ACECQA Newsletter Issue 10 2022

CEO foreword

Hopefully, it comes as no surprise that Australian governments, approved providers, peak bodies, associations and higher learning institutions are taking action to address early childhood teacher and educator workforce shortages through the National Children's Education and Care Workforce Strategy with a focus on attraction to the profession, strategies to retain current teachers and educators, and supporting professional status and wellbeing. 

These actions are critical because children’s healthy functioning, sense of belonging, safety and development of skills rest on the fundamental prerequisite of a consistent and close relationship with their teacher/educator in the early years and in after school hours care (Baadstu, Wang and Brandistuen, 2021). The quality of early education and care starts with positive teacher/educator-child relationships. High quality services understand that it takes consistent interaction to establish trust and understanding of the family context and the child’s interests and needs, and it takes professional expertise to build upon this information with programs and practices that result in optimal education and development.  

Our newsletter acknowledges your vital role and our articles are selected to support your ongoing professional learnings and practice. This month, we touch on the responsibilities of providers and their services to ensure that they meet their obligations in facilitating the rights of all children seeking to enrol and participate in early childhood education and care.  

We also provide the link to changes being made to the National Quality Framework from mid 2023 to help you stay up to date with the latest developments. 

This month, we share inspiring stories of the amazing quality practices occurring in our children's education and care services. 

More than 40% of all approved services are registered to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This engagement and commitment of our leaders, teachers and educators to reconciliation planning and action is encouraging. It supports Australian children and young people to know, understand and value the history and context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the story of the land on which they live (Barblett et al., 2017; Jackson-Barrett & Lee-Hammond, 2018; Miller, 2011). 

The story of exceptional practice by Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley is also inspiring. In considering their application for the Excellent rating, we were particularly impressed with the service’s commitment to their teachers and educators in supporting the development of their leadership skills and enabling professional development programs targeted to each team member’s needs and interests. 

Finally, we have included articles on the importance of play-based learning and the key role Transition Statements have in children’s continuity of learning as they move into their compulsory school years. 

There are many more articles that provide detailed information when you have time to read and reflect. As always, please share with your colleagues and families if you find an article that particularly interests you.

Gabrielle Sinclair

ACECQA CEO


Inclusion – What do education and care providers and services need to know?

Under the National Quality Framework, the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity underpin the policies, programs and practices of approved education and care services. Further, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) enshrines in law the rights of children with disabilities to participate in Australian’s education and care system without discrimination or disadvantage. For example, children with additional needs cannot be denied enrolment into any education and care service on the basis of those needs. 

In last month’s newsletter, we provided an overview of the new suite of DDA resources available on our website to support approved providers, nominated supervisors, educators, coordinators and all service staff to understand and implement their obligations under the DDA. 

The information sheet, What do children’s education and care services need to know? supports approved providers to understand their obligations under the DDA including making reasonable adjustments to support access and participation for all children. It also explains direct and indirect discrimination and potential implications of not complying with the DDA.


Changes to the NQF on course for mid-2023

Earlier this year, Australian, state and territory Education Ministers agreed to some changes to the NQF based on findings from the 2019 NQF Review. Key changes for providers and their services include new measures to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children, new workforce requirements, improved oversight by regulatory authorities, and additional guidance to support providers and their services in educating and caring for children. 

In September 2022, the first legislation changes were made. The Early Childhood Legislation Amendment Act 2022 makes agreed changes to the National Law and these changes are expected to  take effect in mid-2023 along with upcoming changes to the National Regulations.

The 2019 NQF Review website provides information and updates on the implementation of these changes.


Leading the way with Reconciliation

Education and care services continue to lead the education sector in Reconciliation, with more than 7,500 approved early learning services registered to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) on the Narragunnawali online platform. Children's education and care services comprise nearly three quarters of the approximately 10,221 schools and early learning services currently registered to develop a RAP.

Narragunnawali supports schools and education and care services to develop environments that foster a high level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions. Their online platform is free to access and provides practical ways to introduce meaningful reconciliation initiatives in the educational service and with the community. Education and care services are supported to develop a RAP and teachers, educators and coordinators can access professional learning and curriculum resources to support the implementation of reconciliation initiatives.

Teachers, educators and coordinators seeking inspiration from other services can search and access the more than 13,300 public early learning RAPs on the platform.

There is much discussion about implementing a culturally responsive approach that embraces spaces of inclusion and belonging, and which involves moving beyond understandings of cultural competence. For educators, cultural responsiveness involves critically reflecting to enact more inclusive pedagogies and the ability to interact and communicate effectively and sensitively with people with a different background. This is an important aspect to embrace in the process of embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of service provision in education and care. 

