ACECQA Newsletter Issue 10 2018

Educators working

Mentoring to build educator capacity

Educators are undoubtedly a great asset to quality education and care services, with research showing that a highly qualified children’s education and care workforce is one of the most powerful influences on positive outcomes for children and quality early learning programs and environments.

It is therefore essential that we support educators to reach their professional best. 

Mentoring can have a profound effect on educators’ professional development and growth, and build their capacity.  By providing benefits to educators throughout their career, mentoring has positive outcomes for settings and the profession as a whole.

Mentoring can also support and strengthen quality practice in National Quality Standard (NQS) Quality Areas 1, 4 and 7, promoting positive outcomes for children and families.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is fundamentally a learning relationship that supports, strengthens and develops professional practice. Traditionally, mentoring is a one-to-one learning relationship between a novice (the mentee) and a more experienced practitioner (the mentor). Mentors guide, support, provide feedback and develop the goal-setting and critical reflection of their mentee. There is mutual benefit, with both mentor and mentee developing professionally through the relationship.

How can mentoring build educator capacity?           

Mentoring has been shown to boost early childhood teaching confidence and improve teaching expertise. Mentoring increases educator’s knowledge base and skills; agency; access to support and collaboration; and strengthens and improves professional practice, such as teaching methods, group management, learning assessment and relationship building. Mentoring can increase educators’ job satisfaction, engagement with their practice and their commitment.  Mentored educators report increased self-worth and empowerment.

Mentoring is essential for early career educators, supporting their transition to the workforce and enhancing their job satisfaction, commitment and retention. Many educators’ first mentoring experience is as a mentee during a student practicum. Mentoring has a critically supportive role at these times of transition, such as when educators progress from student to student-educator, or graduate educator to the workplace. Supporting educators during their transitions can be crucial to their success, whether that be transitioning to a new role, new responsibilities or a new workplace. So valuable is the role mentoring can play, some Australian states and territories have integrated mentoring into early childhood teacher registration and the transition from provisional to proficient teacher. In New Zealand, a two-year mentoring program is intrinsic to early childhood teacher registration.

Mentoring is a critical component of effective induction programs. Comprehensive induction is integral to clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities (NQS Element 7.1.3). Mentoring can also improve educator retention by reducing 'beginner educators' leaving a workplace or the profession. Experiences during the first years influence whether educators stay or leave the profession. Continuity of staff strengthens quality practice and outcomes for children (NQS Element 4.1.2).

Mentoring support is important in circumstances of professional isolation and policy change. ‘Isolation’ can be a function of being new to the profession, being professionally isolated from peers or being geographically isolated. Mentoring reduces isolation by connecting and supporting educators, with mentees reporting a greater sense of belonging to the profession and communities of practice. Mentoring encourages professional conversations, creates a culture of inquiry and builds professional learning communities. Collaborative learning communities nurture a network of shared practice. This, in turn, reduces educator isolation and builds confidence.  

Mentoring is a highly effective leadership development strategy and is an investment in growing the leadership capacity of a setting and managing leadership succession. Mentoring develops leadership by supporting and empowering mentees. The intrinsic coaching and goal setting embedded within mentoring are highly beneficial to the professional development process and educators’ self-directed future practice. Mentors also report enhanced professional identity as a result of mentoring. Professional development and enhanced professional identity of the children’s education and care workforce increases the sector's overall professionalism.

Reflective questions

  • How could mentoring support me, professionally?
  • What mentoring is available within my service/organisation and how can I access it?
  • Could I be a mentor?
  • How could I approach others to offer my knowledge, skills and experience?

Further reading and resources

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership – Professional conversations

Early Childhood Development Agency – Mentoring Matters: A practical guide to learning focused relationships

Education Council New Zealand – Triangulated mentoring conversations

KidsMatter – Mentoring: relationships that sustain and inspire

MindTools – The GROW Model: A simple process for coaching and mentoring

Murphy, C. and Thornton, K. (2015) Mentoring in Early Childhood Education, NZCER Press, Wellington, New Zealand.

Guide to the National Quality Framework update

The Guide will be updated at the end of September.

