ACECQA Newsletter Issue 13 2018

Season's greeting artwork

 

Season’s Greetings from ACECQA

Now that the festive season’s here and 2019 is fast approaching, we are reflecting on what has been successful and what we need to do more of in line with our own commitment to continuous quality improvement.

Our greatest successes have been possible through the partnerships and trusted relationships we have with our Regulatory Authorities, peak bodies, services, educators, education stakeholders and families.  These have been the foundation for our initiatives – reports, programs and resources – which are designed to help you give children a better start in life. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support. 

As we all know, early childhood education and care is a complex part of the Australian education sector, and our shared challenge is to resist looking for simplistic answers that could undermine the importance of the journey we are on to build high quality early learning and care.  The objectives and principles of the National Quality Framework remain contemporary and an inspiration for all we do together. 

In this newsletter, our articles highlight just some of the initiatives to which you have contributed through your perspectives, ideas and advice. In 2019, we look forward to continuing our work with you.

From all at ACECQA, we hope you have a relaxing and safe festive season, and a bright and successful year ahead.

Gabrielle Sinclair

CEO, ACECQA


National Partnership Annual Performance Report 2018 – the quality journey

Two children in out of school hours care outside painting

ACECQA, in collaboration with all governments, has released its second Annual Performance Report on the National Partnership on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care, which builds on last year’s inaugural report.

The report focusses on progress made during 2017-18 and provides analysis relating to a number of aspects of the National Quality Framework (NQF), including children’s health and safety; educational and developmental outcomes; families’ knowledge and access to information about service quality; and efficiency and cost effectiveness of the regulation of services.

More than six years after it was introduced in 2012, there are a range of indicators and measures that suggest the NQF is achieving a number of its objectives, while there also remain some challenges. For example, the report found that:

  • Quality improvement is occurring across the sector – the proportion of education and care services rated Meeting NQS or above has increased every year since the NQF was introduced. Furthermore, two-thirds (66%) of services originally rated Working Towards NQS improved their quality rating to Meeting NQS or above after reassessment
  • Families’ awareness and use of the quality ratings remains low – although family and community awareness of NQS quality ratings remains low, research shows that quality matters to parents and carers. Furthermore, the components of the NQS closely align with the dimensions of quality of most interest to parents and carers
  • Staff recruitment and retention remains an issue – maintaining a skilled workforce remains challenging, particularly in relation to early childhood teachers and for services located in remote and very remote areas
  • Overall support for the NQF remains very strong – overall support for the NQF amongst providers of education and care services has been consistently above 95% and remained very strong in 2018.

Read the full report on the ACECQA website. 


Your guide to qualifications under the National Quality Framework

Educator at desk working

Under the Education and Care Services National Law, ACECQA is responsible for determining the qualifications required for educators and early childhood teachers (ECTs) in National Quality Framework (NQF) approved education and care services. You can find the list of approved qualifications on the ACECQA website.

If an individual holds a qualification that is not published on the approved list, they can apply to have it assessed by ACECQA for equivalence. Before applying, individuals are encouraged to refer to the following resources:

  • Qualifications checker – the checker guides individuals through a series of questions, including some designed to identify whether they are recognised as qualified educators under former state and territory laws
  • Application process – the guidelines and requirements, and application form are all available, along with an eLearning module designed to guide individuals through the application process.

It is the responsibility of education and care service providers to ensure the qualification requirements under the Education and Care Services National Regulations are met, including first aid, and anaphylaxis and asthma management requirements. More information is available in the qualification requirements section of the ACECQA website.

Choosing a registered training organisation

When choosing a registered training organisation (RTO), make sure that the qualification you wish to study is recognised under the NQF and published on ACECQA’s approved list.

To find an RTO that is right for you, visit the MySkills website and review the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) fact sheet. Keep an eye out for organisations that specialise in education and care qualifications, and offer modes of study suited to your individual needs.

