if a program was delivered or received.

Early childhood education program delivered by a qualified teacher (Service Provider)

Early childhood education program hours enrolled (Child)

Enrolment hours were not collected from CBDC services.

Management type (Service provider)

The legal entity status of the funded organisation reported by each service provider (excluding Independent schools) was used as a proxy measure for management type. This may not have produced consistent classifications of management type for all service providers. Independent schools were categorised using the ‘funding status’ flag in the Vic. DET funding system and assigned a management type of Code 6: Independent school, regardless of the legal entity status of the funded organisation.

Note: The table above lists data missing from Vic. DET’s NECECC data submission.  Where possible, missing Victorian CBDC data may be supplemented in Preschool Education, Australia with CBDC data from the Australian Government.

Queensland

In 2020, the Queensland Department of Education (Qld DoE) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the annual Early Childhood Education and Care Services Census (ECECSC), which collected childcare enrolment data, workforce data, and preschool program and enrolment data.

Early Childhood Education and Care Services Census

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the 2020 ECECSC is Qld Department of Education (Qld DoE). Data for the 2020 ECECSC were collected under the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (Qld), the Education and Care Service National Law 2011 (Qld) and the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld).

Relevance

Data collected from the ECECSC enables Qld DoE to report on a variety of matters, such as the performance of the preschool sector to the Qld and Australian Governments and the community. The data are used to provide evidence for policy and program development and planning and to monitor outcomes of early childhood initiatives such as the department's Workforce Action Plan and the implementation of the Education and Care Services National Law.

Scope: The 2020 ECECSC includes all children who were enrolled in a licensed or approved child care service or State-delivered preschool program provided by a government school or through distance education. This included children that were enrolled in centre based day care (CBDC), preschool, State-delivered preschool, Limited Hours Care, eKindy, State-delivered early childhood development programs, Family Day Care and School Aged Care Services at the time of the ECECSC.

Children aged 3 to 6 enrolled in a preschool program were considered in-scope for the ECECSC. However, data on 3 year olds is not likely to reflect the full 3 year old population in preschool. Data on 3 year olds were likely only collected if a 3 year old was enrolled and attending a preschool program specifically aimed at children in the year before full-time schooling (i.e. aimed at 4 and 5 year olds).

Coverage: The 2020 ECECSC achieved a 100% coverage of all approved service providers in Queensland. This includes all funded and unfunded services.

Data collection methods: The 2020 ECECSC used a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for funded approved programs. Data for unfunded CBDC programs (CBDC) was supplied separately to the ABS for the NECECC by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) from the Childcare Subsidy System (CCSS).

Timeliness

The ECECSC is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken in the week commencing 3 August 2020, with reference period 3 August to 9 August 2020. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

The Qld DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 15 October 2020.

Accuracy

For the 2020 ECECSC, data were collected from service providers via an online survey tool.

As part of the internal validation process for 2020, Qld DoE included online guides as well as explanatory notes within the online census to assist service providers with definitions and responses. Edit checks were built into the online census, which ensured that valid data were supplied. Data supplied by service providers also underwent a range of validation and edit checks post enumeration to ensure that the information was complete, internally consistent and fell within fixed known parameters.

Since 2015, Qld DoE has required a response to the Indigenous Status question for preschool children. This has eliminated issues with missing data from some records from earlier years and significantly reduced instances of "unknown" values for this item.

Coherence

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 NECECC standards. There were no deviations between the NECECC standards and the ECECSC data collected.

Interpretability

Qld DoE provided a range of information to assist in the collection and reporting of data, such as explanatory notes for providers. Explanatory notes, together with printable copies of ECECSC collection forms for staff, were available from the Qld DoE website https://earlychildhood.qld.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-research/early-childhood-education-and-care-services-census

Accessibility

Data sourced from the 2020 ECECSC Collection are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

Data from the ECECSC are published on the Qld DoE website: https://qed.qld.gov.au/publications/reports/statistics/early-years.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been sourced from Qld DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the Qld DoE website https://earlychildhood.qld.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-research/early-childhood-education-and-care-services-census.

South Australia

In 2020, South Australia's Department for Education (SA Department) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the Annual Census of Children's Services (ACCS).

Annual Census of Children's Services

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the ACCS is SA Department. Data for the ACCS were collected under the Education Act 1972 (SA) and the Education Regulations 1997 (SA).

Relevance

Information gathered by the ACCS included patterns of service usage and characteristics of children and families. The data were required by the SA Government for forward planning and the analysis of needs and gaps in current service provision. The data from this collection also enables reporting across the SA preschool sector.

Scope: The scope of the 2020 ACCS included children aged 3 to 5 years who were enrolled and attending (or expected to attend) a government managed or government funded preschool service (including integrated centres with a child care service), or a funded preschool program operating in non-government child care centres or schools. Out of scope were preschool services that receive no funding for their preschool program from the SA Department.

Children who are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and children under the guardianship of the Minister for Education, are eligible under the SA Department’s Preschool Enrolment Policy to commence a government managed or government funded preschool after their third birthday and are entitled to up to 480 hours of preschool in the two years before full-time school. These children have been included as in scope.

