ACECQA Newsletter Issue 3 2019

Educator hugging child while children play

 

ACECQA CEO Foreword

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter.

This month we have a number of articles and resources to assist you in your role as an effective and committed educator or as a key player in children’s education and care. Professional development is a critical component of structural quality and assists services in ensuring that educators and staff experience a positive induction and ongoing in-service support.  We try to complement this responsibility by addressing the isolation that many educators often experience in their professional lives and providing great topics to discuss in your own community of practice.

Our first article invites you to think about critical reflection on a deeper level through the We Hear You blog written by a Centre Director at one of Australia’s Excellent Rated services. Donna’s article is inspiring and refers to the work of Ann Pelo whom I was fortunate to meet this month at the ECMS and Our Place event in Melbourne. Ann is also a passionate advocate for play-based pedagogy (sometimes referred to as ‘age appropriate pedagogy’) which is an essential approach for quality educational program and practice for young children.  What play-based pedagogy actually means does not appear to be well understood in the general community but I would argue that it is the best approach for learning at any age.  This may be a good topic of a future ACECQA newsletter - what do you think?

As you know, an important role we have at ACECQA is to publish guides and resources that support the sector.  We listen to educators at services about what they would like to have for professional learning and we develop engaging and useful resources which we make freely available on our website.

This month, we have the new Quality Improvement Plan template, a new service Self-assessment Tool and a comprehensive Educational Leader Resource. These have been developed in collaboration with education and care experts to help you to be well informed, to achieve the objectives of the National Quality Framework for children’s safety, health, wellbeing and educational and developmental outcomes, and to be confident as “an agent for change for the better”.

As you would expect from a national authority, we have developed a new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which we are proud to share with you.  I know that many education and care services are doing inspiring work in the development of their own RAPs in line with our shared commitment to value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. By encouraging and nurturing a shared understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, we have the potential to make a significant positive difference to reconciliation.

I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter.


New Educational Leader Resource released

Educational Leader Resource cover page

Recognising the important role of the educational leader, and in response to sector feedback, ACECQA has developed and launched a comprehensive and contemporary Educational Leader Resource. This resource is a collection of practical advice, research and reflections to guide and support the capabilities and responsibilities of the exciting, yet potentially challenging role of educational leader.

Developed in conjunction with service and educational leaders from all service types as well as academics and sector leaders, the Resource:

  • helps to clarify what is expected of this important role, from both the educational leader and provider perspective
  • demonstrates how the role supports quality outcomes for children and families
  • provides ideas for professional development and reflection.

Using a highly practical approach, the Resource includes case studies, activities, links to helpful resources, reflective questions and models to ‘unpack’ guidance as well as sample templates. This is complemented by inspirational images, colour coding, ‘bite-size’ information and comprehensive referencing.

The Educational Leader Resource will assist providers in selecting and supporting educational leaders (in line with the requirements of NQS Element 7.2.2). The focus is on guiding and supporting educational leaders to confidently and creatively undertake and shape the role to reflect the unique context of each service. The resource is relevant for experienced educational leaders and those either new to, or considering, taking on the role.

This user-friendly free resource is now available to download from the Educational Leader page on the ACECQA website. Printed copies will be available for purchase in the near future.


ACECQA’s 2019-2020 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)

Chad Briggs with Indigenous artwork at service

Today is National Close the Gap Day – a day which recognises the disparity between the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that of other Australians and reminds us all of the importance of striving for reconciliation.

Closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is not only achievable through improving health and education outcomes, but also by encouraging all Australians to recognise the cultures, identities and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. By fostering our understanding and respect for these cultures, we have the potential to make a significant and positive difference to reconciliation.

At ACECQA, we are committed to reconciliation, with a vision of a fair, just and equitable Australia that is reconciled and in doing so provides opportunities and equal outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending children’s education and care services across Australia.

ACECQA recognises and affirms that reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians is the responsibility of all Australians. As Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia, states, ‘reconciliation is no one single issue or agenda’ and can be embedded in many ways.  

We also acknowledge the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of this Land. We acknowledge and respect the special relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with their traditional lands and waters, as well as their histories and diverse cultures, contributions, customs and circumstances.

ACECQA 2019-2020 Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)

To celebrate this commitment and continue our reconciliation journey, we have developed our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which has recently been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.

This RAP acknowledges our responsibility and outlines our commitment to reconciliation by working towards an environment that celebrates the unique place that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures hold in Australia.

This RAP has been developed with reference to the:

  • five dimensions of reconciliation
  • guiding principles of the National Quality Framework, including how they relate to the:
    • Council of Australian Governments (COAG) ‘Closing the Gap’ target for early childhood education
    • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and
    • learnings from the development and implementation of our previous RAP.

To find out more about developing your own RAP, visit Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali website.


