ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2020

Educator and children

 

CEO foreword

Season's greetings

This year has changed us: we don’t take our ability to move around our neighbourhood or the world, our personal networks or social structures, or our security in terms of health and wellbeing for granted.  In Australia, society has a renewed interest in the importance of our sector, particularly noting the courage and commitment of teachers and educators to children’s health, safety and security, wellbeing and vital learning journeys.

This month, we are highlighting the new resources which we have recently linked to each quality area on our website so that they will be easier to locate and use in practice. We have worked in partnership with QCAN and NOSHA to develop the OSHC addendum to the Educational Leader Resource, and our latest NQF annual performance report shows the bigger picture and highlights the good news that service quality is continuing to improve across Australia.

I am also proud to share our latest annual report highlighting the commitment of each and every staff member to supporting children’s rights, as citizens, to experience high quality early education and care. It explains our functions, roles and partnerships, and what we have achieved in the spirit of accountability and transparency.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with you in 2021 to improve the community’s understanding and value of our services and sector in children’s development and education.

Thank you for your hard work in such a difficult year.

From everyone at ACECQA, we wish you a joyful festive season and hopeful New Year.

Gabrielle Sinclair

ACECQA CEO


Critically reflecting on how we engaged in 2020

Child looking at rock with magnifying glass

2020 has been a tumultuous year for many Australians. Bushfire and flood trauma has been followed by the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘rules of engagement’ around how we interact, socialise, travel, shop, work, recreate, educate and care for each other have changed and we have all had to be resilient and continually adapt.

Children’s education and care services have been at the heart of this year of change. As we progress towards the end of the year, but still not the end of the pandemic, it is important to critically reflect on the learnings that you take from 2020, and can build on in 2021.

Critical reflection involves ‘closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from different perspectives’ (Early Years Learning Framework p.13, Framework for School Age Care p.12), and we do this to keep improving outcomes for children. Critical reflection therefore involves being continually curious and asking questions, seeking multiple perspectives, being open to developing new ways of thinking and understanding, analysing and re-evaluating practice, and linking theory to practice. It is informed by everyday situations and problems.

Diverse perspectives are fundamental to effective critical reflection. These originate from everyone within the service, the broader sector and professional networks beyond the service, and from research. During the pandemic, the way we engage to capture these perspectives has likely changed, as our usual forms of interaction, socialisation and communication have changed.

As 2020 closes, consider the engagement practices that you have used this year and how they have shaped your capacity to genuinely include multiple perspectives in critical reflection. Some questions to ponder:

  • When thinking about the way you’ve engaged and captured the perspectives of others, what are your biggest achievements of 2020?
  • What has supported or hindered the capture of diverse perspectives during 2020?
  • Has 2020 changed the way you capture the voices and perspectives of children, families, staff or community members? If so, what is there to learn from those changes?
  • In 2021, what engagement processes would you like to improve?
  • How can you ensure engagement is inclusive and everyone has equal opportunity to participate?
  • How do you respond to diverse perspectives that challenge current practices?
  • Where could you access support to improve meaningful engagement?

Preparing for an emergency

By the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Bush fire level warning sign

Every year, communities across Australia are faced with the devastating effects of disasters. This year alone, we battled bushfires, floods, catastrophic hailstorms, drought and, of course, a global pandemic.

As important organisations protecting our children and staff and as community touchpoints, education and care services need to plan and be prepared for potential emergencies.

Having a plan in place will go a long way to keeping children and staff safe and reduce the impact on property and the ensuing financial burden.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has developed a suite of videos to help you prepare for the disaster season.

The short videos provide practical tips on what to do before, during and after an emergency. The videos also detail your responsibilities and obligations under Commonwealth law.

Topics include:

  • What is a local emergency under Family Assistance Law
  • What your emergency management plan should cover
  • Support for services and families during an emergency
  • Government payments to help you recover
  • Mental health resources.

Watch now on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.


Educational Leadership in Outside School Hours Care

Two children with educator

The Educational Leader Resource was developed to support educational leadership in all service types. In recognition of the unique role of educational leadership in school age care, a new outside school hours care addendum has been added to accompany the recently released family day care addendum.

The Educational Leader Resource Addendum for Outside School Hours Care brings together a topic based collection of information, reflections, practical ideas and experiences of educational leadership in outside school hours care. We recognise that the role of the educational leader in outside school hours care provides unique challenges and opportunities worthy of recognition and celebration through its own addendum.

The information is drawn from Australian and international research, and practitioners working in a diverse range of services. It highlights practices, research, ideas and knowledge that confirm the essential role of educational leaders in outside school hours care. It is presented as individual topics which can be easily considered on their own or collectively.