Some funded preschool programs operating in non-government child care centres or schools also provide preschool to 3 year old children. SA Department does not obligate these services to provide data for these children in the ACCS unless they are enrolled in a preschool program in their year before full time school and are receiving preschool funding from SA Department for these children. Any data received for 3 year old children from these non-government services (regardless of whether they are in their year before full-time school) in the ACCS was submitted in the NECECC.

Coverage: In 2020, the ACCS achieved full coverage of all government managed and government funded preschools, including Independent and Catholic schools with funded preschool programs, and funded non-government centre based day care providers with a preschool program.

Unfunded Independent and Catholic school managed preschool providers and centre based day care (CBDC) providers with no department funded preschool program are not invited to participate in the ACCS. There are a relatively small percentage of South Australian children who have received a preschool program delivered by one of these unfunded services.

Data collection methods: The 2020 ACCS used a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.
 

Timeliness

The ACCS is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August, with reference period of 3 August to 14 August 2020. This reference fortnight was adopted by the department to reflect the preschool delivery model in SA. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

SA Department compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 6 November 2020.

Accuracy

In 2020, the ACCS collected data through the use of two systems, one for non-government preschool providers and the other for department preschools. The Early Years System (EYS) is a web-based preschool administration system used by department preschools in SA. Non-government preschool providers that are funded by the department use the Non-Government Preschool Data System (NGPDS) to submit the data required for the ACCS.

The NGPDS has been developed as a web-based preschool data reporting system that serves the dual purpose of collecting data requirements for grant funding administration as well as to satisfy State and National reporting obligations. Both the EYS and NGPDS have been developed with the capability of importing data from other administrative systems (e.g. Child Care Subsidy Systems or CCSS) to reduce respondent burden and input error. Both the EYS and NGPDS have validation rules built in to ensure services are submitting accurate data that is compliant with the NECECC standards.

SA Department collated data collected from both systems using a data repository known as the Early Childhood Data System or Data Administration Centre (DAC). The DAC allows for Data Reporting and Analytics staff to administer a data collection and to run checks and validations on the data received from service providers. The DAC also performs sequential match coding for children enrolled in preschool across multiple services. Service provider details are stored and maintained in the Location Services System (LSS), from which data for the 2020 Collection were also obtained.

Indigenous students are identified by the department through the standard question "Is the child of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?" on the Preschool Enrolment Form.

Coherence

Most data collected through the 2020 ACCS were generally comparable with equivalent data in the 2014-2019 NECECC. Due to system developments and data improvements, some data may not be comparable to 2013 data. With the exception of 2013, these years were undertaken using similar URL data collection methodologies.

The Department preschools also transitioned to a single intake preschool enrolment policy in 2013, which impacted on counts in 2014. Children are entitled to 4 terms of preschool in the year before they start school as follows:

  • If a child turns 4 before 1 May, they may start preschool in Term 1 in that year
  • If a child turns 4 on or after 1 May, they are eligible to start preschool from the beginning of Term 1 in the following year.

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking in to account any data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. There were no deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected from the 2020 ACCS.
 

Interpretability

The department provided a range of information to assist in the reporting of data, such as the 2020 ACCS Booklet and Coding Instructions. Key material was provided in the form of manuals and fact sheets to support the correct interpretation and explanation of concepts. The NGPDS is an intuitive system and user training has been provided via a webpage that contains user guides, video tutorials, and ACCS instructions. A dedicated EYS/NGPDS Support Team was in place to support users with technical issues or queries with either the EYS or NGPDS and the Data Management and Reporting team were available to respond to any data related questions.
 

Accessibility

Data sourced from the ACCS are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been provided by SA Department in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available on the Department's website https://www.education.sa.gov.au

Western Australia

In 2020, the Western Australia Department of Education (WA DoE) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the WA August School Census.

WA August School Census

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the WA August School Census is the WA Department of Education (WA DoE). Data for 2020 were collected under the School Education Act 1999 (WA).

Relevance

Scope: The scope of the preschool component of the WA August School Census consisted of children who were attending a preschool program within a government or non-government school, including community based preschools operating under provisions of the School Education Act 1999.

Coverage: Full coverage was achieved for all registered and funded schools (both government and non-government) and community-based preschools operating under provisions of the School Education Act 1999. As preschool programs provided in Centre based day care (CBDC) settings are not funded or regulated by WA DoE, these service providers were not included in the WA August School Census.

Data collection methods: The 2020 WA August School Census used a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.
 

Timeliness

The WA August School Census is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August. The reference period for all data was the two weeks ending 7 August.

The WA DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 4 November 2020.
 

Accuracy

Government and community preschools’ data were obtained 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 was extracted from school enrolment records at the census date. Non- government schools uploaded URL data using a comma-separated value file to the WA DoE's online Student Census System.

Following the validation checks detailed below, government, non-government and community preschool data collected through the WA August School Census were then stored in the Student Census System data warehouse, and extracted for the purposes of the NECECC.

Internal validation processes for the WA August 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. 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. The third set of validation rules were built into the custom software which loaded the census data into the Student Census System data warehouse.

Data for the NECECC’s ‘Service provider organisation—early childhood education program delivered by a qualified teacher indicator’ data element are obtained using an annual Kindergarten Provision Survey that is conducted at the same time as the WA August School Census.

