ACECQA Newsletter Issue 11 2020
Quality is always improving
In this edition, we again showcase the commitment of services, teachers and educators to continually enhance quality to improve outcomes for children and their families.
This quality improvement is evidenced in the data from the latest quarterly NQF Snapshot which reports that 82% of services are rated Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above – the highest proportion since quality ratings began in 2012 and despite a very difficult year for services and families.
We are also seeing evidence of continuous improvement in the second evaluation report of the Quality Support Program (QSP). The QSP was commissioned by the NSW Department of Education to help NSW services to achieve improved ratings with the resources developed for the program freely available to all services across Australia. The report found 95% of participating services improved their quality rating on NQS elements ‘met’ by an average of 10 elements.
As well as the positive trend in rating outcomes, we have seen first hand how services have worked tirelessly to keep their doors open, their premises safe and healthy for children and staff, and the education and care of children their top priority.
Despite these significant achievements, we have an ongoing challenge in assisting families, the public and the media to understand our sector and how the National Quality Framework works.
We have some resources to help including our Startingblocks.gov.au website which was created for families in 2015 and has been growing ever since. It was designed to explain our national quality system - in plain English, in accessible and engaging formats – and promoted on social media with some influencers. Did you know some key resources have been translated into community languages and we have added a series of short, early learning videos showcasing children’s experiences?
We have updated the Excellent Rating webpage and added inspirational stories from the newest services awarded the highest rating.
We hope this edition is helpful in conversations with your families when explaining the important work you do.
Helping families understand our national quality system
It can be challenging for families to understand the meaning of the National Quality Standard (NQS) including how to use quality ratings as part of their decision making when choosing a service. These resources from StartingBlocks.gov.au may also help you to guide your conversations with families.
- National Quality Framework - how can it help me? – how to interpret the NQF and use it to determine if a service is right for their child.
- A brief guide to assessment and rating – an overview of the process and answers to commonly asked questions.
StartingBlocks.gov.au is a good source to find information to build parents’ and carers’ understanding of the standards services are required to meet under the NQS. Our recently released series of quality early learning videos can also help families understand what quality looks like.
The videos feature the authentic and diverse voices and contributions of children, families, teachers and educators in services across Australia. They highlight unique and inspiring experiences, the development of supportive relationships, and the opportunities for children’s learning and development that are unique to quality early learning services and settings.
As we all know, our national quality system sets very high minimum standards even before a service is approved to open. There should be no doubt in any parent’s mind that their child’s health, safety and wellbeing is the highest priority.
Michael Petrie, our General Manager Strategy, Communications and Consistency, shares his perspective:
Much of my work here at ACECQA centres on how we can all best promote and support consistency across our national quality system. What I’ve noticed is that when services build on the positive relationships they have formed with families by explaining our national quality system, and why they do what they do at their service, it helps increase families’ awareness and understanding of quality education and care.
The meaning of the Working Towards NQS rating comes up in the media from time to time, and some of this coverage might lead families to seek reassurance from services. It’s critically important for families to understand that we are a sector of professionals committed to high quality so that we give every child their best start in life. We need to remind them that a service rating of Working Towards NQS is not a ‘fail’, and that the NQF is not a pass/fail system.
Services are well placed to be able to quickly correct any misinformation or misunderstandings families may hear about our national quality system. In addition to conversations, many services reinforce their communications with families with information about our national quality system through their regular emails, newsletters and social media posts. Our family focused Startingblocks.gov.au resources are ideal for this, and highly regarded by families.
Key messages you may wish to use in your communications:
We encourage families to visit StartingBlocks.gov.au to find out about quality early childhood education and care
- The Startingblocks.gov.au website provides an overview of the regulatory system used across Australia to ensure and assess the quality of early childhood education and care services.
- The Startingblocks.gov.au website provides plain English information and resources on quality early childhood education and care for families.
- Startingblocks.gov.au Find Child Care tool can help families search for a quality early childhood education and care service for their child.
