ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2017
Reflect, review and celebrate
The end of the year in most education and care services signals celebrations, preparation for transitions and a rush on finalising children’s records. Why not take the opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed, review what has been successful and why, and celebrate quality outcomes for children, families and educators? This could be an ideal opportunity to take a longer-range view and consider what quality improvements the service has undertaken since the National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced in January 2012.
Dr Patricia Fioriello, an author of professional development guides for the education community, promotes the value of structured review and reflection to check on process orientation. This review and reflection should be qualitative and descriptive, focusing on processes, procedures and programs. This is a timely reminder, as we move to a revised National Quality Standard (NQS), for services to consider how they structure review and reflection, and how quality improvement and educational program outcomes are measured, communicated and celebrated.
The NQS has reflective practice at its core, with a particular emphasis on continuous improvement, the implementation of the program, and the performance and development of staff. The approved learning frameworks state that a ‘lively culture of professional enquiry is established when educators, co-ordinators and staff members are encouraged to build their professional knowledge, reflect on their practice and generate new ideas’ (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 13; Framework for School Age Care, p.12).
The Guide to the National Quality Framework references an ongoing cycle of inquiry as a key reflective strategy to support effective self-assessment of service quality. Reflecting on how the service philosophy, approved learning frameworks, NQS, relevant theory and contemporary research are achieved in practice and processes allows educators to consider how they are focused on achieving the desired outcomes for children, families and communities.
A large part of reflecting is reviewing internal structures, such as policies, programs, orientations, inductions, team meetings, communications, plans (Quality Improvement Plan, strategic and business plans), and family and community engagement to ensure they are in line with the service philosophy and meeting expectations. In considering the longer-range view we mentioned earlier, another check might be to review how and why (or why not) these internal structures have changed since the introduction of the NQF.
It is important to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of children, families, educators and the service as a whole, and value the contributions of everyone involved. Celebrating your successes is a positive step towards creating an inclusive environment and opportunities for developing genuine relationships, as well as a sense of belonging and shared purpose. Below are some questions to guide reflection, review and celebration:
- How is celebrating successes built into your continuous improvement processes?
- How is information about high quality practice shared with children, families and communities?
- Is the process of review, reflection and celebration viewed by your service as an opportunity to advocate for children, early learning and the education and care profession?
- Is there opportunity to apply for local business awards, teaching awards or the Excellent rating?
- How do you contribute to a positive organisational culture through recognition and rewards?
- In what way does the service’s performance review and development policy and process capture ‘reflect’, ‘review’ and ‘celebrate’ components?
To help you prepare for the revised National Quality Standard (NQS) commencing 1 February 2018, and support you to critically reflect on your practices, programs and procedures, the Guide to the National Quality Framework includes questions that can be used as tools for self-assessment against regulatory and quality standards.
The ‘Questions to guide reflection on practice’ are located in the National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating chapter below the overview of each of the 15 standards of the seven quality areas of the NQS. Each set of questions addresses the specific standard, guiding you to consider the way your service is meeting the NQS. For example, the reflective questions for Standard 2.2 – Safety focus on the way your practice protects each child for supervision, activities, risk management and service equipment and materials.
The questions provide a guide for thinking about each quality area and its standards and elements, how your programs support children’s learning, development and wellbeing, and the way your practice and procedures apply the approved learning frameworks. Additional questions are included for education and care services specialising in programs from birth to three years of age, school age children and family day care.
The Australian, state and territory governments and ACECQA are committed to publishing more useful information about the education and care sector, especially information that relates to the quality of services.
Last month, we made another improvement to the information we publish on the national registers and Starting Blocks. These registers now show when a service changes its approved provider. This enhancement clarifies whether the current approved provider had responsibility for the service when it was last quality rated.
Since education and care services can change hands, the addition of the date of approved provider transfer allows families and others with an interest in a service to determine whether the service was given its quality rating under the current or former provider. Families may find this information useful in evaluating services – for example, the new provider may have a better reputation for quality, and therefore quality could be expected to lift.
ACECQA is also looking at other ways to publish more information in line with the requirements and objectives of the National Law, as well as the reporting capability of our IT systems.
If you have any ideas about information we could publish, please contact [email protected].
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of former ACECQA Deputy Chair, early childhood educator, internationally-renowned researcher, academic and champion of quality outcomes for children, Emeritus Professor Collette Tayler.
Collette made an unrivalled contribution to the development of the National Quality Framework (NQF), having elevated the importance of quality early childhood education to the national attention with her work on the OECD Starting Strong II: Early Childhood Education and Care report. Collette’s insights, wisdom and contribution are reflected in many of the resources, tools and guidance that have supported the implementation of the NQF and are resulting in quality outcomes for children and families.
Collette was a passionate advocate for children, with her reputation and achievements in children’s education and care unparalleled. Most recently her groundbreaking and internationally-recognised work on the E4Kids longitudinal study is informing best practice curriculum, program and policy development across Australia. In Collette’s words, “There are few social justice issues more vital than building a better life for all children, and a more prosperous nation.” Her contribution in this area will leave a legacy for decades to come.
During her tenure on the ACECQA Board from 2011 until the end of 2015, Collette contributed her immense knowledge, expertise and dedication to early learning and development in guiding the establishment and delivery of our educator qualifications, policy, research, and consistency functions.
As the Chair in Early Childhood Education and Care at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, her teaching and research focused on child learning and development, program effectiveness, and policy and strategy. This year a scholarship at the university named in her honour – the Collette Tayler Indigenous Education Scholarship – was offered to current or prospective Indigenous Australian students of the Master of Teaching (Early Childhood or Early Years). Donations can be made to the scholarship fund to extend this important initiative.
ACECQA remembers Collette and her tireless leadership, commitment and outstanding contribution.
Family day care services: How using only one brush can unfairly taint all
The family day care sector is in the spotlight regularly, but sadly often not for the right reasons.
In her latest We Hear You blog, ACECQA Chief Executive Officer, Gabrielle Sinclair, reflects on the quality ratings of family day care services and looks beyond the headline figures.
ACECQA Annual Report available online
ACECQA’s 2016-17 Annual Report has been published in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law.
The report details ACECQA’s work during 2016-17, including sector support to prepare for the NQF changes, delivering the NQF Evaluation Framework, enhancing the National Quality Agenda IT System, developing new authorised officer training and improving information for families and carers.
An assessment to 30 June 2017 of the implementation and administration of the National Quality Framework is also included in the report.
Recognising excellence in our sector
The Excellent rating, which is awarded by ACECQA, is the highest rating an education and care service can achieve. It is an opportunity for the sector to celebrate excellence, promote the value of education and care, and draw inspiration from accomplished practice, innovation and creativity.
Seven services have been awarded the Excellent rating since February 2017:
- Balnarring Preschool
- Alberton Preschool
- Canberra Girls Grammar School Early Learning Centre
- Wesley College Melbourne Glen Waverley Early Childhood Learning Centre
- Jindi Woraback Children's Centre
- Awabakal Preschool - Wickham
- AIS Caretaker's Cottage Child Care Centre
Additionally, five services were successful in their reapplications for the Excellent rating – Warrawee Care Centre, Chancery Lane Montessori Pre-School, CPS Children's Centre, Kindamindi Pre-School and Doveton College Early Learning Centre.
ACECQA congratulates these services on their outstanding achievement.
More information about the Excellent rating and how to apply is available on the ACECQA website.