Indigenous students are identified at enrolment using a standard enrolment form question. The coding of the responses is as per the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC), i.e. 1 - 4, and 9 for not stated or inadequately described. Schools' student information systems do not allow valid entries other than prescribed. WA DoE is confident it achieves a very high level of accuracy of its Indigenous identification, with results showing a high level of concordance with other independent measures/estimates (e.g. ABS's ERPs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians).

This is attributed to a strong push within the WA school sector (in which most preschools reside) to address:

  • learning needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • Aboriginal Education Officer involvement in schools to liaise with local Aboriginal communities to assist them enrol their children where applicable
  • a student-centred funding model in the WA public school system which provides a higher rate of funding for students (including those in preschool) who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students to address their needs.
  • Schools' census data are also subjected to audit by the WA DoE.

Coherence

The 2020 data are fully comparable to the data collected in 2018 and 2019.

Other changes over time which affected the comparability include:

  • From 2015, data about preschool hours enrolled and attended were each collected specifically for the reference week. In 2014, however, hours enrolled was collected in relation to a 'typical' week and hours attended was collected in relation to the reference week. Consequently, enrolled and attended hours data in 2014 were not fully consistent (e.g. there were some cases where attendance hours exceed enrolment hours or hours offered). The 2015 to 2019 data are not affected by this limitation.
  • From 2015, maximum preschool program hours available were specifically for the reference week, rather than for a 'typical' week as used in 2014.
  • In 2017, the ‘Child—hours of an early childhood education program received from qualified teacher/s indicator’ was collected for preschool students in WA government schools as part of a national trial.  The data were only collected in 2017.

Data from 2014 to 2020 about preschool enrolment and attendance hours are not comparable to 2013 data due to a materially different methodology:

  • From 2014, URL data about preschool hours enrolled and attended were collected as part of the WA August School Census for all children enrolled at government, non-government and community-based preschools. This process replaced the less refined process used in 2013 that collected child attendance information in aggregated form through a series of questions in the Kindergarten Provision Survey. Attendance hours data from 2013 are therefore not comparable to attendance hours data in 2014 to 2020.
  • From 2014, maximum preschool program hours available were collected from service providers via the Kindergarten Provision Survey rather than being derived from the number of hours enrolled by preschool students (used prior to 2014).

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 is only considered to be enrolled if they were enrolled at the school and had either attended at least one half-day in the two weeks immediately preceding the WA August School Census day or were absent due to illness or extended holiday with a known return date before the end of the school term.

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, considering data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. Deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected from the WA August Student Census are outlined in the table below.

Download
Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Enrolment reference period (Child)The child must be enrolled at the preschool on the WA August School Census day (7 August 2020) and must have either attended at least one half-day in the two weeks immediately preceding the WA August School Census day or had documented evidence that the absence was due to illness or extended holiday leave with a known return date before the end of the school term.
Definition of enrolment (Child)In WA, a child is only considered to be enrolled if they were enrolled at the preschool on the WA August School Census day (7 August 2020) and had either attended at least one half-day in the two weeks immediately preceding the WA August School Census day or had documented evidence that the absence was due to illness or extended holiday leave with a known return date before the end of the school term.
Residential address (Child)For children for whom a valid address was not provided, the child’s address (SA1 and meshblock) information was imputed using the SA1 and meshblock address information for the service provider.

Interpretability

For all schools, the collection instrument contained significant guidance and computation rules to prevent inconsistent responses in relation to prior data entries. WA DoE and non-government sector staff who assisted schools to complete the WA August School Census were trained to provide phone and email support through the WA DoE Customer Service Centre system.

Accessibility

Data are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website. Aggregated data are also available from the WA DoE website.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been provided by WA DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available on the WA DoE website http://www.education.wa.edu.au.

Tasmania

In 2020, the Tasmania Department of Education (Tas. DoE) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the Tasmanian 2020 ECEC Data Collection.

Tasmania 2020 ECEC Collection

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection was the Tasmanian Department of Education (Tas. DoE). Data for the 2020 Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection were collected under the Education Act 2016 (Tas.).

Relevance

The data collected by Tas. DoE in the Tasmanian 2020 ECEC Data Collection were used to report on Tasmanian achievements against performance targets, as well as progress against Australian Government preschool education targets and COAG reforms. For preschools, the information obtained was also used in determining the funding of services by the Tasmanian government.

Scope: The scope of the preschool education component of the Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection consisted of all children enrolled in a preschool program in 2020. The Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection was managed in conjunction with the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office and Independent Schools Tasmania. This ensures preschool children at non-government schools are accurately represented.

Data for 3 year old children were included in the 2020 Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection if they were granted an exemption to start preschool before they turned 4 years old as at 1 January 2020. This exemption is granted if:

  • The student is assessed as gifted, or
  • The student was previously enrolled in a preschool program interstate in 2019 or 2020, to enable contiguous school education.

Coverage: The Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection included all registered Tasmanian schools, which is defined as all Government, Catholic, and Independent schools, along with Education and Care providers registered as a school in Tasmania.

Data collection methods: The 2020 Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection was conducted using a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.

Timeliness

The Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August 2020, with a reference period of 27 July to 7 August 2020. This reference fortnight was adopted to reflect the preschool delivery model in Tasmania. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

Tas. DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 6 November 2020.

