ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2018

Two happy boys playing with building blocks.


Free allergy management resources

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), the peak medical and patient support organisations for allergy in Australia, have partnered to develop a National Allergy Strategy for Australia. The National Allergy Strategy was developed in consultation with key stakeholder organisations and aims to improve the health and quality of life for those living with allergic diseases and to reduce the burden on those who care for them.

The National Allergy Strategy, ASCIA and A&AA are committed to promoting the highest standard of medical practice, training, education and research, to improve the health and quality of life of people with allergic diseases.

“Food allergy remains a growing problem in Australia, with rates on the rise, and episodes of life-threatening anaphylaxis increasing,” explains Associate Professor Richard Loh, Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy and past President of ASCIA. “While people with food allergy are usually successful in avoiding their allergens in their own environment, research tells us that most deaths from anaphylaxis occur outside of the home,” he says.

The National Allergy Strategy received funding to develop resources in a number of areas including food allergy management in food service including early education and care services. The All About Allergens online training was released last year and is available free of charge. The course is interactive, and a certificate of completion can be printed on successful completion.

In Australia, one in 10 Australian infants now have a confirmed food allergy. Food-related anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years. To help manage food allergy and anaphylaxis in the community, free resources are available on both the ASCIA and National Allergy Strategy websites. These free resources align with Quality Area 2 of the National Quality Standard, and include:

ACECQA encourages all children’s education and care service providers and educators to access these resources.


More than 20,000 quality assessments undertaken since 2012

Lady assessing preschool

 ACECQA’s National Quality Framework (NQF) Snapshots have been published quarterly since 2013, providing a regular overview of the Australian children’s education and care sector, including the progress and results of quality assessment and rating against the National Quality Standard (NQS).

The latest NQF Snapshot for Quarter 3 2018 reveals 78% of Australian children’s education and care services have an overall quality rating of Meeting NQS or above. As at 30 September 2018, 6840 services across Australia were rated Meeting NQS, and a further 4779 services were rated Exceeding NQS.

Since 2012, over 20,000 quality assessments of children’s education and care services have been completed by state and territory regulatory authorities. Almost 2000 of these have been undertaken using the 2018 NQS, introduced from 1 February 2018.

The NQF Snapshot Q3 2018 is available as a PDF document and as a downloadable Excel workbook with detailed service level information. An interactive online version of the Snapshot, which includes additional analysis, is also available.


Reflection shaping practice

Happy children and educators KU Lance

Reflective practice is an important part of the work of educators as it brings an opportunity to look closely at the impact of the environment, the choice of resources, the role of the educator and possibilities for ‘Where to next?’ The Guide to the National Quality Framework provides examples of questions to guide reflection which can be used by teams or individual educators to inspire discussions and bring about subtle or major enhancements to the program and/or practice.

This month, we look at some different approaches to reflection, and the way it has shaped practice and future programs at a number of services.

Children’s voices

One particular approach to reflection is incorporating the voices of children across different aspects of practices and programs. Educators strive to include children’s voices within their program, and particularly when reviewing their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) and service philosophy.  This can also be the case when engaging in reflective practice. At Uniting Preschool in Grafton, NSW, children are supported to initiate and lead ‘Children’s Policy Meetings’ to identify and address service issues, concerns, ideas, opportunities for improvement.

Educators, as well as service teams, often reflect on the strengths, capabilities and interests of children and their engagement with the program. This approach allows educators the opportunity to consider the purpose and meaning behind planned learning experiences. At Concordia College OSHC in South Australia, educators visited a local service and noted their use of ‘clubs’ and how they engage children. This led the Concordia College OSHC educators to reflect on the strengths and interests of the children and discuss back at their service the use of clubs. This approach to their reflective practice has resulted in a renewed focus of their planning for children’s learning and how educators engage with children.

Valuing critical reflection

Educators can easily see the value of critically reflecting on the program and children’s engagement, which influences environmental changes. Educators have an understanding of the role of the environment and its impact on children’s learning. Based on reflective practice, educators often make subtle changes to the physical environment to reflect the changing interests and abilities of children. For one particular service, Clarendon Children’s Centre Co-Op in Victoria, they noticed an increase in the inclusion of children with hearing disabilities and/or spoken language delay. As a result of reflecting on their service environment, the educators made a number of adjustments, including placing padding underneath all chairs and tables to soften background noise, carpeting all wooden shelving areas and attaching drapery to high ceilings to reduce noise. Frequency Modulation (FM) systems were also introduced to transmit sounds as hearing aids alone were not sufficient due to background noise and distance.

These are only a few examples of the ways reflective practice is shaping practice in children’s education and care services across the country and supporting better outcomes for children.

Where has your reflective practice taken you, and where could it take you next?

Further reading and resources

Anne Kennedy – Reflective Practice: Making a commitment to ongoing learning

Australian Department of Education – Leading Learning Circles for Educators Engaged in Study

We Hear You – The journey towards critical reflection


Starting Blocks – supporting families’ first step into education and care

Happy children starting blocks material KU Lance

ACECQA’s Starting Blocks website has been providing families with trusted information on early education and care since 2015.

Starting Blocks has a range of resources that can assist services in helping new families understand children’s early education and care.

Practical and printable resources are helping children and their families make smooth transitions into children’s education and care, and supporting children’s ongoing learning and development.


