Woolcott Research & Engagement has published a Summary of Findings of the National Quality Framework stakeholder consultation sessions held in all the States and Territories earlier this year.
The consultations revealed overwhelming support for the creation of the NQF, and a strong desire for it to be rolled out on its current timeframe. Participants in the sessions identified the introduction of the NQF as strongly benefiting children, as well as reducing administrative burden in many areas.
This puts the sector at odds with the Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley, who has consistently portrayed services and educators as “overwhelmed” by the regulatory burden of the “messy” NQF.
Woolcott’s research suggests that the Assistant Minister has been listening to vocal minority in the sector who are unhappy with the NQF: for-profit organisations and advocates. These organisations have a clear profit-based motive in winding back many of the NQF requirements, and it is now clear that they are not in any way representative of how most educators and services actually view the NQF.
The results of the consultation come at a crucial time for the sector. The NQF Review is still underway, and the Productivity Commission will shortly be handing its final report to the Federal Government. The reforms that resulted in the NQF took years to design and are barely half-implemented. For a Government that has tied itself into an economic tangle, curtailing or even removing the NQF would be a tempting way to reduce costs.
This would be a disastrous outcome for Australia’s children.
The sector has demonstrated clearly in a number of forums that it is supportive of the overall aims and goals of the NQF. It now needs to join together and ensure that the Federal Government cannot ignore this consensus, and let the aims of a few profit-seeking organisations to undo a world-class early education policy initiative.