Accuracy

Child level: The process of obtaining and processing data in Tasmania commenced with government service providers uploading information from each child enrolment form into the Tas. DoE student management system 'EduPoint' which stored the information in a data warehouse. The data warehouse contains in-built data quality checks that provide timely data feedback to schools. Data from the warehouse were then used to populate the Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection. Non government schools enter student, timetable, attendance and teacher information into a secured online application.

Service Provider level: The data of government and non-government service providers were reviewed and cleaned by Tas. DoE staff. This process included numerous system quality checks such as confirming student ages, hours enrolled, and verifying duplicate enrolments across schools. A declaration stage is included in the data collection application, which each principal was required to review and declare that all data were true and correct. This set of students became the authoritative dataset for the census date (7 August). Preschool data were extracted from this census application to match with all other data collated for this Collection. Extensive quality assurance occurred for the attendance and teacher qualification data, to ensure that data were consistent with other Tas. DoE data sources.


All teachers in Tasmania must be registered by the Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania. As a result of the registration process, some long-term teachers have teaching certification or relevant 3 year degrees. The registration process requires all long-term teachers to demonstrate, through teaching experience, that they meet the criteria for an equivalent 4 year degree standard. If a long-term teacher meets this criterion, the teachers are deemed to have a 4 year teaching qualification for registration purposes.


Some specific validation methods applied in the data collection application and by Tas. DoE included:

  • data code compliance with the NECECC standards
  • detection of inconsistent data coding, e.g. teachers with no qualifications and students with dates of birth outside expected date ranges, indicating coding errors
  • comparisons of student enrolment counts with previous year data
  • review of school summary tables by student data by various categories, i.e. Indigenous status, enrolment hours
  • students in repeat years of preschool.

 

Indigenous students are identified at enrolment in Tasmanian government schools using the national ACARA schools’ enrolment question: "Is the student of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?" The responses available are: No; Yes, Aboriginal; Yes, Torres Strait Islander; or Yes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. If a student or family doesn't answer the question, then the response is "Not Stated".

For Non-government schools, the same question is asked, with available responses from the non-government Kinder enrolment system: Aboriginal but not Torres Strait Islander origin; Torres Strait Islander but not Aboriginal origin; Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin; Neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander origin; and Not stated/inadequately described. Again if there is no response, it is coded as "Not Stated".

Finally, Tasmania undertakes significant quality assurance on the data to ensure correct coding. Overall student numbers are in line with expectations and each school is reviewed to ensure the question and responses are representative.

Coherence

The Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection submission to the NECECC were comparable with data collected in 2013 to 2019, as all collections were undertaken using a consistent unit record level (URL) data collection methodology.

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking into account any data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. Deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected from the 2020 Tasmanian ECEC Collection are outlined in the table below.

Download
Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Maximum preschool program hours available (Child)The data element ‘Preschool program attendance hours’ was used as a proxy for this data element.
Child attendance and enrolment dataHours of attendance were derived from the kinder class times. Attendance was recorded per student per class.

Interpretability

To support data custodians participating in the Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection, a guide was sent to service providers for the collection application to assist users with the data collection system. 

Accessibility

Data sourced from the Tasmanian ECEC Data Collection are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website. 

Government student Kinder numbers are published in the Tasmanian Department of Education’s Annual report.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been sourced from Tas. DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the Tas. DoE website http://www.education.tas.gov.au or email kinder@education.tas.gov.au.

Northern Territory

In 2020, the Northern Territory Department of Education (NT DoE) submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the Age/Grade Census.

The 2020 Age/Grade Census consisted of three components:

  • Student Census
  • Staff Census
  • Preschool Census (Students and Staff).

Age/Grade Census

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Census is the Northern Territory Department of Education (NT DoE). Data for the Census were collected under the Education Act (NT) 2016.

Relevance

Data collected from the Age/Grade Census enables reporting on Northern Territory (NT) schools and the preschool sector for a variety of reporting requirements. The preschool data collected from the Age/Grade Census is used for the Supplementary Recurrent Assistance Enrolment Data Collection, the Report on Government Services (ROGS), National Partnership Agreements, government budget paper estimates and the NT DoE annual report.

Scope: The scope of the preschool component of the Age/Grade Census includes all children enrolled in preschool who have attended a government or registered non-government preschool at least once during the 4 week reference period 13 June - 7 August 2020 (the reference period did not apply during the NT school holidays 1 July - 19 July 2020). Two remote schools operate on different school terms and had the reference periods 22 June to 31 July and 15 June to the 21 August respectively.

In the NT, children are eligible to enrol in preschool at the beginning of the year if they turn 4 years of age on or prior to 30 June of the same year. Children in very remote schools may be enrolled in a preschool program when they turn three years of age, provided they will be accompanied by a parent who will remain with them for each session. This is an important strategy to engage children in remote areas in early childhood education programs.

Coverage: All government and registered non-government preschools participated in the Age/Grade Census. While the data collection methodology used for non-government preschools differed from that applied to government preschools, the data collected were at the same level of detail and are comparable with data from government preschools.

Centre based day care providers that deliver preschool programs were not within scope for the Age/Grade Census. For the purpose of the NECECC, the Australian Government Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) was used for coverage of this sector.

Data collection methods: The 2020 Age/Grade Census used a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.

 

Timeliness

The Age/Grade Census is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August. The four-week reference period of 13 June – 7 August 2020 was used to determine which children are to be included in the collection. For the two schools operating on different school terms the reference period was 22 June to 31 July and 15 June to 21 August respectively.
 