Families qualitative research project 2018

Father with son and educator in service

ACECQA recently commissioned qualitative research to understand parents’ decision-making processes when choosing an education and care service for their child. This research built on a large-scale survey of families conducted in 2017 and two earlier projects.

A number of themes were explored, including influences on parents and carers’ decision‑making process, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parent perspectives and responses to content produced for ACECQA’s family-focused brand, Starting Blocks.

The research found, although general community awareness of NQS ratings remains low, quality does matter to parents and carers. While the concept of what constitutes quality differs between parents and carers, depending on the development level or age of a child, the expectations of quality do closely align with the standards and quality areas of the NQS.

Recommendations from the research included the need to conduct coordinated and high profile national communications to raise awareness of the quality ratings and to ensure the language used to communicate with parents and carers is meaningful and relevant.


Additional staffing requirement from 1 January 2020

Staff standing around a service chatting and having meeting

From 1 January 2020, providers of long day care services and preschools/kindergartens will need to have a second early childhood teacher or, alternatively, a ‘suitably qualified person’ in attendance when 60 or more children preschool age or under are being educated and cared for.

Services located in NSW are unaffected by these changes, as additional ECT staffing requirements have been in place for several years.

Recognition as a ‘suitably qualified person’

In October 2018, ACECQA determined the following qualifications are required for a ‘suitably qualified person’:

  • An individual who is ‘actively working towards’ (see Regulation 10 of the National Regulations) an approved early childhood teaching qualification AND has completed at least 50 per cent of the qualification or holds an approved early childhood education and care diploma

OR

  • An individual who is registered (accredited in New South Wales) as a primary or secondary school teacher in Australia AND holds an ACECQA approved early childhood education and care diploma (or higher approved qualification)

These qualifications are published on the ACECQA approved qualifications list. You should retain evidence of your primary or secondary teaching qualification, teacher registration/accreditation and ACECQA approved diploma level (or higher) qualification as evidence that you meet the requirements.

Please note that the requirement for an ACECQA approved diploma level (or higher) qualification is separate to the requirement for a primary or secondary teaching qualification (i.e. two separate qualifications are required).

In its deliberations, ACECQA carefully considered the context of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the early childhood education and care workforce, including the ongoing:

  • aim of building a highly skilled workforce 
  • sector workforce pressures and challenges, particularly in rural and remote areas.

As part of its deliberations, ACECQA also agreed to monitor and review the implementation, administration and impact of this determination at the end of 2022.

The 1 January 2020 requirement is the final scheduled step up in staffing requirements for NQF approved services that were announced in 2010, and progressively introduced since 1 January 2012. Regulation 133(1)(b) and 134(1)(b) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations provide the full detail of the requirement.

Please note that a ‘suitably qualified person’ can be counted towards educator to child ratios when working directly with children, in the same way that an ECT can.


NQA ITS satisfaction survey

NQA ITS survey acecqa logo with text

This month we’re inviting feedback from National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) users by Friday 30 November 2018. This second NQA ITS satisfaction survey focuses on usability and the level of support offered by our IT service desk. ACECQA strives to continually improve the NQA ITS and its usability and we value your feedback.

If you are a registered user of the NQA ITS, you should have been emailed a link to complete the survey.

If you are users of the IT system and have not received your survey link, please contact nqaits@acecqa.gov.au.


Share your NQS poster displays with us  

NQS posters

Earlier this year we updated the National Quality Standard (NQS) quality area posters, including a poster summarising the NQS, and a ‘What we do for your child’ poster. We have had some great feedback from services using them to begin conversations with families about the quality areas.

We are also seeing some services displaying them in creative and engaging ways, and would love to see more.  Share yours with us on social media and tag us @ACECQA on Facebook, #ACECQA on Twitter.

The posters are a great way of introducing families to the quality areas and the NQS, and explaining the importance of early learning and education.


Be You – new national initiative supporting children’s mental health

Be You logo

The new Be You national education initiative is promoting and supporting mental health from early childhood through to 18 years, and is available to all education and care services, primary and secondary schools in Australia for free.

Developed by Beyond Blue in partnership with Early Childhood Australia and headspace, Be You is an integrated approach building on five evidence-based programs – KidsMatter Early Learning, KidsMatter Primary, MindMatters, ResponseAbility and headspace School Support. Services currently connected to these programs will also transition to Be You.

Be You reinforces the foundational influence of the early years, and the importance of education settings in prevention and early intervention. With a strong evidence-base, it provides a framework for professional learning, capacity-building and actions children’s education and care services and schools can take to implement a whole learning community approach to mental health and wellbeing. This ensures sustainable benefits extend to children, staff and families.

Free, online professional development encompasses five domains and educators can access these individually, or as a learning community. Resources are extensive, flexible and adaptable, and encompass fact sheets, tools, handbooks, an evidence-based programs directory, events and support organisations. Learning communities also have access to a Be You Consultant.


NQA IT System maintenance

NQA ITS maintenance ACECQA logo

We will be performing maintenance on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA IT System) from 8.30 am Friday 7 December and through that weekend. The NQA IT System will be unavailable during this time and is expected to be back online by 7pm Sunday 9 December 2018.

Any saved forms that have not been submitted prior to the maintenance period will not be available after this time, so please ensure that all in-progress forms are submitted before Friday 7 December 2018.

For any incidents, complaints or events that require notification within a 24-hour period under the National Law, please contact your regulatory authority while the website is under maintenance. For all other applications/notifications, please wait until the system is back online.