You can read more about cultural responsiveness in the National Quality Framework Approved Learning Frameworks Update Literature Review and the Be You resource Cultural responsiveness in learning communities: A focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  


ECA’s National Conference 2022

Rhonda Livingstone, National Education Leader, ACECQA and Natalie Youd, Salamander Bay Child Care Centre

Earlier this month we supported the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) National Conference which was held in Canberra and delivered online.

This year’s conference covered a number of contemporary challenges and initiatives including work on the national workforce strategy which aims to ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce. The strategy represents a joint commitment between all governments, the children’s education and care sector, and key stakeholders to address the complex and longstanding workforce challenges experienced by the sector. Our General Manager Workforce Engagement and Research, Michael Petrie, spoke about this important priority and shared insights as a panellist in a session focused on Building our future profession

Our General Manager Policy and Regulatory Systems, Craig Bennett, spoke as a panellist in a session on the national Approved Learning Frameworks—10 Years on. The two national approved learning frameworks have proved integral to the success of the National Quality Framework for over a decade. Craig shared insights into the recent collaborative project on the refresh of both Frameworks to ensure they continue to reflect contemporary developments in practice and knowledge, while supporting teachers and educators to promote the wellbeing, learning and development of each child. This project is almost complete and advice to the sector is expected to be provided in early 2023 on implementing the updates. 

Our General Manager National Projects, Lisa McCoy and National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone presented on Beyond Quality - Quality through a CCCFR lens. Lisa and Rhonda shared the successful work in delivering a professional development program for Community Child Care Fund Restricted (CCCFR) services, improving quality by building safety and supervision capability. 

The CCCFR Quality and Safety Training Package was developed in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Education and feedback received on all aspects of the program continues to be very positive. Participating services are proud of the important role they play in children’s education and development by providing safe and well supervised children’s education and care services in a diverse range of communities across Australia. 

We also helped to promote participation and reduce barriers for teachers and educators by being a Conference Scholarship Sponsor. The conference scholarships enabled individuals working in regional, rural or remote locations, practitioners supporting disadvantaged or at risk children, and individuals who have been financially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to attend. Our National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, was delighted to meet one of our scholarship recipients at the conference, Natalie Youd, Centre Educational Leader from Salamander Bay Child Care Centre (pictured). 


NQA IT System Register of prohibited persons and suspended educators

Ensuring children’s safety, health and wellbeing is the first objective of the National Quality Framework.

Accordingly, under the Education and Care Services National Law Act (National Law), an approved provider must not engage a person as an educator, family day care educator, employee, contractor or staff member of, or allow a person to perform volunteer services for, an education and care service if the provider knows, or ought reasonably to know, that there is a prohibition notice in place for this person. 

A regulatory authority may disclose information to approved providers regarding prohibited persons and suspended educators under the circumstances set out in section 272 of the National Law. 

To facilitate the disclosure of this information, approved providers can use the NQA IT System public portal to search for prohibited persons or suspended family day care educators through a register of prohibited persons and suspended educators. If the search identifies a potential match on the register, this can then be confirmed by the relevant regulatory authority which can provide further information on the person or educator.

The register is available on the landing page of the portal. Please note that you must be an approved provider under the National Law to request information through the register.  


ECA Draft Statement on Play

There is strong evidence to support the values and benefits of using play-based pedagogies to support children and young people's learning and development (BERA, 2017 and Zosh et al, 2017 cited in Barblett et al 2021). 

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has recently launched an inaugural Draft Statement on Play.

Developed in consultation with a multi-disciplinary advisory group of national and international experts, the Statement reflects ECA’s commitment to protect and promote the right of all young children to play.

Considering play and young children aged from birth to eight years and children up to 12 years in outside school hours care (OSHC), it aims to inform practice and debate on play-based approaches to early childhood education.

ECA has identified six principles to promote and protect play aimed at deepening understanding and increasing support for young children’s experiences of play. These include:

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Every young child has a right to have play in their lives and play is essential, universal and valuable for its own sake.
  • PRINCIPLE 2: Every young child has a right to a balance of play experiences that develop a healthy mind and body and a sense of wellbeing.
  • PRINCIPLE 3: Through play, young children develop a sense of self and the emotional and social competence to participate in relationships.
  • PRINCIPLE 4: Play connects children to the world and to their cultural identities and it develops communication, language and thinking skills.
  • PRINCIPLE 5: Every child’s right to play is everyone’s business: all adults have a role in protecting and promoting every child’s right to play through valuing children and children’s play and fostering positive, supportive environments that enable quality play opportunities for all children in Australia.
  • PRINCIPLE 6: Children’s right to play is our collective responsibility: all adults have a role in protecting and valuing the importance of play for every child, in every community.

ECA is seeking feedback on the Principles and Statement and has developed both a survey and a consultative document with questions, to guide responses and share links to various play resources, via the ECA website. Feedback is due by 31 October.