Subsequently, the preschool data is converted to a two-week reference period (27 July – 7 August 2020); for instance, their hours offered is calculated over the two-week reference period not the four-week reference period. Their attendance is calculated over the week including Friday 7 August. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

The NT DoE compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 19 November 2020.

Accuracy

Child level data: In 2020, data extracts from the Student Census record level information were submitted from each government and some non-government schools' Student Administration and Management System (SAMS). Non-government schools without SAMS provided child, teacher and service provider record level information via Excel spread sheets. Additional data for staff and preschool (students and staff) were collected through an online survey tool for government schools. All data was processed centrally for inclusion in the Age Grade census collection.

It should be noted that seasonal attendance patterns for the NT show lowest attendance during August. This is partially due to sporting and community events and the transient lifestyle of remote and very remote populations.

After data were processed by NT DoE, school principals were required to check the data, edit if necessary, and confirm accuracy. Business rules guided the processing of data. All three components of the Age Grade Census required formal sign-off from school principals for the final data lodgement, stating it was a true and accurate representation of their school for the reference period. This ensured the quality and validity of the data being provided. Internal validation of the early childhood data was subsequently undertaken.

Detailed validation processes used by NT DoE in 2020 were as follows:

  • School validation: schools were provided with a validation report and were required to confirm the information was correct. Schools were required to carry out validation reporting to maintain data quality, targeting such areas as child Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, gender and age.
  • System validation: the validation process included historical comparison of trends, comparison of enrolments and schooling level proportions, cross checking missing data and application of national reporting rules.

Students’ Indigenous status is identified through the enrolment form. Government schools use the following question:
 

Download
QuestionResponse
Is the student of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?No
Yes, Aboriginal 
Yes, Torres Strait Islander 
Yes, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

 

Where no answer is recorded, schools are asked to follow up with the parent/guardian to confirm the Indigenous status of the child. This is done throughout the year and also forms part of the validation process for the Age/Grade Census. Students without a valid Indigenous status are flagged in validation reports. If the parent/guardian does not wish to disclose the Indigenous status it is recorded as Not Stated.

Non-government schools are not required to use the same enrolment form as government schools so the wording may vary slightly. 

Coherence

Data collected through the 2020 Age/Grade Census were comparable with data collected in 2019. These collections were undertaken using a consistent URL data collection methodology.

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 NECECC standards.

Deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected from the Census are outlined in the table below.

Download
Deviation from the NECECC standards
Data ElementDetails of Deviation
Early childhood program hours attended (Child)Attended hours for NT Government preschools are derived from early childhood program sessions attended per week as per NECECC standards specifications. Attended hours from NT Non-Government preschools are recorded as the actual number of hours of preschool that a child attended including non-instructional times such as recess, tea breaks and lunch breaks where a child was under the supervision of the school.
Date of birth (Child)Where date of birth was unavailable, it was estimated at 01/01/YYYY.
Address—statistical area level 1 (SA1) code (Child)Geo-coding for some child addresses was less accurate where instances of remote residences or street names were not supplied. For those child addresses that did not code to SA1, SA2 was provided. Otherwise unknown or incomplete addresses were coded to the NT not stated code, 79999998999
Address—statistical area level 1 (SA1) code (Service Provider)Geo-coding for some remote preschool addresses was less accurate where street names were not available. Unknown or incomplete addresses were coded to NT not stated code, 79999998999

Interpretability

The NT DoE provided a range of information to service providers to assist in the collection and reporting of data, such as manuals and fact sheets, to support correct interpretation and definition of concepts. Detailed reports and instructional papers on the requirements, processes and rules for submitting data through the Census were provided to service providers to assist with data provision.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the Age/Grade Census are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

The Age/Grade Census preschool data is also available via the NT DoE’s annual report and NT Department of Treasury and Finance Budget Papers Agency KPIs. The data is summarised and excludes centre based day care.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been sourced from NT DoE in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the NT DoE website https://education.nt.gov.au/.

Australian Capital Territory

Government data quality statement

In 2020, the NECECC data submission from the ACT Education Directorate (the Directorate) consisted of data from the August ACT Public Schools Census.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the August ACT Public Schools Census is the ACT Education Directorate.

Data for the 2020 census were collected under the Education Act 2004 (ACT), the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT), and the ACT Childcare Services Standards 2009.

Relevance

Scope: The scope of the preschool component sourced from the ACT Public School Census included all children between 4 and 6 years of age attending public preschools. It is ACT policy that preschool is only provided to 4 and 5 year olds and this policy has been applied more strictly since 2016, resulting in no/zero 3 year olds being included in the collection except Koori children and 3 year old Accelerated Entry - Gifted and Talented children enrolled in the year before full time schooling for 15 hours per week.

Children enrolled in a preschool program at Jervis Bay School were included in the census as that school is administered by the ACT Education Directorate on behalf of the Australian Government. Children who were absent for more than 4 continuous school weeks prior to the census date were included if the principal received written documentation signed by the child's guardian indicating that the child would return to school.

Coverage: Full coverage for 2020 was achieved for all ACT Government managed schools.
Data collection methods: The 2020 ACT Public School Census used a URL data collection methodology for children and service providers.

