Exceeding NQS Theme 1 – Practice is embedded in service operations

Rated Exceeding NQS

Welcome back to our blog series of articles written to support you, your team and your service to understand and work towards Exceeding NQS. In our first article, we looked at where to start on your journey and the Exceeding NQS resources available to support you in this. 

For the next three parts of the blog series, we will be looking at each of the Exceeding NQS themes commencing with Theme 1 - Practice is embedded in service operations

Let’s look to the theme title itself - What is embedded in service operations? 

At the Exceeding NQS level, when practice is ‘embedded’ this means the high quality identified practice is the usual practice demonstrated by the service for the Standard. These high quality practices would then be seen as embedded in service operations when they occur consistently and intentionally as part of the ongoing processes of the service. These high quality practices should be understood and implemented by all educators as appropriate for their role and responsibilities. Embedded practice has a clear intent that reflects a deep understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘how.’  

Depending on the quality area and the high quality practice itself, this may be evident in service routines, relationships, program, and planning. It may also be evident in interactions between educators, service leadership structure, children, families and the community. 

What is observed, discussed and/or sighted should also align with the service’s philosophy, the principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s, and the service’s policies and procedures that relate specifically to the Standard. 

When it is identified that a high quality practice exists, how does the Authorised Officer determine if they are embedded in service operations at an Exceeding NQS level? 

Authorised officers will use a variety of strategies to gather evidence for all service practices during a visit. They may be able to observe the high quality practices in action and may also speak to the service team as well as the educational leader and nominated supervisor. This would determine if the high quality practices are ongoing and are understood and implemented by all educators. 

Authorised Officers may also need to seek documentary evidence reflective of the practice that has been identified and the specific service context. 

Additionally, authorised officers will refer to the questions in the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) to assist in determining if the specific practice(s) are truly embedded. 
To further support your service in understanding embedded practice at an Exceeding NQS level for each Standard, you may wish to consider:

  • Are we demonstrating a practice that is above and beyond meeting for this Standard? 
  • Does this high quality practice relate to the intent of the whole Standard (the Guide to the NQF provides an overview of the intent and Exceeding guidance for each Standard)  
  • Are all staff demonstrating this practice or is it a few key staff that implement this high quality practice and can explain the why behind their practice? 
  • If key staff were to be absent or leave the service, would the high quality practices continue? 
  • Do all staff understand how the importance of the high quality practice and how it supports the Standard? 
  • Are high quality practices for this Standard evident, where relevant, across various aspects of service operations? 
    • Can you “see” it in practice through observations? 
    • Can educators and the leadership team articulate practices and their importance? 
    • Have you included the high quality practice within any service documentation that supports educators to embed the high quality practice?

When the whole team embeds high quality practices with a shared understanding, purpose and agency. Embedded practice creates a consistently high quality education and care environment that benefits children, families, and the broader service community. 

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