ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2019
Welcome to the final newsletter of the year.
To say this is a busy time of the year would be to understate how frantic we can become as we prepare for the festive season and count down to the end of the calendar year. This month, we have included a few of our reports with a brief summary of what they contain so you can read various chapters or articles when you have time.
Thank you to all our readers and for sharing articles that you found interesting. Without a doubt, we believe that quality early learning and school age care are vital parts of a world class education system, and our purpose is to share that message – widely and consistently. The precious years of childhood are what we all guide and protect for the sake of each child and the future of our society. As Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths reflect in their book Algorithms to Live By, why are four year olds still better than million dollar supercomputers at cognitive tasks such as vision, causal reasoning and language?
We look forward to sharing more information, resources and stories in 2020. From all of us at ACECQA, please have a relaxing and joyful festive season.
We have released our third NQF Annual Performance Report.
With around one million families accessing almost 16,000 services, children’s education and care is a vital and growing part of Australia’s education sector.
Examples of quality improvement highlighted in this year’s report include:
- More services are meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS) than ever before – 79% in 2019, compared to 56% in 2013
- Educational program and practice, the most challenging area assessed under the NQS, has improved across all service types
- Services in the most disadvantaged areas have improved in their assessment and rating results, meaning children in most need are benefitting from increased quality.
The report also examines the ongoing challenges of:
- raising public awareness and understanding of service quality ratings
- attracting and retaining a highly skilled workforce.
Along with the report, you can access supporting resources, including an introductory video, slide pack and interactive content.
A reminder that, from 1 January 2020, providers of long day care services and preschools/kindergartens will need to have a second early childhood teacher or, alternatively, a ‘suitably qualified person’ when 60 or more children preschool age or under are being educated and cared for.
Services located in NSW are unaffected by these changes, as additional ECT staffing requirements have been in place for several years.
In October 2018, the ACECQA Board determined the qualifications that are required for a ‘suitably qualified person’, which you can find here.
Regulation 133 and 134 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations provide the full details of the additional staffing requirements.
We will email all providers and services when the updated Guide to the NQF is live on our website in early January 2020, and provide a plain English summary table of the changes.
The Australian Government has announced ongoing funding, to ensure that ACECQA continues to provide guidance, resources and support to education and care services to improve outcomes for Australia’s children and families.
This commitment by the Australian Government was welcomed by the ACECQA Board Chairperson, Ms Judy Hebblethwaite.
“On behalf of the Board and staff of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), I would like to thank the Hon Dan Tehan MP and the Australian Government for the decision to continue funding the Authority on an ongoing basis”, said Ms Hebblethwaite.
“Across Australia, we work with all governments to provide guidance, resources and services to support the sector to improve outcomes for children.”
“With today’s announcement, we look forward to continuing to adapt and grow our support of Regulatory Authorities and the sector in delivering a world class early learning and care system for Australia’s children.”
The Australian Government’s commitment involves provision of $46 million from 1 July 2020 to continue to support high-quality early childhood education and care under the NQF.
An important part of our work at ACECQA is providing guidance and resources to support the education and care sector. In particular, to help the sector to better understand and align their practice with the National Quality Framework and encourage conversations with families about the importance of quality care in both the early and school years.
The end of the year is a time to reflect, take stock and plan for the year ahead. With this in mind, we’ve been reviewing resources downloaded from our website that have been of greatest interest and use to our readers this year.
Here are the top five resource downloads for 2019.
Unsurprisingly, the Guide to the NQF was the most frequently accessed resource – with more than 70,000 downloads over the year.
Our QIP template is an optional planning tool to guide and support services develop and document their quality improvement journey. Across 2019, the template has been downloaded more than 44,000 times.
Released in March this year, the Self-assessment Tool is our third most frequently downloaded resource. The tool was developed in response to sector feedback to help service teams reflect on their practice against the NQS and legislation, and to plan for quality improvements.
Recognising the important role of the educational leader, our Educational Leader Resource was the fourth most downloaded resource. This resource is a collection of practical advice, resources, case studies, research, reflections and references to support new, experienced or future educational leaders.
Rounding out the top five is a Quality Area 7 information sheet focusing on the importance of establishing effective leadership (Standard 7.2) and the role of the educational leader (Element 7.2.2) in leading the development of curriculum and promoting a collaborative professional learning community.
As we step into the last weeks of the year, please celebrate your progress and reflect on the professional support resources and learning opportunities that have been most impactful. Consider if it is time to re-share these resources within your professional learning communities and how they can continue to support capacity building.
We’ve published our 2018-19 ACECQA Annual Report sharing our work across Australia, as the national authority.
Key projects from the past year include:
- responding to the sector’s needs by delivering new programs, services and resources, such as the Quality Support Program, the Educational Leader Resource, the self-assessment tool for services, and presenting at over 70 events and conferences
- supporting national consistency and better practice by contributing to the 2019 NQF Review and facilitating the national Regulatory Practice Committee and its working groups
- reporting on how the sector and regulatory authorities are achieving the NQF objectives through the publication of the NQF Annual Performance Report, occasional papers and our quarterly NQF snapshot
- supporting governments and employers in identifying and analysing the main challenges and opportunities in providing a high quality and sustainable workforce.
Earlier this year, Governments developed an Issues Paper to guide the first stage of the 2019 National Quality Framework (NQF) Review.
The 2019 NQF Review commenced with national community consultation and aims to ensure that the NQF is current, fit-for-purpose and implemented through best practice regulation.
From April to June 2019, feedback was collected via an online survey based on the Issues Paper and at 79 face-to-face consultation sessions held across the country.
Almost 1,800 survey responses were submitted and more than 2,500 people attended face‑to-face consultation sessions.
A Consultation Summary Report has now been released providing a snapshot of the feedback received.
Thank you for your valuable feedback during this first phase.
From your feedback, Governments are developing a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) to propose options for regulatory change. The CRIS will be shared publicly and feedback invited in the first half of 2020.
For further updates on the NQF Review, visit the NQF Review website. We will also share updates with you in future newsletters.
Our family focused website startingblocks.gov.au has some great resources to share with your families this summer including a guide to sun protection at home. There are also some top tips on starting at an early learning service for new families starting in the New Year.
Approved providers can apply for waivers from certain requirements of the National Regulations and the NQS. These include service waivers – which have no fixed date, and temporary waivers – which may apply for a period of no more than 12 months. Requirements that may be waived by a state or territory regulatory authority under the NQF are prescribed in the National Regulations. Pages 61 and 66 of the Guide to the NQF list those requirements.
All applications for service or temporary waivers are assessed on a case-by-case basis. A regulatory authority may request more information or may inspect the service premises or office to assist in deciding to grant or refuse a waiver.
An information sheet that provides examples of evidence that may typically be submitted by an approved provider in support of applications for different types of service and temporary waivers – covering staffing and physical environment requirements - is available on the ACECQA website.