Timeliness

In August each year, the Directorate conducts a census of public school enrolments. The 2020 ACT Public School Census was conducted on Friday 7 August 2020, The ACT Public School Census was conducted on Friday 7 August, with a reference period of 3 August to 14 August 2020. Fortnightly attendance data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

The ACT Education Directorate compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 16 October 2020.
 

Accuracy

Child level data: On 7 August 2020, the ACT public schools enrolment data was captured from the school administration system (SAS) and cross checked with schools for accuracy. Individual child information was captured from data supplied via an enrolment form which was entered in the student administration system (SAS) by school staff. The principal of each school was required to sign off on their school's total enrolment count by sex and year level. Any inconsistencies were followed up for correction.

Key approaches undertaken by the ACT to manage the quality of its data processing for 2020 are as follows:

  • ACT's system included automatic edits and mandatory fields, such as date of birth, sex, family details, attendance status and Indigenous status
  • ACT cross checked addresses for the preschools ensuring one existed for each service provider
  • Child addresses were geo-coded to produce valid SA1 codes and MB

The ACT carried out validation of 2020 data in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • Manual data entry was avoided where possible through an automatic transfer of child information when the child had previously attended another ACT public school
  • Date of birth was checked against year level and outliers were followed up
  • Duplicate records of one child attending two schools were followed up
  • Data checks included matching back to the original census data and running aggregate counts for each field.

To meet reporting requirements for the two-week reference period, child level attendance data was extracted from a new student administration system which is in the process of implementation. Care should be taken when comparing this data with data from previous years and from other jurisdictions.

Service provider level data: The process of obtaining service provider information from public preschools in the ACT was managed through the school administrative system.
 

Coherence

Data collected through the 2020 preschool components of the ACT Public School Census were comparable with data collected in 2019, as both collections were undertaken using a consistent URL data collection methodology.

An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking into account data elements not consistent with the NECECC standards. There were no deviations between the NECECC standards and the data collected from the ACT Public School Census.
 

Interpretability

ACT Preschools were notified of the data collection through the ACT Education Directorate intranet. The Directorate provided government schools with a manual to assist users with the ACT Public School Census Module, including instructions and validation techniques.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the ACT Public School Census are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website. School-level preschool enrolment counts are reported in the ACT Public School Census publication.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been provided by the ACT Education Directorate in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available from the Directorate website https://www.education.act.gov.au/

ACT Catholic Preschool Collection

In 2020 the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn submission to the NECECC consisted of data from the ACT Catholic Preschool Collection.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the ACT Catholic Preschool Collection was The Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Data for 2020 were collected under the Education Act 2004 (ACT), the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT), and the ACT Childcare Services Standards 2009.

Relevance

Scope: The scope of the preschool component of the ACT Catholic Preschool Collection included all children between 4 and 5 years of age attending a preschool program in a Catholic school. Children who were absent for more than 4 continuous school weeks prior to the census date were included if the principal received written documentation signed by the child's guardian indicating that the child would return to school.

Coverage: The 2020 ACT Catholic Preschool Collection included all primary Catholic schools delivering a preschool program or programs.

Data collection methods: The 2020 ACT Catholic Preschool Collection used a unit record level (URL) data collection methodology for children and service providers.

 

Timeliness

The ACT Catholic Preschool Collection is an annual collection and in 2020 was undertaken on 7 August, with a reference period of 27 July to 7 August 2020. Fortnightly data were converted to a one-week average to enable valid and reliable national comparisons.

Catholic Education compiled, processed and validated the data before submitting it to the ABS on 17 November 2020.
 

Accuracy

In 2020, data were obtained from a point in time sweep of enrolment and attendance data stored in the ACT Catholic School administration system (known as 'MAZE'). Catholic Education carried out validation of 2020 data using data from the MAZE administrative system and through consultation with Catholic Education personnel and service providers. Data from each Catholic school delivering a preschool was assessed by Catholic Education.

Indigenous students are identified at enrolment, through the enrolment form. The information is not mandatory. Data is collected and stored in the MAZE administration system.

Coherence

The 2020 ACT Catholic Preschool Collection was the eighth time Catholic preschool data were included in the NECECC. An analysis of the coherence with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking in to account any data elements that are not consistent with the NECECC standards. There were no deviations between the NECECC standards and data collected in the ACT Catholic Preschool Collection.

Interpretability

In 2020, the majority of data were collected by MAZE sweeps and Human Resources Employment extracts, cross checked with personnel at Catholic Education and Centres. Catholic Education liaised closely with the Director of each centre to verify details.

Accessibility

Data sourced from the ACT Catholic Preschool Collection are published as part of Preschool Education, Australia and Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia on the ABS website.

Information source

The information contained within this report has been provided by the ACT Education Directorate and Catholic Education in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available from the ACT Education Directorate website http://www.det.act.gov.au.

Appendix 4 - State-specific year before full time schooling

Background

In 2016, a new state-specific year before full time schooling (YBFS) definition was developed to better reflect the YBFS concept needed for national reports by government. This state-specific YBFS definition uses the preschool and school age entry provisions of the state or territory in which the child usually resides. This improves on previous definitions by accounting for the differences across Australia in the age at which children are to be enrolled in school.

