ACECQA Newsletter Issue 1 2021
Happy New Year and welcome to our first newsletter for 2021.
It is time to celebrate many ‘firsts’ and to set fresh hopes with the promise of new beginnings. If you are a new teacher or educator, congratulations on choosing early childhood education and care. If you are continuing your career in the sector, welcome again to a new year.
For children, it is the excitement of either returning to friends and familiar settings or meeting new friends and facing the challenge of creating a brand new set of enduring relationships. As you are welcoming families to your services in 2021, StartingBlocks.gov.au has plain English information and resources on quality early childhood education and care that you may wish to share with them or encourage them to access.
Every teacher and educator I know has a favourite story about how quickly children can grow and develop their knowledge of the world and their own skills – and how their interests and needs can change even more rapidly. For me, it was a delight to watch my five year old grandson teach himself to wink over Christmas. A great skill to master.
When I read applications for the Excellent rating, it is impressive to see the dedication of services in changing their own programs, practices and processes accordingly. It is hard work and they are exceptional in their ability to adapt to children’s and families’ circumstances and lives. They also show leadership by adjusting to, and accommodating, changes in the lives and circumstances of their staff.
This ability underpins the journey of quality improvement and is enabled by the strength of relationships: between staff and parents, staff and children, children with peers and older children, staff and colleagues, services and their communities.
Healthy relationships are built on respect, trust, understanding and frequent opportunities for genuine communication. They also need to be enduring through consistency of attachment, enhancing wellbeing and sense of belonging. Exceptional services tend to have low staff turnover and celebrate continuous service through staff awards, for example.
This month, we share other stories of Excellent rated services to inspire and refresh your own goals for 2021.
Hopefully, you will find something new and interesting and, if you do, please share with others.
The Excellent rating is the highest rating achievable under the National Quality Framework. For the sector, the rating celebrates excellence in delivering quality education and care. It recognises approved providers, teachers and educators using innovative practice to achieve exceptional quality outcomes for and on behalf of:
- children and families
- the local community and/or organisations
- the wider education and care sector.
Ultimately, Excellent rated services transform opportunities identified through children’s and families’ voices into outcomes. Practices, programs and partnerships are tailored in response to their needs and interests within the unique context of the service and its community.
Through the Excellent rating, we’ve also been able to recognise services' inclusive approaches and practices. For example, services that are creating and maintaining relationships with their local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community to further build knowledge, understanding, respect and valuing of the rich local culture and history. Other examples include services facilitating improved access for children with additional needs, not only to their own education and care service but also working with other services to do the same.
We’ve heard about innovative and compassionate ways that service leaders, teachers and educators have rallied around families experiencing trauma. A number of Excellent rated services have demonstrated exceptional collaborative partnerships with the communities that they serve, resulting in changes in practice and demonstrable improvements for children.
We’ve also seen examples of exceptional practice in the way teams are supported to engage in professional development and growth, establishing and leading networks across the sector to share these opportunities.
We invite you to read more about how Excellent rated services are transforming opportunities into improved outcomes for children and their communities. Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard in all seven quality areas are eligible to apply.
We’ve recently updated the Excellent rating page on our website. The Excellent Rating Guidelines, a practical handbook and the application form for new and reapplying services can all be found on this webpage.
Approved providers can now directly access and re-issue a copy of their service’s assessment and rating certificate, without having to contact their regulatory authority.
This new functionality on the NQA IT System portal, on the services details page, is available for all services with a current quality rating.
Education and care sector response to COVID-19 pandemic
Education and care service providers, leaders and staff have an essential role in supporting children before, during and after major incidents, emergencies and disasters. Like many others in the education sector, new strategies were adopted to support and protect children, staff and families in 2020, in response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is in keeping with the first and most important objective of the National Quality Framework – to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children.
Many providers demonstrated significant innovation in their use of technology to continue children’s learning remotely, while also maintaining face-to-face education and care where possible. Such innovation also included activity packs, book clubs, toy libraries and home visits which enabled continuity of learning and strengthened relationships between children, and families and staff
Providers and their staff have also demonstrated considerable and prolonged resilience and commitment in response to a range of significant challenges. Find out more in our NQF Annual Performance Report 2020.
New resources on our website
Over 300 helpful resources and materials have been transferred to our website following the closure of the Early Childhood Resource Hub (ECRH).
Our site now hosts additional historic information and resources on the formation of National Quality Framework (NQF) and approved learning frameworks as well as a number of other key topics. These documents may be useful to the sector and educational institutions conducting research projects.
Other reports relevant to the NQF that may be of interest to researchers and those working in the sector can be found on our Research and reports page.
We have also connected a variety of resources to relevant quality area pages on the new resource tab to help teachers and educators find related material. Resources will continue to be added to our website over the coming months.
Resources for new families at your service and transition to school
A child’s learning milestones are an exciting part of their growth and development, and the changes involved can be a challenge for families who need to support and prepare them along the way.
Starting Blocks’ fact sheets are a great resource to share with the families as their child develops and grows.
- How can you help your child settle into early learning and education? – Starting education and care is often a child's first experience outside of their family environment. It can be an emotional time for everyone involved. This fact sheet offers tips on how families can support their child to look forward to, and enjoy, their new experience
- Transition to school – Starting school is a major event in the lives of children and their families. Preparing children for this change sets them up for future successful learning and development particularly if children have not had experience in an early education and care service. This fact sheet offers parents and carers tips on how to support children in their transition to school.
Our quality early learning videos can also help families understand what quality looks like.
The Starting Blocks website has implemented new functionality on its Find Child Care tool, so families are now able to search by National Quality Standard Rating as well as location.