ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2022
For our final newsletter of 2022, a tribute to teachers, educators and service staff who have provided consistent education and development care for children this year. To say that there continues to be challenges through living with natural disasters, coping with the health pandemic and managing workforce shortages is a massive understatement so it is impressive that you, as an educational professional, remain dedicated to the children and young people with whom you work.
The status and social standing of early childhood teachers and educators in Australia is shifting as the community better understands the complex role of, and professional programs and practices in, approved education and care services. This enlightened awareness is evident since the pandemic highlighted the essential role and functions of early childhood and outside school hours care services for children’s wellbeing and their physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development that critically depend on playing and socialising with their peers.
Of course, recognising children as competent and capable learners who have rights and agency, we have included a short article on play-based learning and the intentional role you have, in partnership with children, in extending and enriching their learning. This article follows our previous articles on active play. Sharing your knowledge of the importance of play-based learning, and physical activity for overall wellbeing, with parents and the community is part of your expert educator role.
This month, in acknowledging the professional status of new and experienced teachers and educators, we include information about four new modules designed as part of an induction program or as refreshers for your ongoing practice conversations.
We also share some key changes due next year following the 2019 review of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and a reflection by an educational leader on her key role.
We know there is a strong relationship between collaborative leadership, teamwork and high quality educational programs and practices, so our articles are designed for your information and to stimulate respectful conversations about practice with peers and families. When educators and teachers share research, ideas and views through a culture of teamwork, they practise shared learning where all members contribute to each other’s professional learning and growth for high quality programs.
So, at the end of another extraordinary year, our sincere thanks for your commitment to children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Because of you, children and young people in your service have great opportunities to thrive.
Everyone here at ACECQA wishes you a safe and happy festive season.
New NQF Induction modules
An important part of professional practice is the quality of the induction process for new staff and the commitment to ongoing professional development for experienced educators and teachers.
Our NQF professional development eLearning modules were created in response to stakeholder advice given during the development of the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy.
With the start of the new year approaching and new educators joining the sector, these resources make a valuable addition to a service’s orientation information packages.
They can also be used by experienced educators to refresh knowledge and understanding of the NQF in promoting children’s health, safety, wellbeing, development and learning within the children's education and care sector.
There are four eLearning modules and each covers a different aspect of the NQF:
1. Introduction to the children’s education and care sector
2. Overview of the NQF
3. Law and Regulations
4. National Quality Standard
You can access these on the ACECQA website.
Our National Role
Another resource you may want to consider including in your service’s orientation information package or use as a discussion prompt in team meetings, is the following set of two infographics which outline the roles and functions of ACECQA and our regulatory authority partners. Despite being in existence for more than a decade, there still remains some confusion about our role and our relationship to regulatory authorities as defined in the National Quality Framework (NQF).
The NQF is the result of an agreement between all nine Australian governments to work together to provide nationally consistent high quality education and care for children and young people who attend education and care services. Collaboratively, governments, services and ACECQA aim to provide high quality children’s education and care.
We are the independent national authority guiding the implementation and administration of the NQF. We work in partnership with regulatory authority partners, governments and stakeholders in the spirit of consistency, best practice regulation and evidenced-based policies to achieve the NQF objectives. Our key functions include:
State and territory regulatory authorities have functions which include:
More information is available on our website and we also share regular NQF information updates on our social media channels.
Let the children play: Conversations about play
Play is not just the domain of humans, it is a universal concept. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity. The United Nations Conventions of the rights of the child, article 31 states that children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities. Play is a fundamental right of all children and play-based learning capitalises on children’s natural inclination to be curious, explore and test their concepts of their world.
Through play, children actively construct their understandings that underpin learning. In play experiences, children integrate their emotions and thinking, and strengthen their brain functioning and agency as they participate in decisions that affect them, including about their learning.
As early and middle childhood professionals, you champion the role of play as integral to the healthy development and well-being of children. Of course, we have an understanding that ‘play’ has multiple meanings so parents and families may need support to understand the potential and capacity that play provides for their children’s learning and healthy development.
Play is defined by the following characteristics: it is freely chosen, self-directed, pleasurable, meaningful, symbolic and intrinsically motivated. Playwork theorist Bob Hughes (2006) identifies 16 types of play including: communication, creative, deep, dramatic, exploratory and fantasy. These descriptors provide a useful starting point to explore our thinking on play and to critically reflect on established practices for play-based learning from diverse perspectives – the child’s, family’s and peers’.
The approved learning frameworks define play-based learning as a “context and a process through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects, and the representations”.
How we understand the importance of play will influence the support and opportunities we provide through our policies, programs, environments and practices.
- The National Quality Standard (NQS) requires that your service philosophy guides all aspects of practice. What does your service’s philosophy say about play?
- Is play on the agenda for discussion in daily reflections and staff meetings?
- Are educators advocates for play?
- Is your advocacy supported by theory and research?
- Does it reflect the voices of children and young people?
- How does the environment (physical and social) promote children’s play choices?
- Does the environment reflect and support children’s interests, understandings and agency?
- Are educators intentional in building their play knowledge and in improving opportunities for play?
