ACECQA Newsletter Issue 1 2015

Hot topic: Authorised officers  

There is keen interest in the role of authorised officers and the assessment and rating process. We discuss authorised officer roles and responsibilities with Perry Campbell, Manager Consistency and Review at ACECQA.

“One of ACECQA’s functions is to provide support and training for staff of regulatory authorities,” said Perry.

“I work on the delivery of national training to authorised officers from all states and territories. This has given me the opportunity to see how committed authorised officers are to supporting quality education and care.
 
“The assessment and rating process is about enabling services to share their quality education and care journey.
 
“It’s the authorised officer’s role to gather information and evidence about how a service is meeting the NQS.
 
“We know that each service is unique. The way in which standards and elements are met will be influenced by a service’s philosophy, environment and the needs of the children, families and community engaged with the service.
 
 “That’s why authorised officers are trained to consider each service’s uniqueness right from the start of the process, even before the assessment and rating visit.
 
“They do this by reviewing service history, context and available information as well as the service’s Quality Improvement Plan.
 
“Authorised officers are trained to use three main techniques to gather supporting evidence to be used in considering the service rating against the NQS. The three main techniques used are ‘observation’, ‘discussion’ and ‘sighting of documentation’. 
 
“Authorised officers will use a combination of these techniques depending on which quality area, standard or element they are gathering supporting evidence against. 
 
“Remember, authorised officers will not make a decision on rating until they’ve captured everything they need and returned to the office to consider supporting evidence and information.”
 
Perry said a range of skills, experience and qualifications were required to perform the tasks of an authorised officer.
 
“The national training authorised officers complete covers everything from the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the NQF, assessment and rating fundamentals and processes, through to the strategies developed to support national consistency in assessment and rating. 
 
“The training culminates in reliability testing that must be passed before an authorised officer can start undertaking assessment and rating visits. A form of this testing is then repeated every year for each authorised officer.”
 
For more information on the assessment and rating process visit the ACECQA website, refer to the NQF Mythbusters and download the Guide to Assessment and Rating for Services resource.

Educator qualifications

Are you currently studying early childhood education and care, or seeking a qualification to equip you to work in an education and care service?

Over the past few months, ACECQA has received a number of enquires relating to educator qualifications. We’ve summarised some useful information to help you get the most out of your training.

Choosing a registered training organisation

When choosing a registered training organisation (RTO), make sure you review the ACECQA list of approved qualifications to ensure the qualification you wish to study is recognised under the NQF. 

To find a RTO that is right for you, we recommend you visit the MySkills website. Keep an eye out for organisations that specialise in early childhood qualifications. You may also take the opportunity to ask your prospective RTO about the relationships that they have with local services.

Online courses

Considering enrolling in an online course? Before you choose your course read up on admission and enrolment advice provided by the consumer group Choice. 

Making a complaint

Having a problem with your training provider? If you’re unhappy with the service they’re providing, the first thing to do is talk to your trainer or their manager. Often problems are the result of simple miscommunication and your trainer will resolve the problem with you informally.
 
If you are still dissatisfied with your training, or believe that they are not meeting the requirements of your training, you can make a formal complaint to the Australian Skills Quality Authority. You can do this by completing the online complaints form or by contacting the National VET Complaints Hotline

Recognising on-the-job experience

Do you have on-the-job experience but not the qualification? Your experience is valuable and may contribute towards Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Should you choose to pursue study, your experience might earn credits towards part, or all of an approved qualification.

Contact a RTO to see what options are available to you. Alternatively download the Australian Government’s Recognition of Prior Learning Initiative (PDF) for a list of accredited assessors who specialise in RPL for the early childhood education and care sector. 


Who do I ask? 

There are a number of agencies involved in administering the NQF and it’s not always obvious which agency to contact for your specific enquiry. We’ve broken down the roles and responsibilities of each agency to ensure the right questions are directed to the right body.

Contact ACECQA if you would like to:

  • check qualifications
  • have qualifications assessed for equivalence
  • apply for a second tier review; clarification on legislative requirements
  • apply for an Excellent rating
  • use the NQA IT System to submit application and notification forms. 

Contact your regulatory authority:

  • if you have a compliance issue or complaint about a service
  • for issues relating to service and provider approvals
  • for information about the assessment and rating schedule in your area
  • to apply for a first tier review
  • to follow up on notification or application forms
  • if your service has not received a copy of your service supervisor certificate
  • if you would like to discuss State Government funding availability.

Contact the Professional Support Coordinators (PSC) in your state:

  • if you would like support in understanding and meeting the NQS
  • if you would like support implementing approved learning frameworks
  • for professional development information
  • for information about available resources. 

When would you contact the Inclusion Support Agencies (ISA)?

Contact an ISA if you would like assistance to facilitate the inclusion of children in your service. The target groups for inclusion support are children with disability, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children from a refugee background and Indigenous children. ISAs operate within 67 regions across Australia. Find the contact details for the ISA in your region.

When would you contact the Indigenous Professional Support Unit (IPSU) in your region?
 
Contact the IPSU in your state if you are from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children Service and require support implementing the NQS.
 
If you’re unsure who to ask, you may find our ‘Who do I ask?’ Information sheet useful. Alternatively you can contact the ACECQA enquiries team on 1300 422 327 or email enquiries@acecqa.gov.au

 


Plan your adventure

Incursions and excursions can be an exciting way to give children a sense of the world and encourage team work and inquisitive thinking. If you are incorporating incursions and excursions into your program for 2015, consider these handy tips to start your planning.

