ACECQA Newsletter Issue 10 2021
During the development of the recently released National Workforce Strategy, a key point of agreed importance was the recognition of early childhood teachers and educators in the sector as a ‘profession’. The tension in public debate in Australia has long been the way early childhood education and care has been categorised as ‘care’ rather than ‘early learning’, ‘education’ and/or ‘childhood development’. This ambiguity undermines the critical role of early childhood teachers and educators, underestimates the importance of children’s early years, and confuses the value and standing of the workforce in both the education sector and society in general.
This month, we provide a variety of articles in acknowledgement of the professional practice expected of all education professionals. This includes a commitment to ongoing in-service development and learning both of which build on the profession’s mandatory qualifications and enables teachers and educators to be up to date with sector requirements. Our articles on building a professional learning community, reminders of regulatory requirements and the latest news about the treatment of extreme allergy and anaphylactic reaction are aimed to help.
We also provide details on the review of the Approved Learning Frameworks Update. The literature review and discussion paper are interesting reads and may assist in reflections about our approach to children’s learning and development, including what is assessed/documented and how we take accountability for children’s outcomes.
For anyone considering becoming an approved provider, this month we have developed five eLearning modules covering responsibilities of the approved provider including governance, management and supporting staff. There is a clear link between strong leadership and high quality service policies, programs and practice. When approved providers respect the knowledge and skills of their teachers and educators, there is support for appropriate induction and mentoring, opportunities to collaborate and engage in professional learning, and an investment in staff continuity and retention.
Two important features of the National Quality Framework are the commitment to continuous quality improvement and transparency of information to help parents and families choose the service that best meets the needs of their children. Our articles about upcoming changes to StartingBlocks.gov.au and new translated resources provide you with more information to share with your families.
Finally, congratulations for choosing a career in early childhood education and care. On World Teachers’ Day on 29 October, we celebrate our teachers and educators who have such a critical role in children’s safety, wellbeing, health, development and education.
The importance of reflective practice and ongoing professional development is highlighted in Quality Area 7 of the National Quality Standard (NQS). Effective leadership establishes a culture of reflective practice to encourage continuous improvement across all aspects of the service, resulting in a higher quality service for children and their families (Guide to the NQF, p. 282).
Establishing a system of regular performance reviews and individual learning and development plans ensures the skills, knowledge and practices of educators are built on and their unique strengths, interests and beliefs are recognised and supported. As we all have different strengths and abilities to bring to our roles, development plans that include a range of strategies tailored to the diverse needs, strengths and interests of individuals is essential. This process can help build a picture of the strengths within the team, promote a professional learning community and identify knowledge gaps that need to be addressed, so that both individual and service goals can be achieved.
How do your performance reviews and learning and development processes support continuous improvement and promote learning and development?
To establish a professional learning community in your service, you may wish to consider the following strategies and tailor them to suit your unique context:
- Implementing a mentor/buddy system for educators and teachers which includes working collaboratively to achieve tailored professional development goals.
- Using critical reflection diaries to reflect on and share new knowledge and understanding gained from attending professional development sessions.
- Introducing tailored leadership roles with specific responsibilities to support a shared or distributed leadership approach, challenging educators and teachers and drawing on their knowledge and expertise.
- Taking advantage of the shift to virtual learning by engaging in readily available webinars, podcasts and tutorials and establishing communities of practice through online network meetings and workshops.
We have published case studies offering practical examples of high quality practice in children’s education and care services on our website. We encourage you to read the Quality Area 7 – Governance and leadership case studies.
An amended regulation came into effect on 30 July 2021 that outlines obligations for the sector under the National Law and Regulations in relation to displaying quality rating certificates for education and care services on their premises.
As we announced in our July 2021 ACECQA Newsletter, Education Ministers 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).
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.
This is important to avoid confusion for families, the community and the broader sector. If approved providers fail to comply with the regulation (reg 173(3)), they will be at risk of a compliance breach and a $2000 penalty.
On 7 July 2021 Education Ministers agreed to amendments to the Education and Care National Regulations (National Regulations) regarding the 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 a children’s education and care service.
The Education and Care National Amendment Regulations 2020 established new requirements for policies and procedures for the safe transportation of children, including requirements for risk assessments and written authorisations.
Further minor amendments have been made to the National Regulations to ensure the effective operation of the provisions relating to transportation and authorisations required for transportation under Divisions 6 and 7 of Part 4.2 of the National Regulations.
The amended regulations came into effect on 1 October 2021.
To reflect this updated regulation, an updated ACECQA information sheet on Safe Transportation of children in Education and Care is now available.
Approved providers can now access the following new reports via the portal. These reports provide information in a user-friendly format and allow for filtering, for example, by date range.
- Applications and notifications that have been submitted by a provider.
- Applications and notifications that have been submitted by a service.
- A listing of all current nominated supervisors for each service belonging to a provider.
- Statutory compliance actions, including show-cause notices, that have been issued to providers within the last two years.
Reports relating to the provider will be on the provider details page, and the applications and notifications report submitted by a service will be on the service details page. These reports are presented in Excel format.
Opening a new service can be daunting. There are numerous regulatory requirements to be implemented across all areas of the service in addition to the quality practices to be mindful of.
To assist with the process, we have developed five eLearning modules tailored to the responsibilities of the approved provider: governance and management, staffing, service vision, service philosophy and supporting your team.
While self-contained, the modules are intended to prompt further research and reflection, and to refer the reader to other key resources for additional information.
