Canberra childcare centres are falling behind the rest of the nation with more than 70 per cent failing to meet Australian quality benchmarks.
Nationally 44 per cent of centres have been rated as ‘‘working towards’’ the new standards but in the ACT 35 of the 51 centres assessed failed to meet at least one of seven criteria.
The Sunday Canberra Times checked the report cards for individual childcare services in the ACT after the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) published the first inspection results on Wednesday.
ACECQA assessed 1620 childcare services nationally - 13 per cent of the total. In the ACT there are 306 centres and 51 were assessed over seven areas - education program and practices; health and safety; physical environment; staffing; relationships with children; partnerships with families and communities; and leadership and service management.
Of the assessed centres 35 received a ''working towards'' overall rating , 10 met the criteria and six exceeded the criteria. In Victoria 70 per cent of the services either met or exceeded the expected standard. In NSW 41 per cent of 490 services made the grade. In Queensland, it was 62 per cent.
But minister for children and education Joy Burch said Canberra parents were getting quality childcare.
''Families in our community should not see a working towards rating and have any doubt of the quality of care being received by kids,'' Ms Burch said.
''The rating system is a new rating system and the bar has been set very high.''
But opposition leader Jeremy Hanson said the results were concerning.
''Given the volume of government regulation and red tape imposed on ACT childcare centres, this indicates that the opposition's concerns that those regulations would not improve the sector appear to be verified,'' Mr Hanson said.
''Particularly when the ACT has the highest costs for childcare centres in Australia.''
Ms Burch said a working towards rating did not mean the centre was bad, rather it helped the centre identify areas it needed to build on.
''I would have expected … that a jump to such a new high standard, some of our services would not automatically meet, where their previous assessment would have given them a high score,'' she said.
''I'm not saying there is no work to do, I'm saying the process needs to settle down … you will jump to a very wrong conclusion if you say our services are not providing quality care.''
Harrison preschoolers to benefit from excellence
The preschool at Harrison School was one of only six ACT childcare centres rated as exceeding the new Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority standards.
Students Yin Ming Li and Bryn Begley are not surprised. They think it's the best school in the whole world.
Bryn, 5, likes the school's outdoor play area and his classmate Yin, 5, likes drawing.
The preschool received four exceeding ratings across the seven assessment areas.
These were education program and practices, health and safety, the physical environment, staffing, relationships with children, partnerships with families and communities, and leadership and service management.
But principal Dennis Yarrington said there was still room for improvement.
''The standards are about lifting standards and ensuring that the quality programs offered [here] are consistently offered across the country,'' Mr Yarrington said.