Check your regulations

Make sure you consult the National Law and Regulations before you start any planning. Remember, the same minimum educator to child ratios apply for an incursion and excursion, but you may need more staff to support you on the day to ensure children are adequately supervised at all times. 

Ideas

Be as creative as you can. Use this as an opportunity to involve your team, children and families in coming up with ideas. For example, you might like to invite interesting external educators or a family member with an unusual occupation to visit your service. 

Identify the risk

Once you’ve selected your idea, it is important to assess the risk involved. The National Regulations require a risk assessment to be completed before going on an excursion (regulations 100-1). Check out ACECQA’s handy Template Excursion Risk Plan for more information.
 
It is also important to consider any possible hazards and children’s safety and wellbeing when planning any incursions.

Service health check

The start of a new year is a good time to conduct a service health check, including reviewing policies and procedures.
 
It may also be timely to update children’s enrolment records, as children and staff are returning from holidays, new families are joining services and children are transitioning between groups/rooms. 
 
While the regulations do not specify how often these records should be updated, the approved provider must take reasonable steps to ensure children’s enrolment forms are accurate (regulation 177). This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring the correct contact details are held for each parent, any medical conditions or allergies are listed, and the immunisation status of the child is correct.
 
 A full list of required information to be kept in a child’s enrolment record is set out in regulation 160 of the National Regulations

Promoting your service's quality rating 

Have you recently received a quality rating under the NQF and want to share your rating with your families and local community? ACECQA has developed media release templates and a how-to guide to help you promote your service’s rating.

The media release templates have been designed specifically for services who have achieved a rating of Working Towards, Meeting and Exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS). All you need to do is fill in the blanks with information about your service. Our sample media release shows how you can use the templates to promote your service’s rating.
 
The how-to guide provides information on contacting local media, what to think about when arranging a media event or photo opportunity, and some general hints and tips on what to include in your media release.
 
ACECQA has also created a ratings chart to help explain your service’s rating. Once your service has been assessed and rated against the NQS, it is mandatory to display your rating certificate on site. The placement of your rating must be clearly visible from the entrance of the service premises. For family day care services, this includes displaying the rating at all residences, venues and offices.
 
Our ratings chart is an extra tool you can display or use in communicating with your families and community. You can download your service’s ratings chart by clicking the icon below the NQS rating for your service on the national register
 

2015 National Workshop dates 

ACECQA, in partnership with local Professional Support Co-ordinators and regulatory authority staff, will visit Western Australia in late February, and Victoria and South Australia in March, continuing the national workshop tour.
 
Registrations are open for Western Australia and Victoria so visit our Events page for the dates and session times, and keep an eye out for upcoming dates for South Australia, NSW and Queensland.
 
The workshops support services in Quality Area 1 and are open to all educators and providers, especially those rated as Working Towards National Quality Standard or those not yet rated.
 

Service statement of philosophy

Every new year in education and care services brings with it opportunities for new beginnings, renewed aspirations and the welcoming of families and children to the service community. 
 
At this time, new families will learn about the service’s beliefs and values through its statement of philosophy.  This offers a great opportunity to reflect on what you, as a team, believe is important and revise the philosophy so it provides a sound foundation for practice.1

What is a statement of philosophy and why is it important? 

The Education and Care Services National Regulations require the service philosophy be included in the service’s Quality Improvement Plan (regulation 55). The philosophy is also considered at element 7.2.1 of the National Quality Standard, which outlines that the service’s philosophy should guide all aspects of the service’s operations. 
 
A written statement of philosophy is core to a service’s operation; it represents the values, beliefs and understandings of the service's community and directs the everyday practice of educators and staff. A thoughtful philosophy offers a guide to build shared understanding and inform service decisions, policies and daily practices. It also provides a foundation for the planning, implementing and evaluating of quality experiences for children.
 

 

Why is it important to review the service philosophy and where should you start? 

There are a number of useful resources that offer advice on revising philosophies, including the Early Childhood Australia newsletter article entitled Revising the Service Philosophy.
 
The Guide to the National Quality Standard (p.175) identifies that the service philosophy should reflect the principles of the Education and Care Service National Law and the approved learning frameworks relevant to the service. So a good starting point is to review the philosophy to ensure it aligns with these principles.
 

Principles of the Education and Care Services National Law:

  • the rights and best interests of the child are paramount
  • children are successful, competent and capable learners
  • the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity underlie this Law
  • Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued
  • the role of parents and families is respected and supported
  • best practice is expected in the provision of education and care services.

Principles of the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care:

  • secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
  • partnerships
  • high expectations and equity
  • respect for diversity
  • ongoing learning and reflective practice. 

The practices, learning outcomes and reflective questions in the approved learning frameworks are also helpful prompts for reflection, as is identifying the theories of children’s learning and development that inform your practice. The Early Years Learning Framework (p.11) provides useful information about the theories that inform practice.

Who should be involved? 

It is important the philosophy reflects the values of stakeholders including children, families, educators and staff, management and the community. We know from research that collaborative approaches improve responsiveness and effectiveness. For example, when stakeholders are involved in the process they will more clearly understand the philosophy’s purpose and its importance in guiding practice. In recognition of this, NQS Element 6.1.2 is about the opportunities families have to contribute to service decisions, which could include the statement of philosophy.

Active communication, including discussion of differing views, will help build a shared vision, values and commitment to promote quality outcomes for children through the philosophy.

Helpful resources

There are many resources available to help with this, including:

1. [Barnes, H (2012). 'Revising the service Philosophy' Early Childhood Australia NQS PLP, Newsleter No. 28, pp. 1]