Funding for the development of the modules was provided by the NSW Department of Education.
Commissioned by Education Ministers, national sector stakeholders and all Australian governments have closely collaborated to co-design a new ten-year children’s education and care national workforce strategy to support the recruitment, retention, sustainability and quality of the sector workforce.
‘Shaping Our Future’ acknowledges and builds on the significant investment by all governments to date in workforce related initiatives, as well as a range of recent and ongoing initiatives launched by the sector. It provides a roadmap for ongoing collaboration and partnership between all parties, including governments, service providers, education and training providers, peak associations, regulatory bodies, educators and teachers, and their representative bodies.
The Strategy is structured around six interrelated focus areas and includes 21 actions to be pursued over the short (within the next three years), medium (within the next six years) and long (within the next ten years) term.
Work will now commence with all governments and sector stakeholders to co-design implementation and evaluation plans to guide collaborative efforts to achieve the strategy’s objectives. Representatives from all Australian governments and national sector stakeholder groups have been involved throughout the development process, and will continue to be involved to deliver the strategy over the next decade.
Thank you for all of the contributions from across the children’s education and care sector, including individual teachers and educators who took the time to ensure that their voices were heard.
You can read more about the development of ‘Shaping Our Future’ and next steps on the National Workforce Strategy webpage.
We strive to continually improve the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) and its usability and we’re inviting feedback from users through the NQA ITS satisfaction survey.
The annual survey focuses on system usability, the effectiveness of system guidance, and the quality of the support offered by our IT service desk.
If you are a registered user of the NQA ITS, you should have received a link to complete the survey via email.
If you are a registered user and have not received your survey link, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would appreciate getting your views through the survey.
Please note that the last day for completing the survey is Tuesday 30 November 2021.
Our latest blog post explores creative ways to maintain the relationships you have worked to build.
One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is how important community and connection are to a sense of wellbeing. With parts of the country experiencing extended periods of lockdown, many service teams are reflecting on how community engagement can be maintained during this time.
This includes how service teams can continue to support children’s sense of belonging by helping them to experience connection and engagement with the local community.
A new adrenaline injector is available in Australia for the treatment of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions)
Children with known allergies attending children’s education and care services may now be prescribed Anapen® for the treatment of extreme allergy and anaphylactic reaction.
Anapen® is a new brand of adrenaline (epinephrine) injector approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a comparable alternative to the EpiPen adrenaline injector in cases of extreme allergy and anaphylactic reaction. This decision addresses a long-term shortage of available adrenaline injector devices in Australia. On 1 September 2021 three doses of Anapen® were made available to the public:
- Anapen® Jr (150 micrograms) is prescribed for young children 7.5-20kg
- Anapen® 300 (300 micrograms) is prescribed for children over 20kg
- Anapen® 500 (500 micrograms) is prescribed for adults and children over 50kg
While the Anapen® and EpiPen devices are both used for the treatment of anaphylaxis and severe allergic reaction, the TGA has confirmed there are significant differences in how each device is administered. For this reason, it is important that parents, care givers and service staff feel confident using both Anapen® and EpiPen devices and are trained appropriately on how to effectively and safely use either device.
If additional training is required, we encourage you to check our list of approved first aid, asthma and anaphylaxis courses on the ACECQA website.
We also recommend visiting the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Anaphylaxis Resources webpage, where you can find a series of resources and materials to support the correct administration of Anapen® devices.
We have released the Literature Review conducted as part of the Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project. The review identifies areas of strength and potential areas for updating the national ALFs.
The researchers identified and reviewed more than 150 peer-reviewed articles on the Early Years Learning Framework or My Time Our Place – Framework for School Age Care that have been published since 2010. They also reviewed a broad range of international early learning curriculum and outside school hours frameworks and information.
The scoping framework developed from the Literature Review identified 12 focus areas to be examined to inform any updates to the ALFs. Findings from the Literature Review helped informed development of the Discussion Paper.
About the project
A national consortium led by a partnership between Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University was engaged on behalf of all governments to deliver the 2021 National Quality Framework (NQF) Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project. The project is being delivered over three stages.
To read more about the project please visit the Approved Learning Frameworks Update website.
From 7 February 2022 service fees, vacancies, quality ratings and inclusions will be published on our Starting Blocks.gov.au website.
This information will stop being published on the Child Care Finder website.
You may wish to start letting your families know about this change now.
Starting Blocks.gov.au helps parents choose the best education and care for their family. Families can:
- find local services and view their quality ratings
- get information and advice about education, children’s development, and parenting.
Having this information in one place helps parents choose the best early childhood education and care for their family.
What is changing for providers and services?
You must still report your fees and information as required by Family Assistance Law through the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or your third-party software. When reporting your fees you must report:
- current hourly or session fees before CCS, discounts or reductions
- any changes to fees (within 14 days of the change).
For help see the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your software provider.
What do providers and services need to do?
We’ll provide more information and resources to share with staff and families in the weeks and months ahead.
StartingBlocks.gov.au, our family focused website, is updated regularly with factsheets, infographics and resources for families.
These are available on the website’s Translated resources section. They are on topics such as Choosing quality services, Helping a child settle into a children’s education and care service, Understanding the National Quality Standard, Guide to the Assessment & Rating process and Developing children's positive behaviour in early learning services.
If you’re looking for translated resources for the parents, carers and families at your service, visit StartingBlocks.gov.au’s Translated resources section.