The OSHC Addendum references a variety of international and Australian resources and research to support your continuous professional development, on various topics, including community engagement and engaging with action research. We’ve also connected with services who discuss their practices in the addendum. Thank you to John Paul College Outside School Hours Care, Forrest Out Of School Hours Care, Willows OSHC, MacGregor OSHC and Camp Hill OSHC who have shared their stories in the addendum.

The ideas and strategies outlined speak directly to those in the educational leader role in outside school hours care services, those who are considering taking on the role and those who support them.

The OSHC addendum is free to download to accompany The Educational Leader Resource, along with the family day care addendum.


Would you like to see streamlined early childhood education and care approval processes?

Two educators looking at a computer

Following consultations over the last four years, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) exploring and discussing options for streamlining the Early Childhood Education and Care approval processes across jurisdictions.

Australia has two main regulatory systems safeguarding the interests of children and families using early childhood education and care services, and associated government investments. We have one regulatory system for early learning, and another for parental workforce participation.

Currently, each regulatory system has its own user interface so there is some duplication in paperwork, and there are opportunities to streamline the application process.  This CRIS explores streamlining options for new providers and existing providers.

There have been consultations with all jurisdictions about various streamlining options since 2016, and providers have expressed their strong support for reduced administrative burden.

To make a written submission on the CRIS, email it to: CCSA-ChildCareServiceApprovals@dese.gov.au by 8 January 2021. All feedback received on the CRIS will be used to develop the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS), and help governments decide what changes will be made.


Early Childhood Resource Hub update

Two educators looking at a computer

Many helpful resources and materials have been transferred to our website following the closure of the Early Childhood Resource Hub (ECRH). They include the most relevant and up to date information and guidance on the National Quality Framework (NQF), National Quality Standard (NQS), quality areas, approved learning frameworks and assessment and rating as well as a number of other key topics.

To make it easier to access these resources, along with our current resources, we have added them to the relevant area on the quality area pages on the new resource tab.

Our new Connecting with practice videos page features videos and supporting resources to support and promote discussion and critical reflection for children’s education and care teachers and educators.

The resources will continue to be added to our website over the coming months.


Update of approved learning frameworks announced by Education Council

Tubs of coloured pencils

The Education Council has commissioned an update of the two national approved learning frameworks under the National Quality Framework (NQF) – the learning framework for children aged birth to five years (Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia), and the learning framework for school age care (My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia).

As the national learning frameworks have been in use for close to a decade, the purpose of this update is to ensure they continue to reflect contemporary developments in practice and knowledge, while supporting all educators to best meet the learning and development needs of each child. The updated terms of reference can be found on the Education Council website.

Work on the update is expected to commence from early 2021, with a stakeholder feedback and engagement process from mid-2021.


Research

Children’s education and care sector continues to display adaptability, resilience and quality improvement

Image of report cover

Our fourth NQF Annual Performance Report is now available online.

The report highlights how education and care service providers adopted new strategies to support and protect children, staff and families from the risks presented by the 2019-20 bushfires and coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

Service providers and regulators rapidly adopted new strategies including using technology to provide ongoing learning and support when children were unable to attend services in person.

 

 

An image shows a snapshot of the findings. Chapter 1 discusses  the vital role of service providers and staff during this challenging year. Chapter 2 reinforces ensuring the health and safety of children is the most important objective of the NQF. Chapter 3 reports the most challenging elements of Quality Area 1. Chapter 4 highlights the growing gap between the quality of services in different socio-economic areas. Chapter 5 reports the development of a ten-year national workforce strategy.

 

Examples of continuous quality improvement highlighted in this year’s report include:

  • More services than ever rated Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above – from 56% in 2013 to 81% in 2020
  • Continuous improvement across all seven quality areas of the NQS
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of services rated Working Towards NQS improved their overall quality rating at reassessment.

While the quality of services in the most disadvantaged areas has again improved, the report does find a growing gap between the quality of services in the most disadvantaged and most advantaged areas. It also identifies sector wide challenges such as workforce sustainability, educator wellbeing, provider and service viability, and skilled migration. These will also require ongoing monitoring and attention by all stakeholders.

Along with the report, you can access supporting resources including a brief summary report, introductory video, slide pack and interactive content.


Starting Blocks

Most popular resources for families in 2020

Educator interacting with three young children

Our family-focussed brand StartingBlocks.gov.au provides information and resources for families about quality early education and care.

The top resources in 2020 were:

You can share these resources with your families and communities to help them understand the important work you do every day.

The quality early learning videos released this year are also great resources for your families. They feature the authentic and diverse voices of children, families, teachers and educators in child care services across Australia, and demonstrate quality early learning in action. You can like and share them on social media as well – we publish them on our ACECQA and Startingblocks.gov.au Facebook and Twitter.