The Guide to the NQF provides more reflective questions and guidance on play within the NQS. You may also be interested to read about the role of play-based learning, intentional teaching and intentionality in the Approved Learning Frameworks Update Literature Review.
Hughes, B, 2006, Play Types: Speculations and Possibilities, London Centre for Playwork Education and Training, London.
Changes to the NQF coming in 2023
Reviews of the National Quality Framework (NQF) by the nine governments of Australia every five years or so ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves its objectives and supports approved services to achieve continuous quality improvement by meeting the changing needs and interests of children and young people.
Key changes from the 2019 NQF Review will be implemented in stages throughout 2023 through amendments to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations. They include strengthened health and safety measures, changes to workforce requirements and improved oversight by regulatory authorities.
As a reminder of the key changes for centre based and family day care services, we have created brief video animations about the implementation of the 2019 NQF Review outcomes:
They are available on our social media channels and we hope you find them useful. Your feedback to email@example.com on this format will help us to develop new resources and please include anything you’d like to share about how you’re using them.
Working with and on behalf of all governments, we will be providing more detailed information and guidance to explain the changes including through our newsletter, our website and eDMs to providers and their services over the next few months. The Summary of the 2019 NQF Review outcomes table on the 2019 NQF Review website will also be updated regularly to share implementation progress.
Blog: The opportunity I never knew I needed
This month we hear from Natalie Youd, Educational Leader at Salamander Child Care Centre, who highlights the key learnings from attending the 2022 Early Childhood Australia (ECA) National Conference.
"This year I had the privilege to attend the ECA National Conference – Passion to Power: Our future profession, thanks to a scholarship from ACECQA. As we all know, personally and professionally, educators in the sector have been stretched and challenged to the extreme these past couple of years, wondering what the new normal would look like, let alone if quality face-to-face professional learning would be possible."
Natalie also shares:
"The educational leader role is complex. It looks different in every service. But networking with others, no matter what role they are in, is vital. It helps us learn about the spectrum of skills, knowledge, languages, and experience that make up early childhood in Australia. Get amongst it, be inspired and learn – then pass that on. Share your thoughts, find a critical friend, advocate for professional growth and learning. John C. Maxwell reminds us that ‘the more intentional you are about your leadership growth, the greater your potential for becoming the leader you’re capable of being'."
Evaluating Objective 4 of the NQF
The NQF Evaluation Framework provides an agreed way for governments to understand how the NQF is meeting its objectives. It also gives governments and sector stakeholders a common reference point when considering research activities.
Our own research and evaluation activities align to one or more of the objectives of the NQF.
This month we focus on Objective 4 of the NQF:
To improve efficiency in the regulation of education and care services, including the reduction of regulatory burden
We continue to contribute evidence to answer key questions about this objective under the evaluation framework, including:
NQF Annual Performance Reports
- This annual report has included a summary of NQF governance, reporting and accountability mechanisms (2017) and chapters on efficiency and cost effectiveness of regulation (2017 and 2018) and results of surveys on perceptions and experiences of regulatory burden (2017, 2018 and 2022).
- Earlier regulatory burden survey results were published in three separate reports (2013, 2014, 2015).
- This early childhood education and care chapter of this annual report includes indicators contributed by ACECQA and others relating to efficiency, effectiveness and equity.
Occasional Paper 3: Promoting consistency and efficiency under the NQF
- This occasional paper examined activities to promote efficiency and consistency of outcomes in the implementation and administration of the NQF.
- These reviews involve consultation with the education and care sector, families, peak organisations, and the broader community about the NQF. Findings from these consultations and outcomes from the 2014 and 2019 reviews are published on our Research and reports page and the 2019 NQF Review webpage.
Universities, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to the NQF evidence base by commissioning, undertaking or supporting research in line with the NQF Evaluation Framework.
You can find out more on our Research and reports page which also provides a wide range of NQF related research and evidence.
How to update service information on StartingBlocks.gov.au
StartingBlocks.gov.au is the national government one-stop-shop for families. They use our free government website to shortlist early childhood education and care services, view fees and quality ratings, and estimate out of pocket costs.
Service fees, vacancies and inclusions
Services can update these details via the Provider Entry Point or their third-party software. Please see the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.
Keep your service information updated on the NQA IT System as usual. This online tool offers providers secure direct communication with regulatory authorities and aims to reduce paperwork and duplication for approvals. Registered users can update service and provider details, lodge applications and notifications, and pay invoices.
Please update your communication products with old phone numbers like the My Child Hotline and Child Care Access Hotline or links to the former Child Care Finder with links to StartingBlocks.gov.au.
For enquiries relating to StartingBlocks.gov.au, please contact us.
Our We hear you blog has moved!
We hear you, the ACECQA blog, contains feature articles and guest posts from a variety of contributors offering unique perspectives from the children's education and care sector.
To make it easy to find all your sector news in the one location, we’ve moved the blog to the Latest news section on the ACECQA website.
To read the latest article visit We hear you.
Christmas and New Year period Office closures
During the holiday season, we will be closed from 12:00 pm (AEDT) Friday 23 December 2022 to 9:00 am (AEDT) on Tuesday 3 January 2023. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you shortly after the office re-opens in January 2023.
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