ACECQA Newsletter Issue 15 2014
Educator-to-child ratios are an important aspect of structural quality that affect the provision of education and care. This has been recognised in the NQF with improved ratios.
A common misconception when calculating ratios in a centre-based service is that ratios are calculated on a room by room basis. Educator-to-child ratios are calculated across the whole service regardless of grouping or room configuration.
This allows centre-based services greater flexibility to arrange educators across the service in a way that more effectively responds to the needs of children.
Regulations 123 and 124 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations set out the minimum number of educators required to educate and care for children. Remember, state/territory specific requirements may also apply and these are set out in Chapter 7 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations for each jurisdiction.
Points to remember
Educators can only be included in educator-to-child ratios if they are ‘working directly with children’. This means that the person must be physically present with the children and directly involved in providing education and care.
To calculate the educator-to-child ratio for a mixed age group of children in centre based care, services are required to ensure that the ratio is met for the youngest children in the group first. The Guide to the Education and Care Service National Law and the Education and Care Service Regulations (pp. 89-90) provides practical guidance in calculating ratios for mixed age groups.
Educator-child ratios are minimum standards. Under the Education and Care Services National Law children must be adequately supervised at all times (s165). Ratios alone do not determine what is considered adequate supervision. At times services may need to provide additional educators to ensure children are adequately supervised. A number of factors need to be considered when determining if supervision is adequate. Further details can be found in the Guide to the Education and Care Service National Law and the Education and Care Service Regulations (pp. 65- 66).
When arranging staff, consideration needs to be given to the health, safety, education and wellbeing of children. All seven quality areas should be considered, for example providing children opportunities to develop responsive relationships with other children and adults as part of Quality Area 5, Relationships with Children.
To determine appropriate staffing arrangements educators and providers must use their professional discretion. The flexibility of these provisions allows services to explore innovative ways to meet the requirements in a way that suits the context of their service.
The Australian, state and territory governments are running consultation sessions testing options for potential policy changes to the NQF.
Part of the Council of Australian Government’s Review of the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care (2014 COAG Review), the sessions are being held in all states and territories in capital cities and regional areas.
Contribute to the next stage of the 2014 Review by participating in the Regulation Impact Statement consultation process. Register to attend a consultation session here or make a written submission, provide an online comment or participate in an online survey on the NQF Consultation RIS website.
Written submissions and a summary of the feedback received through the initial consultation on the 2014 Review can be viewed here.
Services across the country continue to meet and exceed the NQS. However, there are some situations where education and care services cannot meet certain elements or standards of the NQS or regulatory requirements.
In such circumstances, services can apply to their regulatory authority for a waiver. A temporary waiver for staffing is the most common waiver and applies for no more than 12 months.
If you were granted a temporary waiver in 2014 for staffing purposes and have not yet met the 2014 qualification requirements you will need to make another application before your temporary waiver expires.
Applications need to include:
reasons your service is unable to comply with the regulation/element
details and evidence of attempts to comply
what alternative measures will be put in place to meet the objective of the regulatory requirement for the duration of the waiver
strategies which will be implemented to overcome the matter for which a waiver is being sought; and
measures being taken to protect children’s wellbeing and safety.
Read more information on how to apply for a temporary waiver on staffing requirements. If you have questions about the qualification requirements, visit the qualifications section of the ACECQA website or contact our enquiries team.
For more information about waivers, including what elements, standards and regulations can be waived, see page 30 of the Guide to the National Law and Regulations.
ACECQA’s second set of workshops were held in Canberra at the end of October. ACECQA worked with the ACT’s Professional Support Coordinators, Communities at Work, and the ACT Department of Education to deliver the sessions to almost 200 participants over two days.
Both workshops were well received, with participants commenting on the benefit of sharing practice with other services and how this contributes to consistency.
The next set of workshops is being held in the Northern Territory in mid November, with sessions in Alice Springs, Darwin and Katherine.
Facilitated by ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, the workshops are open to all educators and providers, targeting those that are not yet rated or have been rated as Working Towards Meeting NQS.
ACECQA’s enquiries service answers educators and providers’ questions about the NQF. To help us help you, we ran a survey asking people who used the service about their experience. This is what they said:
80% of respondents had their issue resolved
80% were satisfied with friendliness of staff
77% were satisfied with the staff level of knowledge and the level of support provided by staff
76% were likely to recommend the enquiries team to a friend or colleague
74% were satisfied with the overall experience they received from the enquiries team
74% satisfied with the time taken to respond to the problem.
The survey will be repeated next year as part of our program of continuous improvement.
The latest Snapshot report, released last month, provides insight into Australia’s education and care sector and shows progress of assessment against the NQS.
As at 30 September 2014, the number of services with a quality rating had increased from 25% to 46% over the past 12 months.
There had also been an increase in the number of services Meeting or Exceeding the NQS, up from 58% to 64%.
Highlights from the Snapshot as at 30 September 2014 include:
- 14 486 children’s education and care services operate across Australia, an increase of 6% on 12 months ago
- 6772 or 46% of services have received a quality rating
- 36% of services rated Working Towards NQS overall were rated Meeting or Exceeding NQS in at least five of the seven quality areas.
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