Evaluating Objective 2 of the NQF

The NQF Evaluation Framework provides an agreed way for governments to understand how the National Quality Framework (NQF) is meeting its objectives. It also gives governments and all sector stakeholders a common reference point when considering research activities.

Our own research and evaluation activities align to one or more of the objectives of the NQF.

This month we focus on Objective 2 of the NQF: to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services.

We continue to contribute evidence about how to meet this objective under the evaluation framework, including:

NQF Annual Performance Reports

  • the reports include performance against Quality Area 1 of the National Quality Standard (Educational program and practice), the drivers of service quality improvement and the high degree of correlation between performance against educational program and practice, and leadership (Standard 7.2)

Report on Government Services

  • this annual report includes performance against aspects of education and care known to influence educational and developmental outcomes, including Quality Area 1, Quality Area 3 (Physical environment) and Quality Area 7 (Governance and leadership)

Data linkage projects

  • we have supplied NQS quality ratings data for data linkage initiatives including the First Five Years project. This partnership, facilitated through the Multi Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP), combines data held by various agencies to answer questions including about the impact of attendance of education and care on children’s educational and developmental outcomes

Occasional Paper 1: Quality Area 1: Educational Program and Practice

  • this occasional paper analysed performance against Quality Area 1 across service types, socio economic and remoteness classifications, jurisdictions and management types

Occasional Paper 4: Quality Area 3: Physical environments

  • this occasional paper analysed performance against Quality Area 3

Occasional Paper 5: Quality Area 7: Leadership and management in education and care services

  • this occasional paper analysed performance against Quality Area 7

Occasional Paper 7: Quality ratings by socio-economic status of areas

  • this occasional paper analysed the quality of services in higher and lower socio‑economic status areas. It highlighted the significant benefit children from lower socio-economic status backgrounds gain from attending high quality educational programs and their role in reducing the gap in children’s educational and developmental outcomes.

Universities, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to the NQF evidence base by commissioning, undertaking or supporting research in line with the NQF Evaluation Framework.

You can find out more on our Research and reports page, which also provides a wide range of NQF related research and evidence.


Shaping Our Future: A ten-year strategy to ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce 2022–2031

Throughout 2021, Australian governments and national sector stakeholders closely collaborated to develop Shaping Our Future, a ten-year strategy (2022–31) to ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce. The strategy represents a joint commitment between all governments, the children’s education and care sector and key stakeholders to address the complex and longstanding workforce challenges experienced by the sector.

In August 2022, Education Ministers endorsed the Shaping Our Future: Implementation and Evaluation Plan detailing how the 21 national workforce actions will be progressed, monitored and reviewed, including 13 short-term actions to be progressed by the end of 2024. Progress and impacts will be monitored and evaluated through analysis of workforce data and evidence, supplemented by regular consultative activities. 

Representatives from all governments and national sector stakeholder groups were key to the development of the implementation and evaluation plan, and will continue to be involved in delivering and monitoring the effectiveness of the strategy over the next decade, under the direction of Education Ministers.

Both Shaping Our Future and the Shaping Our Future: Implementation and Evaluation Plan are available to download on the ACECQA website.


Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley (GVBV) has been re-awarded the Excellent rating

Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley (GVBV) has been re-awarded the Excellent rating: the highest rating a service can achieve under the National Quality Framework. 

The Melbourne based service was recognised for its collaborative partnerships, its commitment to children that respects and celebrates culture and diversity, and its support of teachers and educators through professional development.

Examples of exceptional practice at the service include:

  • Partnering with not-for-profit DPV Health to deliver a specialised speech program as part of its School Readiness Funding. Positive outcomes observed by GVBV include an increase in speech and language-based strategies across all classrooms and educators being able to identify children’s speech needs earlier.
  • Recognising the need to develop a manual to support educators in leadership roles. In 2020, the Assistant Manager created a comprehensive leadership manual as part of their performance plan goals. The manual supported consistency for responsibilities and roles and provided the opportunity for staff to resource their own learning. 
  • Providing children and families with a fun way to support their understandings of safe and respectful use of technology through the Alannah and Madeline Foundation Playing IT Safe pilot program.

Gowrie Victoria Chief Executive Officer Susan Anderson further validated the accomplishment saying the rating was an incredible recognition of the team’s commitment to children and families in the community. “This acknowledgement of the team at Broadmeadows Valley comes after a challenging couple of years.,” Susan said. “It is an acknowledgment of every one of the team and demonstrates that we work not only with each child but also their family on a daily basis.” 

GVBV Early Learning Manager Michelle Gujer described the team’s reaction as “ecstatic” and said the honour was recognition of the hard work they do each day.