ACECQA’s new service Self-assessment Tool is now available

Folders lined up at service

Self-assessment against the National Quality Standard (NQS) drives continuous improvement and is essential to providing quality outcomes for children. (Guide to the NQF 2018)

ACECQA has developed a service Self-assessment Tool to support approved providers, service leaders and educators assess the quality of their education and care service’s practices, policies and procedures, against the NQS, and the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations.   

Self-assessment is an important part of the quality improvement planning process. Designed to complement and contribute to the development, review and update of your service’s Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), the tool supports service teams to reflect on their current practice against the NQS and legislation and to plan for quality improvements.

The Self-assessment Tool will help you to identify service strengths, areas of compliance, practices that are Exceeding NQS, and areas and opportunities for quality improvement. The tool helps you through the process of self-assessment which can, where needed, inform your QIP.

ACECQA’s Self-assessment Tool is an optional template suitable for all service types. The tool provides a process that services may choose to apply or adapt in a way that meets the needs of their unique service context.    

Reflective questions to inspire conversations about self-assessment with your team:

  • Is the process of self-assessment an embedded practice for educators, service leaders and management?
  • How do you currently document and share information about service practices with your service community?
  • Is self-assessment against the NQS and legislation used to inform improvements in service operations?
  • Is a self-assessment process consistently used to identify areas for quality improvement for different Standards?
  • Do existing self-assessment processes contribute to the building of a positive organisational culture and critically reflective team?
  • Does your current self-assessment process (or development of your QIP) provide an opportunity for all staff members to contribute their thoughts on current practices and ideas for improvement?
  • How might the ideas and suggestions of children and families be considered in this process?
  • How is self-assessment used to celebrate achievements?

Quality improvement planning

Educator with parents discussing documents

All services should maintain a culture of ongoing professional reflection and self-assessment, and document a continuous improvement in their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP). Every service must have a QIP to assess the quality of its performance in delivering quality education and care against the National Quality Standard (NQS) and the National Regulations. The QIP also identifies areas of strengths and assists in planning future improvements. It also needs to contain a statement of the philosophy of the service as well as being an opportunity to document and celebrate the service’s strengths.

To complement the release of ACECQA’s new self-assessment tool, ACECQA has also developed a new QIP template that can be downloaded for use from ACECQA’s website.

While there is no prescribed format for a QIP, services may choose to use a template that has been developed to address the minimum requirements.

A QIP is required to:

  • include an assessment by the approved provider of the quality of the practices of the service against the NQS and the National Law and National Regulations
  • identify areas that the approved provider considers may require improvement
  • contain a statement of philosophy for the service.

You may also consider the following questions when developing and reviewing your QIP.

Is the QIP document:

  • informed by a comprehensive self assessment process and guided by a shared vision for the service?
  • contributed to by stakeholders – i.e. educators, children, families and the community?
  • available at the service?
  • updated at least annually and after an assessment and rating visit (perhaps it may be a regular staff meeting agenda item)?
  • available to be viewed by an authorised officer or submitted to the regulatory authority on request?
  • prepared for a new service within three months of the service approval being granted?

Further reading and resources

ACECQA – Quality Improvement Plans

Information sheet – Reviewing your Quality Improvement Plan


Understanding critical reflection

KU Lance educator with child playing with blocks

This month, on We Hear You, the Director of KU Lance Children's Centre, Donna Morley, explains why educators should embrace professional learning opportunities to inform the way they critically reflect.

KU Lance was awarded the Excellent rating by ACECQA in March 2018. The Excellent rating is the highest rating a service can achieve under the National Quality Framework.

 


Reminder - additional staffing requirement from 1 January 2020

Staff sitting around in 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 of preschool age or under are being educated and cared for.

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.

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, the ACECQA Board 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. 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).

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. For more information please refer to the ACECQA website.


ACECQA Board appointments

ACECQA Board members

Ms Judy Hebblethwaite has commenced her second term as the Chair of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) Board and welcomed Professor Ann Farrell into her new role as Deputy Chair.

Professor Ann Farrell was first appointed to the ACECQA Board in 2016, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise in early childhood education and care, children’s rights to protection and participation, and research ethics.

Ms Hebblethwaite thanked outgoing ACECQA Board Deputy Chair, Ms Catherine Hudson and Board member Dr Robyn Layton AO QC, for their significant contributions and commitment to ACECQA and its goals.

Education Council also made a number of other new appointments to ACECQA’s Board, with Mrs Amanda Price-McGregor, Mr Selwyn Button, Dr Anne Glover AO and Ms Sandra Lambert AM starting their first terms.

ACECQA’s Board brings together a dedicated team, with a wealth of relevant experience and commitment to improving education and care outcomes for Australia’s children. A mix of returning and new Board members provides ACECQA with a balance of continuity and new insights and perspectives.