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The early years affect the later years so let's aim high

By Susan Irvine - posted Thursday, 16 May 2013

Imagine a world where every Queensland child has access to high quality early education and care, and starts school with skill and confidence.

Makes sense right? Australian and overseas research shows that children who participate in high quality early education and care perform better in education and employment. They are less likely to drop out of school or make poor choices bringing them in contact with police, courts and health services.

Commonwealth and state governments have recognised this and agreed to the National Quality Framework (NQF) for education and care services in2009. Under the NQF, more educators, enhanced qualifications, higher educator-to-child ratios and improved health and safety measures are being phased in from 2012 to 2020. There is a new National Quality Standard and rating system based on seven areas of childhood development.


The first new ratings were published on the My Child website on 1 May 2013 and these are giving clear information to families so they can choose the best service for their child.

This all sounds sensible, you may be thinking, so what is the problem? Some education and care operators, politicians and media coverage of the NQF are taking a highly negative slant on the new quality standards. Some politicians are arguing against the NQF in favour of the old minimum standards ('let's aim low'), while some education and care operators warn of increased costs and reduced places. This is Henny Penny talk.

Federal Government modelling shows the reforms will cost a few dollars a day per child which is mostly covered by rebates and assistance. There is a huge body of international research that shows every dollar invested in quality child care pays a dividend of $7 to $20 that doesn't have to be spent later in welfare, jails and hospitals.

In Queensland, around a quarter of a million children are enrolled in two and a half thousand education and care services.

Around 300 services were assessed in Queensland last year and overall, the state got a good report card.

Over two thirds of education and care services assessed were rated as 'Meeting' or 'Exceeding' the NQF standards while less than a third were rated as 'Working Towards' the new quality standards. No Queensland services were rated as 'Requiring Significant Improvement'.


Although 37 per cent of Queensland child care services were rated as 'Working Towards' the new standards, this compares to a national average of 44 per cent. The fact is that 'Working Towards' reflects an increased expectation in the quality, and the education and care service is on their way to quality delivery.

The Queensland Children's Services Alliance (QCSA),an independent alliance of organisations and agencies reflecting the diversity of children's services, is proud of the Queensland education and care sector.

The QCSA believes the implementation of the NQF in Queensland has been a largely positive experience for education and child care services and our members are positive about it.

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About the Author

Dr Susan Irvine is a senior lecturer in the School of Early Childhood, Faculty of Education, QUT.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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