ACECQA Newsletter Issue 9 2015

Benefits of higher educator to child ratios 

1 January 2016 marks the next national consistency milestone for educator to child ratios. While changes to ratios have been planned since the introduction of the National Quality Framework in 2012, the coming months are an important time for educators and providers to check if they are affected, and prepare for any changes. 
 
This month, ACECQA’s We Hear You blog hears from Linda Davison, Coordinator at Clarendon Children’s Centre Co-operative in Melbourne, on the benefits of higher ratios for children and educators. For more information on the 1 January 2016 ratio changes in your state and territory, visit ACECQA’s ratio page

ACE your approach to assessment and rating

Any assessment and rating process can be daunting.  You might like to consider the following three things when preparing for your service’s assessment and rating visit - Authenticity, Collaboration and Empowerment. 

Authenticity 

The authorised officer will be looking for examples of typical, authentic practice embedded in your service. This is your opportunity to showcase your strengths, so think about what you would like the authorised officer to observe, discuss and sight while at your service. Try to make sure that your practice and routines on the day of the visit accurately represent the philosophy of your service. Above all - try to be yourself.

Collaboration

It is important to involve children, educators, management, families and other key stakeholders in identifying and prioritising strategies and goals for improvement. Undertaking a thorough, honest and critically reflective self-assessment, typically captured in your Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), should help ensure that there are no surprises during the assessment and rating visit. Having respectful conversations about how your practices have evolved to support quality outcomes for children will also help demonstrate your commitment to critical reflection and continuous improvement.

Empowerment

During the assessment and rating process, it’s important for educators to feel empowered to share their practices with the authorised officer. This begins with careful preparation – have a look at the resources on ACECQA’s website to make sure you know the contents of the NQS. Then have a look at your practices. Why do you do what you do? How do your practices align with the NQS? On the day of the visit, be proactive. This is your opportunity to share your practices with the authorised officer. Describe how your practice meets the Standard in a way that is relevant to your children, families and community. 
 
Jill Clennett, an authorised officer working in Tasmania, thinks creating an environment of authenticity can reduce anxiety for educators and help the authorised officer with their observations.
 
‘It makes such a difference when the educators go about their day as normal,’ said Jill. ‘It ensures the assessment and rating integrates into the flow of the program and aids our observations.  
 
‘Collaboration can also help reduce educators’ stress. Supporting one another and ensuring everyone is engaged in the critical reflection process helps enormously'.
  
For information on the assessment and rating process and resources available, download the assessment and rating information sheet or visit the ACECQA website.

Out with the old – transitional regulations ending 31 December 2015

From 1 January 2016, a number of transitional regulations will no longer apply. These provisions have been in place to give providers time to meet the requirements. 
 
For example, the transitional provision that allows an educator who was continuously employed for 15 years or longer to be counted as a certificate III educator ends on 31 December 2015, except for services in remote or very remote areas, where it will continue to apply until 1 January 2018 (regulation 240).
 
Other transitional regulations set to expire include:
  • Regulation 250 – Declared approved family day care services (fencing requirement, for the purpose of quality assessment and rating) 
  • Regulation 251 – Declared out of scope services (requirements for fencing, outdoor space and premises designed to facilitate supervision, for the purpose of quality assessment and rating)
  • Regulation 254 – Declared approved learning frameworks (ACT) 
  • Regulation 336 – Family day care educators (SA) (FDC educator qualifications)
For details of each regulation, visit the Education and Care Services National Regulations. If you have questions about the requirements contact our Enquiries team.

ACT National Workshop

Registrations are now open for the ACT National Workshop being held in Canberra on Thursday 22 October. The workshop will focus on building cultural awareness in your service, with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
 
This is the second workshop series led by ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, in partnership with local Professional Support Coordinators and regulatory authority staff.  
 
The 2.5 hour workshop will provide educators with a greater understanding of what cultural competence is, what embedding culturally inclusive practice looks like, ideas on how to plan and reflect on inclusive practice, and what all of this means for practice in your service. The workshop is designed for those who are beginning their journey around cultural competence and may be suitable for educational leaders, team leaders and educators.  
 
Click here to register to attend. Places for this workshop are limited so you are encouraged to register early.

Role of dispositions when a child transitions to school 

The very mention of a child transitioning to school can cause excitement and apprehension. Times of change can be stressful for families, as they question whether they and their child are ready to make this change and if their child will be well supported throughout the transition process.
 
In this article, the first in a series on transitions, we identify the characteristics, or dispositions, children develop that support them as they transition to school.  The Early Years Learning Framework (page 10) describes dispositions as ‘enduring habits of mind and actions, and tendencies to respond in characteristic ways to situations, for example, maintaining an optimistic outlook, being willing to persevere, approaching new experiences with confidence’.
 
The dispositions we nurture in children contribute to their life-long learning toolkit and help children to succeed at school. In the Early Childhood Australia publication, The Early Years Learning Framework: Building confident learners, Leonie Arthur identifies the following positive dispositions for learning:
 
Dispositions support children to adjust to the school environment and develop new relationships. The ability to make meaning by applying what they already know will support children to develop their own learning strategies and successfully transition to school. 

What to consider if your service has volunteers or students on placement

If a volunteer or student on practicum placement holds or is actively working towards at least an approved certificate III level qualification, then they may be included in educator to child ratios. There are, however, several factors to consider in deciding how best to involve volunteers and students on placement at the service.
 
The approved provider and nominated supervisor are responsible for ensuring children are adequately supervised at all times and that they are protected from harm or hazard. Ratios are a part of ensuring effective staffing arrangements, but ensuring children are adequately supervised also involves considering each educator’s experience, knowledge and skills, as well as their knowledge of children at the service. It is also important to remember that volunteers and students may need to be supervised and supported to engage appropriately with children in a way that supports learning and development and to ensure their practices align with service policies and procedures and the relevant learning framework.
 
A new FAQ about the participation of students and volunteers at a service is now available on the ACECQA website