A service rating of Working Towards the National Quality Standard is not a fail
- If a service is rated as Working Towards the National Quality Standard, it means that the service provides safe education and care and is at a point on its journey to higher quality in one or more quality areas.
- Our national quality system sets a high bar for services: they need to be providing quality education and care in all quality areas to be rated Meeting the National Quality Standard.
- Our national quality system is not a pass-fail system, it encourages every service to get better and better.
More children's education and care services than ever meet or exceed quality standards
Our latest quarterly NQF Snapshot finds 82% of services are rated Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above – the highest proportion since quality ratings began in 2012.
The proportion of services rated Meeting NQS or above has risen every year since NQS ratings were first published – from 57% in Q3 2013 to 82% in Q3 2020. This is powerful evidence that service providers, teachers and educators are continuing to improve the quality of their programs and practices to deliver positive outcomes for children.
In addition to detailed information about the quality of children’s education and care services, the Snapshot and interactive Online Snapshot also include data about temporary service closures related to the impact of COVID-19 and other aspects of service regulation.
On 2 April 2020, in recognition of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Education Ministers announced four critical areas for time-limited regulatory action, including the temporary suspension of assessment and ratings. This had a significant impact on the volume of new quality assessment and rating results in this report as the assessment and rating process typically takes around three months from initial notification through to the publication of the final ratings.
While the ratio of assessment and rating visits to all other visits has fluctuated over time, state and territory regulatory authorities have undertaken more than three times as many other types of visit as assessment and rating visits since 2017. The large number of other visits (which include checking and monitoring compliance with the requirements of the NQF) emphasises the significant amount of regulatory work that occurs outside of quality assessment and rating.
Key messages you may wish to use in your communications:
- More children’s education and care services than ever meet or exceed quality standards.
- 82% of services are rated Meeting National Quality Standard or above, the highest since our national quality system started.
Supporting NSW services in their quality improvement journey
The NSW Department of Education commissioned us to work with providers of eligible NSW services on the Quality Support Program. The program began in March 2018 and by August 2020 had provided support to the leadership teams of 272 services.
Our QSP team works with leadership teams of services rated Working Towards National Quality Standard (NQS) to help them improve quality by offering free tailored professional development and support, including service visits, online training modules, workshops, follow-up online and telephone support and other resources to support quality improvement.
Service leaders participating in the Program benefit from:
- advice and support to help improve on practice, increased understanding of the National Quality Standard, and prepare for their next assessment and rating visit
- professional development, including training for NSW registered teachers that can be credited to the NESA endorsed requirements for professional development and is mapped against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
- professional development for educators which helps the service meet the Leadership Quality Standard [7.2] for:
- continuous improvement
- educational leadership
- development of professionals
- opportunities to network and build positive working relationships with other educators and service leaders in their local area and throughout NSW.
We cannot speak highly enough of the program, process and especially our support officer. She was patient, supportive and understanding with the team and took the time to understand our service and what we needed ensuring that her support was specific to our mode of service delivery!! We have been telling everyone who will listen how amazing the QSP is!! Feedback from Mary Repole, participant of the QSP.
Read about these results in the evaluation of the QSP on the website of the NSW Department of Education.
Some key results include:
The free resources available on ACECQA’s website may be of interest if your service is rated Working Towards NQS.
The satisfaction survey for the NQA IT System closes on Friday 4 December 2020, so there is still opportunity to provide your feedback. If you have received the email invitation and are yet to do the survey, we’d love to hear from you.
If you are a registered user and have not received your survey link, please contact us via email at [email protected]
Currently, with every application or notification that is sent through the NQA IT System portal, a confirmation PDF is returned via email to the user in acknowledgement of their submission. From mid December 2020 onwards, the PDF will no longer be sent back with the email.
Users will continue to receive the confirmation email along with their application or notification ID for reference. Should users wish to access a copy of the PDF, it will still be accessible via the portal by selecting the relevant service or provider on the Home page, and then selecting the Submitted Forms button.