Minor updates will reflect changes to the National Law and Regulations in Western Australia from 1 October and to clarify some other guidance.

The ‘Changes to the Guide’ table on the ACECQA website will list these minor updates in a print-friendly interactive PDF. 

If you’re using a hard copy of the Guide, you may wish to place this within the inside cover for easy reference.

As highlighted on ACECQA’s website, the Guide is designed as an online PDF document. Along with ensuring that you will always be referring to the latest version of the Guide, another benefit of using the online PDF is to quickly and easily search for content by keyword(s).

Showcasing practice

We regularly hear of exceptional practice in children’s education and care services, and are always interested in finding out more and sharing how these practices have come about.

This month, we’ve spoken with three services to find out about how they have critically reflected on the needs of children, families, communities and educators to identify ways to improve practice.

Uniting Frederick Street Preschool: Articulating practice to families

In response to families questioning school readiness practices and programs at the service, Uniting Frederick Street Preschool developed a series of ‘topic books’. These included photographs of children engaging in learning experiences, with notes explaining how the learning occurring helps to prepare children for future success. They were created to help shift families’ focus from ‘school readiness’ to ‘the foundations of learning’ with topics including:

  • Independence
  • Self-Help Skills
  • Literacy In Action
  • Numeracy Snapshots
  • Healthy Eating
  • Social and Emotional Development.

Educators also created a ‘Children’s Citizenship’ topic book to highlight the different ways children are empowered to influence decision-making within the service. The development of this book led educators to critically reflect on practices surrounding meal times, rest time and daily safety practices, and identify areas of improvement.

Lansvale Preschool: Articulating practice among educators and external professionals

Most children and families at Lansvale Preschool are learning English as an additional language. To support their needs, this service is working with Community Language (CL) Educators to develop a language program for bilingual children in Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer and English.

Lansvale Preschool educators prepared training materials for CL Educators to help them develop a strong understanding of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and how it guides practice within the education and care setting. They also provided training on writing learning stories, observations and reflections.

As a result CL Educators are now using the EYLF to analyse and extend on children’s strengths and interests, which are then translated into the child’s home language to share with families.

Effectively articulating practice to the CL Educators has helped Lansvale Preschool deliver a high quality program that provides opportunities for children to expand their competence in both languages, maintain family connections, and develop a sense of identity that respects both cultures.

Awabakal Preschool – Wickham: Articulating practice within the community

Each year Awabakal Preschool – Wickham participates in local NAIDOC Week celebrations. Educators take this opportunity to talk to community members about the service’s practices, programs and environments. This engagement allows educators to develop relationships with members of the community, while also encouraging them to take charge of their education, health and wellbeing.

Awabakal was involved in the initial implementation of ‘The Root Cause’, a program developed to help educate children and families on how food can affect mood, behaviour and learning. As a part of the initiative, the director undertook interviews with ABC radio to discuss the program and the impacts it had on the children, families and service.

Promote your NQS rating to families and the community

Have you requested your National Quality Standard (NQS) rating logo?

A growing number of services and providers are using their logo on promotional materials, such as their website, social media page, email signature, signage and letterhead to promote their overall rating. Use or display of the logos is voluntary.

In addition to the Excellent rating logo, there is a logo for Exceeding, Meeting and Working Towards NQS.

The logos were designed to raise awareness of the ratings for families and the wider community and be a conversation starter that leads to greater understanding of the National Quality Framework. Helping families understand the context of the NQS and the importance of quality for their child’s development and education will support them to better understand your role as educators and your service’s strengths and commitment to quality improvement.

If your service is rated Working Towards, Meeting or Exceeding NQS, you can request your logo from the National registers and follow the steps on the ACECQA website.  

NQA IT System maintenance

NQA ITS September 2018 maintenance photo tile

We will be performing maintenance on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA IT System) from 7pm Friday 28 September to Sunday 30 September 2018. The NQA ITS will be temporarily unavailable during this time and is expected to be back online by 30 September 2018.

Any saved forms that have not been submitted prior to the maintenance period will not be available after this time, so please make sure all in-progress forms are submitted before 7pm Friday 28 September 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.

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