ACECQA Newsletter Issue 7 2021

 

Chil climbing up slide with educator in background watching

 

CEO foreword

Welcome to our July issue and another series of articles to support your role in giving children the best start in life through high quality early childhood education and care.

This month, we focus on the importance of close and collaborative relationship with parents for children’s sense of security, wellbeing, optimal development and agency. Unsurprisingly, parental surveys and research studies here in Australia and internationally, put parents’ trust in educators and teachers “care and supervision” of their children as the main concern when choosing a service. This mandate and the promotion of children’s development require a deep knowledge of each child and a close, consistent and respectful relationship between the child, educator/teacher and parent(s).

The following quote from a Norwegian study is particularly relevant for our multicultural society, and for our shared aim to provide every child with a high quality education and care experience and to recognise the professional standing of educators and teachers:

"Perhaps, the professional educator is someone who is aware of possible challenges when meeting different parents with different demands and views; who is aware of the power he or she holds; and who critically reflects about his or her presumptions and practice, thereby realising that in a culturally diverse community, actors have differing views and habitus". (Sonsthagen, AG, 2020, Early childcare as arenas of inclusion: the contribution of staff to recognising parents with refugee backgrounds as significant stakeholders).

In this edition, we provide an update on the development of the national workforce strategy – what did you say is a priority – and resources to share with colleagues and families from our StartingBlocks.gov.au website.

There is also an inspiring story from C&K’s Coolum Childcare Centre and their initiative to establish a genuine voice for children and families through their community of learners.

We hope you find value in our articles and positive reinforcement for your vital day-to-day roles in your service and community.

Gabrielle Sinclair
CEO ACECQA


Building connections with families to improve outcomes

Parent and two children walking out of service holding hands

The National Quality Framework (NQF) acknowledges that families are children’s first and most influential teachers. The National Quality Standard (NQS) encourages providers of children’s education and care to actively seek out partnerships and develop secure, respectful relationships to ensure families are informed, consulted and supported with their child’s learning and development. These relationships are highlighted in the Exceeding rating Theme 3, which focuses on how service practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community for each Standard.

Quality Area 6 focuses on supportive, respectful relationships with families, which are fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children. Partnerships with families will flourish when they are based on active communication, consultation and collaboration that contributes to children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing. When families and service providers collaborate and build respectful relationships, children have more opportunity to develop a positive sense of self.

Authentic family engagement encourages:

  • the active participation of each child and their family in service decisions and the educational program
  • reflection on inclusive practice to identify and remove potential barriers to an inclusive environment to support the wellbeing of each child and family
  • community engagement to build relationships between each child, the families of the service and the community they live in. This encourages children to develop their identity within the context of their local community
  • the development of enriching programs, practices and policies which provide an opportunity to support children to respect and value diversity.

The NQF recognises that each family’s wellbeing and capacity to nurture and support their children is influenced by the community in which they live and the resources, information and social supports available to them. There is a diversity of family types and each family is unique. Children too, have diverse understandings of ‘family’ and unique relationships with those who feature prominently in their lives. Reflecting on what the concept of family means to each child builds the potential for educators and teachers to further support the important child-family relationship.

To read more about building supportive relationships with families and communities, visit the ACECQA website or our family focussed brand, StartingBlocks.gov.au, where you’ll find a range of resources to share with your children, families, educators, teachers and community.


NAIDOC Week and enduring values

Aboriginal artwork with text Heal Country! 4-11 July and NAIDOC week logo

It was great to see how services celebrated and acknowledged NAIDOC week this month and to see more and more acknowledgement and recognition across the country - in the media and, hopefully, wherever you are located. The values of NAIDOC Week cannot be confined to just a few days and, at ACECQA, we took the chance to reflect on what NAIDOC Week is all about, why it is so important, and how the values of NAIDOC Week need to underpin the work we do.

This year’s NAIDOC theme of Heal Country! calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. This is already an important part of our sector and aligns with the NQF guiding principle that Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued. It is through the commitment and dedication of approved providers, leaders, teachers and educators that service philosophies, the delivery of national standards and the development of Reconciliation Action Plans contribute to the healing of Country.

So much of that opportunity for healing and reconciliation is in the relationships you form with your children, families and local communities. The relationships you develop and maintain, and the acknowledgment you make to the Traditional Custodians of the land give recognition of their tens of thousands of years’ of culture and heritage.

