The Education Standards Board is committed to a contemporary approach to regulating education and early childhood services, to support the best interests of children and young people, their families and our other stakeholders. We value our role in assisting families to access high-quality education and early childhood services. This supports the commitment of the South Australian Government to strive for excellence in every child and young person’s growth and learning and development.
Making a positive difference to the lives of South Australian children and young people by ensuring they have access to high-quality education and early childhood services.
The Education Standards Board will uphold public sector values through its decisions, actions and interactions. In addition, we are committed to our values:
- Honesty and integrity: we are consistent and fair in our actions to encourage openness and transparency
- Professionalism: we have a culture that strives for excellence and aims to improve productivity
- Sustainability: we respond to change and proactively improve
- Collaboration and engagement: we collaborate in our work practices
- Accountability: we make decisions that comply with legislation, are ethical and consistent with approved policies and procedures.
The Board's strategic priorities for 2022-24 support the delivery of the statutory functions under s29 of the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011. These include:
1. Regulate schools, student exchange organisations and early childhood education and care services (services) with a risk- and standards-based approach
- Rate and monitor services for compliance against the National Quality Framework
- Determine applications under the National Quality Framework
- Respond to non-compliance against legislation within the Board's remit
- Regulate student exchange organisations
- Register and review registration of schools
2. Positively engage with stakeholders
- Influence legislation and policy for education and early childhood programs and services
- Provide advice and guidance to early childhood providers and services and schools to support compliance
3. Support our people and improve our business
- Continually improve our practice
- Protect and promote the welfare, health and safety of our team
- Demonstrate a commitment to reconciliation
The Education Standards Board provides an annual report to the Minister for Education, Training and Skills each year under s279 of the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Stanards) Act 2011. This report is tabled in the South Australian Parliament and made available to the public (s280 the Act).
Education Standards Board 2021-22 Annual Report (pdf)
View 2021-22 Annual Report online
Publishing regulatory data provides transparency around the Education Standards Board's work and encourages voluntary compliance and improved service quality by regulated parties (approved providers, education and care services and educators). Regulatory data is also published in our annual report, and includes schools and international education.
Early childhood sector performance 2021-22
Unless otherwise stated the figures provided below relate to South Australian education and care services regulated under the National Quality Framework.
National Quality Framework Providers
On 30 June 2022 there were 426 approved providers, a minor decrease from 430 approved providers in 2020-21. Eighty-five percent (363) providers operate a single service.
In SA, 39% of approved providers are government operated, compared to 11% of state/territory and local government providers nationally.
Approved early childhood education and care services
There are 1252 NQF approved services in SA at 30 June 2022, an increase of 2% compared to the previous year. The increase included 16 long day care, one preschool and eight out of school hours care newly approved services.
There are 117 residual services regulated under state legislation that are outside the scope of the NQF. Of these, 93 (83%) are provided by the South Australian Department of Education.
Residual service type
Number of services
As at June 30 2022, 96% of services have a quality rating, compared to 90% nationally. There are 465 services rated under the 2018 National Quality Standards and 740 currently rated under the 2012 National Quality Standards. Forty-six services are approved and not yet rated as they are within the first 12 months of operation.
South Australia has 13.5% of services rated ‘Working Towards’, compared to 12.5% nationally. The number of services rated Meeting or higher has steadily increased year on year over the past four years.
Quality ratings of services by year at June 30 2022
Proportion of quality ratings by service type compared to national average at 30 June 2022
Long day care
Outside school hours care
*Exceeding also includes services rated as Excellent
Total applications received in 2021-22
All applications are assessed fairly, consistently and efficiently in accordance with our risk-based approach to early childhood regulation. This helps safeguard and preserve a high level of compliance in the early childhood sector.
Amend service approval
Out of scope applications*
Transfer of service approval
Voluntary suspension of service approval
Amend provider approval
Review of ratings by the regulatory authority
*Out of scope applications include applications from residual services under Schedule 2 of the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011, which fall outside the scope of the National Law.
Approved providers can apply for a waiver of an element of the requirements of the Law or Regulations. Once approved, waivers allow services to continue to provide compliant education and care while dealing with special circumstances or unexpected events. Most waiver applications are for temporary waivers, where the issue can be addressed within 12 months. At 30 June 2022, 9% of services in SA had a temporary waiver in force.
Proportion of services with a waiver in force at 30 June 2022
Proportion of services with a waiver in force by service type at 30 June 2022
Long day care
Outside school hours care
Family day care
Notifications and complaints
Services are required by the National Law and Regulations to notify the Board of incidents and complaints from caregivers, educators, members of the public and external organisations.
Where reporting indicates an unacceptable risk to children’s health, safety and wellbeing, the Board takes action to respond to that risk and bring service back to compliance.
Notifications in 2021-22
In 2021-22 the Board received 4884 incident notifications, compared to 2369 in the previous reporting period. This high number of notifications includes non-regulatory notifications related to COVID-19. The majority of notifications lodged require no further action as the notification does not reflect concerns or risk to children’s health, safety and wellbeing.
Incident notifications received by the Board in 2021-22
No further action required
Serious incidents are a subset of incidents and include an injury or illness where a child does or ought to seek medical attention, when children are missing or unaccounted for, locked in or out of the service or removed from the service without authorisation.
Serious incident notifications received by the Board in 2021-22
No further action required
Complaints received in 2021-22
Direct to Education Standards Board
Notified by service
Long day care
Out of school hours care
Family day care
The Board received 518 complaints, a decrease from 550 complaints received in 2020-21. A complaint can be raised both directly to the Board and at the service.
Monitoring and enforcement
Regulated parties are willing and able to comply most of the time. When a regulated party is found to be unwilling or unable to comply with their regulated obligations, voluntarily or with reasonable assistance, the board uses regulatory tools to direct or enforce compliance.
Top five breaches of the National Law and Regulations 2021-22
National Law and Regulations breached*
Number of breaches
s165 A nominated supervisor must ensure all children are adequately supervised at all times when children are in the care of the service.
s174 Offence to fail to notify certain information to the Regulatory Authority – notification of serious incidents and complaints
r79 Service providing food and beverages
r90 Medical conditions policy
r97 Emergency and evacuation procedures
Breaches of the National Law were addressed through 154 caution letters and 21 statutory compliance actions.
Statutory compliance actions issued by type and year
Statutory compliance action
Emergency action notice
Direction to exclude inappropriate persons
Show cause for prohibition notice
* Notified under regulation 175(2)(c) of the National Law: ‘any circumstance arising at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of children’. The Guide to the National Quality Framework lists ‘outbreak of an infectious disease’ as an example of such a circumstance. In South Australia we follow the SA Health advice regarding notifiable infections and only expect services to notify the Board of an outbreak if they have a requirement to notify SA Health.