The state-specific YBFS definition has been created mainly to assist with the Report on Government Services (RoGS) and National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA). The new definition does not change the performance indicators for the current National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education – 2018-2021.

Statistics for the state-specific YBFS definition have been included in Preschool Education, Australia since 2016 and replace the original YBFS definition based statistics published in prior years. The original YBFS definition included all children enrolled and attending a preschool program aged 4 years and only children aged 5 years who had not previously attended a preschool program as a 4 year old.

Calculating state-specific YBFS cohorts

Table A4 shows the state-specific age ranges for children in their year before commencing school. For six jurisdictions, children born over a specified interval of 12 months are included. However, for New South Wales and Victoria the interval is slightly broader with adjustment factors applied to account for the rates at which the youngest children in the interval proceed from preschool to school education in those states.

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A4 State-specific YBFS age cohorts based on months and years of birth
State or TerritoryAge cohorts by month and year of birth
NSWAll children born 2 July 2014 - 31 December 2015 and adjusted counts for children born in the interval 1 January 2016 - 31 July 2016 (56%)
VicAll children born 2 July 2014 - 31 December 2015 and adjusted counts for children born in January 2016 (74%), February 2016 (63%), March 2016 (52%), April 2016 (41%)
Qld, WA, NTAll children born 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016
SA and ACTAll children born 1 May 2015 – 30 April 2016
TasAll children born 1 January 2015 – 31 December 2015

The preschool education statistics for the state-specific YBFS cohorts can be found in Tables 28 to 31 of the datacube in Preschool Education, Australia, 2020. These statistics are presented by the child’s state or territory of usual residence, which aligns with the place of usual residence basis for ABS population estimates and projections.

Population estimates for state-specific YBFS cohorts

Population estimates for the state-specific YBFS cohorts were created to allow reporting of population proportions within RoGS and NIRA with greater accuracy than would otherwise be possible.

The state-specific YBFS population estimates in Table A5 for all children were created by:

  • Distributing each state/territory’s estimated resident population (ERP) for children aged 3 to 6 years across individual months of birth according to birth statistics for the same time interval. The data used in these calculations were sourced from National, state and territory population and Births, Australia.

  • The distributed ERP was then aggregated according to the state-specific YBFS cohort age ranges in each state/territory. The same adjustment factors were applied for NSW and Victoria as highlighted in Table A4.
  • Finally, a deduction was made for the number of children aged 4 and 5 years of age in the state-specific YBFS cohorts that were attending school in each state/territory. This deduction was based on counts reported in Schools, Australia.


For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the same process was used but with population projections from Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians instead of ERP. This is because ERP for 30 June 2020 by single year of age are not currently available for this population.

Download
A5 Population estimates in state-specific YBFS cohorts
 NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders6,8071,3665,3559982,2795881,375156
Non-indigenous(a)106,08987,90860,35719,67333,8285,5582,3165,746
Total112,89589,27465,71220,67136,1076,1463,6915,902

a. Calculated as the total less Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Glossary

Show all

​​​​​​​Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Children are included in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counts if they are identified by a parent or guardian as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Annualised hours enrolled/attending

An estimate of the number of preschool program hours a child may have been enrolled/attending during the calendar year. It is calculated as a child's hours enrolled/attending in the reference week, multiplied by the number of weeks their service provider(s) operated in the calendar year.

Attendance

For the purposes of this publication, a child is considered to be attending a preschool program if the child was enrolled and present for at least one hour during the reference period. Children who did not attend a preschool program during the reference period (e.g. children who were absent due to illness or extended holiday leave) are not considered to have attended a preschool program.

Enrolment

A child is considered to be enrolled if they were offered a place, formally enrolled or registered in the preschool program and:

  • attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, or
  • were absent during the reference period due to illness or extended holiday leave, but were expected to return.


A child is not considered to be enrolled if they were absent during the reference period and not expected to return to the preschool program.

Episode

An episode is the count of the occurrence of a specific characteristic. For example, a preschool 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.

Estimated resident population (ERP)

Estimated Resident Population is the official measure of the population of Australia and is based on the concept of usual residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality, citizenship or legal status, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months. Estimates of the Australian resident population by state and territory are generated on a quarterly basis by adding natural increase (the excess of births over deaths), Net Interstate Migration, and Net Overseas Migration occurring during the period to the population at the beginning of each period. Note that population figures included in this publication are preliminary and based on the 2016 Census. For more information, see the Explanatory Notes section of this publication, National, state and territory population and Regional Population by Age and Sex.

Fees

Fees refer to the actual tuition fees charged for the child to attend a preschool program after subsidies have been deducted.

Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD)

The Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD) used in this release was developed by the ABS and ranks areas in Australia according to most disadvantaged to least disadvantaged using variables from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. A low score on this index indicates a high proportion of relatively disadvantaged people in an area. It cannot be concluded that an area with a very high score has a large proportion of relatively advantaged people, as there are no variables in the index to indicate this.

Indigenous status

See Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Management type

Preschool management type refers to the legal or social entity responsible for managing the delivery of a preschool program. The management type categories include the following:

Government managed

  • State and territory and local government managed: Services that are managed by the state, territory or local government. Excludes state and territory government schools.
  • State and territory government schools: Schools that are funded and managed by the respective state or territory government.