Take the opportunity to ask your prospective RTO questions, such as:

  • How is the training delivered and how long does it take? Typically, a Certificate III level qualification can take around 12 months to complete, with a Diploma level qualification taking around 18-24 months. If an RTO is offering qualifications in a much shorter period of time, ask them how they will ensure that all necessary skills and knowledge are covered. Remember that shorter, cheaper courses may seem attractive, but may not provide you with the level of skill and knowledge employers are looking for
  • What relationships do they have with local education and care services? RTOs with strong local relationships are better placed to offer high quality training placements where you will get to experience the day to day running of an education and care service, and where you will be effectively supervised and assessed
  • What qualifications and experience do their trainers have? RTOs with high quality trainers who have relevant and recent experience of the education and care sector are better placed to offer training that reflects the requirements of the NQF
  • What feedback do they get from their students and local education and care services? Undertaking a qualification at an RTO with an established reputation for high quality training increases your chance of finding employment
  • How do they recognise on-the-job experience and prior learning? Workplace experience and previous training and qualifications can contribute towards Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). If relevant, ask how this might be credited towards an approved qualification.

Making a complaint or reporting a concern about an RTO

If you are unhappy with the service provided by an RTO, the first thing to do is to raise your concern with the relevant staff at the RTO. Often problems can be resolved informally or via the RTO’s complaints process.

If you are still dissatisfied, you can contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) using the complaints section of its website.

Employers play a crucial role in vocational education and training (VET), by providing guidance and support to educators choosing and studying a qualification, and by offering work placements. Having strong links with local RTOs helps ensure high quality training, which in turn helps ensure a high quality education and care workforce.

By championing high quality and voicing concerns about low quality training, both to the RTO in question and to ASQA if necessary, employers significantly contribute to the success of the VET sector and the goals of the NQF.

Checking and identifying potentially fraudulent qualifications

In addition to ensuring the qualification requirements under the Education and Care Services National Regulations are met, education and care service providers should seek to assure themselves that the qualifications held by educators and ECTs are authentic.

Identifying fraudulent qualifications can be difficult, however there are a number of steps that can help determine if a qualification is authentic. These include:

  • inspecting the original documentation, if possible
  • obtaining a copy of both the qualification parchment and transcript, if possible
  • checking the personal information on the documentation is correct
  • checking that the documentation formatting is consistent and professional, and that the spelling and grammar is correct
  • checking that the documentation is professional, including any signatures, stamps, holograms, and background formatting.

If you have concerns about an international or degree level qualification, we recommend that you contact the educational institute that awarded it. Many universities and colleges have online systems that allow you to verify the authenticity of a qualification.

If you have concerns about an Australian VET level qualification, including whether it may have been improperly awarded or undertaken without adequate training and supervision, we recommend that you contact ASQA.

Any instances of confirmed fraudulent qualifications should be reported to the regulatory authority in your state and territory.


SkillsIQ training package review – have your say this summer

SkillsIQ logo

 The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) has commissioned SkillsIQ to review six children’s education and care qualifications, including the national Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

We encourage all employers and educators to take the opportunity to provide feedback on the revised training package.

The national consultation is open until Thursday 28 February 2019. More information, including the online feedback forum, is available on the SkillsIQ website.


Starting Blocks resources - transition to school and reading with toddlers

KU Lance educator reading with toddler

ACECQA’s family focused website, Starting Blocks, is updated regularly with downloadable resources for parents and families. 

The most recent additions to the website are resources on Transition to School and Reading with Toddlers.

The first resource outlines factors to consider to help prepare children for beginning school including the role that education and care services play in this transition, how to help children settle in their schooling environment and whether they will require out of school hours care.

The second resource includes contributions by Raising Literacy Australia and offers tips on encouraging a child to read, and managing to read with a toddler.

Visit the Starting Blocks website for a range of useful resources, fact sheets and infographics to share with your network.


Reflect, review and celebrate – now’s a perfect time

KU Lance educators and children sitting in circle

The close of 2018 is an ideal opportunity to pause, think back over the year that was, and reflect on how your service children, families, educators and staff experienced 2018 at your service.

