Ministers agree on changes to support NQF implementation
Amendments to the National Regulations to support the implementation of the National Quality Framework were agreed to by all state and territory ministers and the Australian Government today. Ministers also discussed actions to streamline the quality rating process.
Changes to streamline assessment and rating are being rolled out immediately and are explained in the articles below.
Regulation amendments around staffing arrangements, the physical environment of early childhood services and transitional provisions to deal with workforce shortages for early childhood teachers in remote and very remote areas were agreed to. Ministers asked that work continue to finalise the more complex amendments to the National Law and Regulations to reduce regulatory burden on the sector.
Further information about the regulation amendments will be provided once the details are final.
View the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) Communiqué here.
More flexible timeframes for assessment and rating
More flexible timeframes for assessment and rating visits have been introduced to reduce the time a service has to wait between the start of the assessment process and finding out their quality rating.
This recognises that the National Quality Framework is no longer brand new so services have had time to gain a greater understanding of the assessment and rating process. All services should also have a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) in place.
Services will still have adequate time to update their QIP and prepare for a visit, while providing regulatory authorities with more flexibility around scheduling assessment and rating visits.
The Guide to assessment and rating for services provides an updated timeline for services on the assessment and rating process.
New and updated resources for your assessment and rating
ACECQA has new resources and updated existing ones to simplify the assessment and rating process for services and regulatory authorities.
The process for finalising a draft assessment report has been sped up for providers who do not wish to give feedback. If a provider does not give any feedback within 10 working days after receiving the draft report, the report automatically becomes final.
As well, a template for feedback about the draft report and an assessment and rating report information sheet will help approved providers give feedback. The template makes it easier to provide supporting evidence for the regulatory authority to consider.
The assessment and rating report template
A new, nationally consistent assessment and rating report template presents information about service quality in a streamlined and user friendly format. The new template will help regulatory authorities produce reports more quickly, while maintaining the value and consistency of each report.
For easy reference, a summary at the end gives the ratings for all seven quality areas, including additional comments about the overall quality of the service.
To help services improve quality, the report also includes a summary of any notes about the Quality Improvement Plan and compliance issues.
What to expect from your assessment and rating visit
Quality assessment and rating is an opportunity for your service to gain valuable feedback and ensure families have access to comparative information about their children’s education and care. The following guidelines outline the process from start to finish.
Notice of your visit and your Quality Improvement Plan
A service will be selected for assessment and rating and notified of the four week period in which their service visit will occur. The regulatory authority will also ask the approved provider to submit their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) within three weeks. This gives approved providers an opportunity to ensure the QIP for the service is up to date. The regulatory authority will give the approved provider a minimum of five working days’ notice of the visit date.
In preparation for the assessment visit, the regulatory authority will review all the available information about the service, including the compliance and if relevant, accreditation history.
An authorised officer, or officers, will undertake the assessment visit during the organised time and follow a nationally consistent process to gather evidence and assess and rate the service.
The number of authorised officers conducting an assessment visit will depend on the size and location of the service, the type of service, number of educators, safety issues and the level of expertise of the authorised officer. For more information on preparing for the visit see the Guide to assessment and rating for services.
The authorised officer(s) will observe the day-to-day program and practice, including interactions between children, families and educators, talk with staff members, and look at samples of documentation.
For more information, see the National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating Instrument.
Post visit – your draft report and final report
Following the assessment and rating visit, the provider will be sent a draft assessment and rating report, and have the opportunity to provide comment within 10 working days to the regulatory authority. If no feedback is received the report is considered final. If feedback is received the regulatory authority will consider this before issuing a final report to the approved provider.
The assessment and rating information sheet provides a brief overview of the assessment and rating process. For detailed information about the process visit the ACECQA website, our FAQs and Mythbusters pages.