Perry Campbell
Deputy National Education Leader


Education and Care National Amendment Regulations

Two educators looking at a computer together

On 7 July 2021 Education Ministers agreed to a number of amendments to the Education and Care National Regulations (National Regulations) regarding:

  • display of quality ratings
  • transportation of children
  • workforce transitional provisions.

The Education and Care Services National Amendment Regulations 2021 are now available on the NSW Government legislation website.

Display of quality ratings

Section 172(d) of the National Law contains an offence where an approved provider of an education and care service fails to display the rating of the service. The rating must be clearly visible from the main entrance of the service premises.

Education Ministers have approved an amendment to the National Regulations to clarify that an approved provider must display rating certificates issued by or on behalf of the Regulatory Authority, or ACECQA (if ACECQA has given the service the highest rating level) to the approved provider. This is to avoid confusion for families, the community and the broader sector.

This amended regulation will come into effect on 30 July 2021.

Transportation of children

Children are sometimes transported, or travel on transport arranged, by children’s education and care services – for example, transport to and from the service and a child’s home or other location.

Transporting children may present additional risks, including during transition between a vehicle and a service premises or other location. To better manage these risks, all governments have introduced new requirements to strengthen oversight arrangements when children are being transported under the care of an education and care service.

The Education and Care National Amendment Regulations 2020 established new requirements for services to have in place policies and procedures for the safe transportation of children, including requirements for risk assessments and written authorisations.

 Further minor amendments were made to the National Regulations to ensure the effective interaction between provisions relating to authorisations for transportation under Division 7 of Part 4.2 of the National Regulations and other existing provisions.

The amended regulations will come into effect on 1 October 2021.

Workforce transitional provisions

Ministers want to provide certainty about the transitional workforce provisions in the Education and Care Services National Regulations which are due to expire in some jurisdictions at the end of this year. Ministers recognise that workforce challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Accordingly, Ministers have agreed to extend and align the transitional provisions until the end of 2023, where jurisdictions have identified this need, as outlined in the table below. In addition, for some provisions the aim is to develop an ongoing evidence-based regulatory approach, prior to their expiry. The amended regulations will come into effect on 30 December 2021.

Details of the extended provisions are in the table below.

Regulation

Expiry date of 31 December 2021

Expiry date of 31 December 2023

Regulation 239A
Attendance of an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) at a service in remote or very remote location.

QLD

NT, WA, NSW, SA, TAS

Regulation 240
Qualification requirements for educators working in remote and very remote services.

QLD

WA, SA, TAS

Regulation 242*
Persons taken to be an ECT.

QLD

NT, WA, ACT, NSW, SA, TAS

Regulation 264
General qualifications for educators in centre based services.

 

ACT

Regulations 386, 390, 392, 394**
Resignation of an ECT.

QLD

ACT, TAS, WA, SA

Regulations 405, 407, 409, 411**
Resignation of a Suitably Qualified Person.

QLD

ACT, TAS, WA, SA

If you have any queries about the table above which are specific to a state or territory, please contact the relevant Regulatory Authority.

Please note:

None of these transitional provisions apply in Victoria.

*Regulation 242 does not apply in NSW for educators working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under.

**South Australia will adopt both the substance and timing of the existing jurisdiction-specific regulations which apply regulation 135 as if the reasons for an ECT to be absent included resignation until the end of 2023. This change will commence on 30 July 2021.


National workforce strategy consultation findings

Two educators looking at a docuemnt together

In May 2021, as part of our role in coordinating the development of a new national workforce strategy on behalf of all governments, we worked with key stakeholders in the sector to identify possible actions and initiatives to improve the supply, retention and quality of the workforce. Thank you very much to everyone who contributed to this important work.

An online survey was supported by a series of 15 information webinars and jurisdiction-specific events.

Who we heard from:

  • We received 3,800 survey responses
  • Most (90%) respondents worked in a service
  • Almost two-fifths (38%) of respondents indicated they were ECTs, diploma or cert III level educators
  • The majority (56%) of respondents were located in metropolitan areas, with the remainder in regional (39%) and remote (5%) areas.