    Non-government managed

    • Private not-for-profit - community managed: Services that are managed by organisations based in the community through a membership made up of community members (e.g. the parents). The membership elects a management committee and the committee is accountable to the membership. No profit is distributed to the management committee or the members, and any surplus funds are redirected to the service.
    • Private not-for-profit - other organisations: Services that are managed by non-profit organisations such as charity organisations, consortium of charity organisations and church groups. Excludes Independent and Catholic schools.
    • Private for-profit: Services provided or managed by a company or private individual.
    • Independent schools: Non-government schools that are governed, managed and accountable at the level of the individual school and are not affiliated with the diocesan Catholic Education Office.
    • Catholic schools: Schools that are affiliated with the diocesan Catholic Education Office.
    • Other: Other services include employer sponsored services.
       

    Preschool program

    A preschool program is a structured, play-based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, 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 and/or privately provided. Preschool programs are often referred to by other terms such as early childhood education, early learning or kindergarten.

    Qualified teacher

    A degree qualified early childhood teacher who meets the requirements of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (the National Quality Framework). The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) publishes a list of approved and former approved early childhood teaching qualifications.

    Remoteness area (RA)

    Remoteness areas divide Australia into broad geographic regions on the basis of their relative access to services. They are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) which measures the remoteness of a point based on the physical road distance to the nearest Urban Centre.

    Sector

    Sector is a classification derived from the service activity type and management type characteristics of service providers.

    Service activity type

    The service activity type is the main type of service available from or provided by a service provider. Service activity types include:

    • Centre based day care (CBDC): A centre based day care service (known as long day care prior to 2 July 2018) is a centre based form of child care service providing all-day or part-time care for children (services may cater to specific groups within the general community). For-profit and not-for profit organisations, local councils, community organisations and employers may run these services. CBDC primarily provides services for children aged 0-5 years. Some centre based day care may also provide early childhood education and kindergarten programs and care for school children before and after school and during school holidays, where state and territory government regulations allow this. The service may operate from stand-alone or shared premises, including those on school grounds.
    • Early childhood education program: Comprises services providing a structured, play-based learning program, aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. The terms most commonly used to describe early education programs which are subject to the National Partnerships Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NP UAECE) in states and territories are:
       
      • Kindergarten – Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania
      • Kindergarten or Preschool – Victoria, South Australia
      • Preschool – New South Wales, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory
         

    Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

    SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2016 Census information. The indexes can be used to explore different aspects of socio-economic conditions by geographic areas. The SEIFA index used in this publication is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD).

    State-specific year before full-time schooling (YBFS)

    The state-specific year before full-time schooling (YBFS) population is made up of an age range of children specific to each state based on that state’s preschool and school starting age provisions.

    Unit record level data collection

    Unit record level data collections contain data for each individual statistical entity in a collection population.

    Quality declaration - summary

    Institutional environment

    Preschool Education, Australia is compiled with data from the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (NECECC). This collection is derived from administrative data provided by state and territory and Australian Government education departments and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

    The impacts to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector from COVID-19, in particular to the services delivering a ‘quality’ education program have not changed the underlying concepts of the data collected in the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (NECECC) for 2020. Jurisdictions were provided with clarifying statements to ensure that enrolment and attendance data in an early childhood education program included online or remote learning, in addition to the usual face-to-face delivery.

    A comprehensive quality declaration for each jurisdiction can be found in Appendix 3 – Jurisdictional data quality statements.

    For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

    Relevance

    This publication is partly conducted to support performance-based reporting for the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education – 2018–2021. It aims to compile child and service provider statistics from all service providers delivering an in-scope preschool program within Australia.

    The National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection population includes:

    • Service providers providing a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year or two before full-time schooling (a preschool program) during the reference period.
    • Children between 3 and 6 years of age (inclusive) at 1 July who were enrolled in a preschool program during the reference period. To be considered enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, (including attended an early childhood education program online or remotely due to COVID-19 impacts), or be absent due to illness or extended holiday leave or due to COVID-19 impacts and expected to return.

    Timeliness

    The National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection has been conducted annually since 2010. The census date for the collection is the first Friday in August each year. Some jurisdictions may adopt a 2 week reference period that needs to include the census week.

    A summary of jurisdictional collection reference periods can be found in Appendix 3 – Jurisdictional data quality statements.

    Accuracy

    Data for the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection have been compiled according to national standards outlined in the Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set in order to maximise consistency of data across the various jurisdictions. Alignment with these standards has not been completely achieved by all jurisdictions, and care should be taken when comparisons across jurisdictions are made. In addition, some jurisdictions were not able to provide the ABS with certain data elements as specified in the national standards.

    Data quality overall is determined by the data submissions. Data issues are described in the Explanatory Notes of this publication, and in Appendix 3 – Jurisdictional data quality statements.

    Further information on the Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set is available on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.

    Coherence

    Due to jurisdictional differences in coverage, collection methodologies and alignment with the Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set standards, the data presented in this iteration of Preschool Education, Australia may not be directly comparable across all jurisdictions or with previous years.

    Differences in the scope and counting rules for the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection mean that the data presented in the publication are not strictly comparable to data published in other national or state/territory publications.

    Interpretability

    National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods contains detailed information on the data sources, terminology and other technical aspects associated with early childhood education and care statistics.

    Accessibility

    If the information you require is not available from either the publication or the data cubes, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.