For Australian education and care services, 2018 was another momentous year.  Changes to the National Quality Framework were introduced, and the 2018 National Quality Standard (NQS) was implemented. Nearly 16,000 education and care services across the country shaped the learning, development and wellbeing of more than 1.3 million children. These services supported 900,000 families and professionally developed more than 200,000 educators. Importantly, the quality relationships, interactions, environments and experiences that children were engaged in at each service helped to create the strong foundations on which their futures are being built.

As you pause and reflect on 2018, consider the progress your service, and each child, family and educator at your service, has made. What is the distance each has travelled? While measuring achievement at a point in time is important, it is progress over a period of time that captures life, development and change. Try to not lose sight of this journey during the flurry of end-of-year activities. Celebrate success and acknowledge progress. Even if the journey has been challenging at time, reflection on those challenges will provide valuable learning and potential for growth. 

Reflecting on the distance travelled this year:

For the children of your service: What do you now know about each child’s strengths and interests? What does each child now know and understand? What can they do? How are infants communicating? How are children with behavioural challenges expressing their feelings and self-regulating? What friendships and rich relationships have been created between children?

For the families of your service: What do you now know about each family? Are families confidently and seamlessly accessing your resources and support networks? Do families appear comfortable communicating with educators? Have Working Together Agreements been successful? How have they contributed to decision making in meaningful ways?

For the educators of your service: How has the pedagogy of each educator grown? What professional development (PD) has each educator undertaken and which PD components have they been able to implement?  How are educator teams working together and collaborating? Have mentoring relationships been positive? Has the mentee and mentor both grown? What has been done to support educators’ wellbeing?

For the service as a whole: Has implementation of the 2018 National Quality Standard been successful? What new partnerships have been formed this year? Have induction processes supported new staff members? Have you achieved your Quality Improvement Plan priorities? How has the educational leader been supported?

Consideration of these questions should inspire celebration. Acknowledge and share your progress with the service community, and celebrate together. Celebrating your collective achievements and moments of improvement supports wellbeing and helps to further connect your service community by building strong, positive relationships.

If reflection raises concerns, because growth, improvement or progress was not evident, consider why. Were there barriers, organisational or communication issues that challenged progress? If so, what can be done to overcome these or where can support be accessed? Engaging in the process of reflection is the starting point of progress, as it is the beginning of change.

Congratulations to you, your team and all the dedicated, committed educators, service leaders, educational leaders, approved providers and staff who have worked diligently over the year to ensure positive outcomes for children and their families.

Further reading and resources

ACECQA – Information Sheet – Developing a culture of learning through reflective practice

ACECQA – We Hear You – Review, reflect and celebrate: A story from the sector on celebrating children’s achievements

Australian Institute of School Teaching and Leadership – Professional conversations


ACECQA information sheets - helping you get started next year

ACECQA information sheet enrolment and orientation

This time of year is a great time for services to review their enrolment processes and a new year is a great time to reflect on the service philosophy when new families start. ACECQA’s information sheets are a great resource to help you with this.

Two new ones are now available:

An information sheet specifically for Family Day Care has also been added.


ACECQA Enquiries – we’re here for you

ACECQA enquiries team staff member

Our enquiries team is an essential part of our communications and engagement with children’s education and care services across Australia, and is often people’s first point of contact with ACECQA.

The team responds to thousands of public enquiries by telephone and email, supporting ACECQA’s mission to lead and monitor a consistent approach to the National Quality Framework by providing families, educators and administrators with clear and free information.

You can email enquiries@acecqa.gov.au or phone 1300 422 327 during business hours Monday to Friday (9am–5pm AEST).

We recognise the importance of having positive and respectful relationships with all of our valued customers, whether individuals, businesses or government agencies within our customer service standards: 

  • Providing consistent, accessible and accurate information
  • Responding to enquiries efficiently 
  • Providing a courteous service and open and honest interactions
  • Respecting the needs of individual enquirers

Phone calls received by the enquiries team remain confidential and are not recorded.

Information is only collected for purposes which are directly related to ACECQA’s functions and activities, and ACECQA is committed to protecting personal information in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

For more information about ACECQA’s Customer Charter Standards please see our Customer Service Charter.