Michelle said an Excellent Rating was not just about ticking boxes. “It’s about bringing all those things we do that exceed the National Quality Standard together,” she said. “It’s about providing exceptional early education and care for children, but it’s also working closely with the community to provide the best possible outcome for families and to build a sense of belonging.”

As a leader in the sector, GVBV shares its practice and learnings through working groups, webinars, video resources and presentations to the wider early childhood sector, ensuring their positive impact reaches far beyond the children and families who access their service.  
 

Read more about Gowrie Victoria Broadmeadows Valley on the ACECQA website.


NQA IT System Satisfaction Survey 2022

The National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) is the primary business tool for approved providers and regulatory authorities to manage compliance obligations and quality assurance under the NQF. 

We strive to continually improve the NQA ITS and would like to hear from our users regarding their experience of the system through the NQA ITS satisfaction survey. The annual survey focuses on system usability, effectiveness of system guidance, and the quality of the support offered by our IT service desk.

If you are a registered user of the NQA ITS, you should have received a link via email to complete the survey. If you are a registered user and have not received your survey link, please contact us at [email protected].

We would appreciate receiving your views through the survey, which will be open until Wednesday, 30 November 2022.


StartingBlocks.gov.au 

StartingBlocks.gov.au is the national government one-stop-shop for families. Our free family focused website is helping parents and carers to choose the best early childhood education and care service for their children by enabling access to fee information, information about children’s development, the NQS quality ratings, and being able to easily estimate out of pocket costs. 

We also include articles and information to help parents and carers understand the important role you have through your policies, programs and practices in their child’s education and development. The following resources may be of interest to your families. 

Factsheet: The importance of play in children’s learning and development
What does a play based approach to learning look like? This family-focused factsheet explains how children develop skills and understandings through play.

Factsheet: Transition to school
There are a range of transition to school experiences that many services can, and do, implement to support children transitioning to school. 

Follow StartingBlocks.gov.au on Facebook 
Follow StartingBlocks.gov.au on Instagram 


Ensuring a strong and successful start to school 

Transition statements are valuable tools for documenting children's educational and developmental journeys for families and for the schools. Each state and territory is working with their services and schools to ensure children's continuity of learning and this is a story about NSW's innovative practice. 

An item from the NSW Department of Education.

Every year across New South Wales, 100,000 children will transition from early childhood education and care settings to school. Part of a strong and successful transition is acknowledging that children start school with existing funds of knowledge and have already begun their educational journey both at home and in early childhood education and care settings.  
 
To ensure that key knowledge about children is passed onto schools in an effective, secure and user-friendly way, the Transition to School Digital Statement is a tool available for teachers and educators. This easy-to-use digital version supports information sharing directly with a child’s school and supports children to have a positive transition to Kindergarten. 
 
NSW Department of Education preschools, community preschools and long day care services can complete the Transition to School Digital Statement, providing a snapshot of each child’s development by outlining their strengths, emerging skills, interests and learning styles. The Statement is then passed on to their kindergarten teacher through an online system ensuring ease of access for schools as well as ECE services. 
 
The Transition to School Statement was developed in partnership with early childhood teachers and educators, families and school teachers. Those involved in the 2021 trial in both early childhood and school settings have said that the digital statement makes the transition process easier, for early childhood teachers and educators, children, families and schools. 
  
“Our service used the digital statements last year in the trial. They were simple and easy to use. It's great, the developmental information goes straight to the child's school and teachers. Our team found this an effective way to ensure continuity and ensure a smooth transition for the child into formal schooling.” Alissa, who is based in a service in Sydney and is a Pedagogical Leader, Early Childhood Education. A kindergarten coordinator also involved in last year’s trial said, ‘’It [the Transition to School Digital Statement] is often the first port of call for us to know where students are coming from.”  
  
Service directors and nominated supervisors wanting to register will need to create a Department of Education account to access the Transition to School Digital Statement. Once registered, service leaders or nominated supervisors can add a service, or multiple services, before inviting teachers and educators to login and start creating and managing statements for children.  NSW public schools can instantly view and download statements sent to them by services by accessing their Schools Dashboard. Parents and carers are also part of the process, as the statement can be shared with them to increase engagement with the transition process. The statement can be viewed online or downloaded as required. 
  
The Department regularly seeks feedback on the Transition to School Digital Statement. This feedback is used to make important changes and improvements. Please reach out to the transition to school team here if you wish to be involved in providing feedback. 
 
Guidance on how to register, log into, or use the Transition to School Digital Statement can be found in the Transition to School Digital Statement User Guide.   
  
More information on both the digital and PDF versions of the Transition to School Statement can be found in the Guide to completing the Transition to School Statement.  
  
For further support, the Department’s Information and Enquiries team can be reached on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or email [email protected]  


 

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