What we heard:

  • The three most important focus areas for the national workforce strategy were felt to be: Professional recognition (focus area 1); Attraction and retention (focus area 2); Wellbeing (focus area 4)
  • The most important action overall was felt to be: Investigate options for improving professional standing, and workforce pay and conditions, including examining the associated barriers and constraints
  • The free text responses indicated that most respondents favoured potential actions that provide a tangible positive impact for the workforce in the immediate to short term, including improvements to how they are perceived by the broader community
  • While just under two-thirds (65%) of respondents indicated that they intend to stay in the sector for more than five years, those intending to leave sooner highlighted administrative burden, workload, burnout and retirement as key contributors to their decision.

A summary of the public consultation findings is available on our website.

Your feedback is informing further discussions with national sector stakeholders and governments. The final strategy is due to be considered by Education Ministers in the second half of this year.


Safe transportation of children – your questions answered

Child on bus holding hand out

On 1 October 2020, new requirements under the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) commenced for providers who offer, or arrange, the transportation of children as part of their education and care service (other than as part of an excursion). The requirements were introduced to manage the unique risks that can arise when transporting children. The changes included requirements to conduct risk assessments, obtain written authorisations and to have transportation policy and procedures in place (National Regulations 102A – 102D and 168(2)(ga)).

Ahead of these new requirements commencing, we published an information sheet to help providers understand their obligations. We have received some sector feedback seeking further clarity on a range of scenarios, and have worked with state and territory regulatory authorities to develop extra guidance. We have now published Safe Transportation of Children in Education and Care: Your Questions Answered to assist those approved providers and their services that offer, or arrange, the transportation of children in their care.


A community of learners supported by curriculum

Person holding lit lightbulb in hands with text 'Innovation' written over the top

This month we hear from C&K Coolum Community Childcare Centre Coordinator, Jennifer Leo, and Educational Leader, Carol Ruskin. This service was awarded the Emeritus Professor Dr Mary Mahoney AO Award for Excellence in Innovation in Curriculum at the inaugural C&K Innovation in Curriculum Awards. This is the first time a C&K long day care service has been honoured with this award.

Dr Mahoney has given a lifetime of service to medical education, general practice training and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). This award honours her, as former C&K President, and acknowledges children’s education and care services or individual employees who encompass C&K values and demonstrate innovative implementation of the organisation’s Listening and Learning Together Curriculum Approach. 

C&K Coolum Community Childcare and Kindergarten has a long-established a leadership team. Built on our experience, research and ongoing professional learning, the team has a common belief that a child’s early years are the most experientially critical to their life and form the foundation for life-long learning. 

Five years ago we developed a clear plan and objectives of what the leadership team wanted to achieve for the children and families of the service in the future. Our goal is to provide every child with opportunities to become a strong, confident and capable learner and to succeed as they transition to formal schooling.  

The service’s professional teaching team actively promotes the importance of early learning within the education continuum and the role of long day care education within the community. It achieves this through collective professional practice, documentation, engagement with the local community, connection to education facilities and continuing professional development.  

The changing landscape of modern Australian family life means that more children than ever before are attending early childhood education and care at a young age.  At C&K Coolum we acknowledge this societal change and recognise the important role we have as educators to support each child’s learning and development journey. This has been the impetus for our service to continually strive for excellence by supporting and connecting our children and families to create a genuine community of learners. 

Educators, families, children and the community are all seen as equal participants within the C&K Coolum inclusive learning environment.  We strongly believe it takes a village to raise a child.

Find out about C&K Coolum’s key strategies that have supported their success in promoting and leading innovation on our We Hear You blog. You can also find posts from our National Education Leader, and other useful information and resources for services.


Children and educator looking at abacus with text StartingBlocks.gov.au on top

Resources to support transition to school and reading with toddlers

Our family focused website, StartingBlocks.gov.au is updated regularly with evidence-informed and downloadable resources for parents and families. 

These contemporary resources are available for your consideration and to share with your families and communities:

  • Transition to School outlines factors to  support children in the transition to school, including the role that children’s education and care services play in this transition, helping children to settle into their schooling environment and considering outside school hours care requirements for continuity and a confident start
  • Reading with Toddlers includes contributions by Raising Literacy Australia and offers tips on supporting children’s literacy from a young age.

Visit the StartingBlocks.gov.au website for a range of useful resources, fact sheets and infographics to share with your network.