ACECQA Newsletter Issue 2 2021
In these first few months of 2021, it is evident that services are staying positive while planning for the year ahead with their children, families and staff. The latest data on service quality shows us that services are committed to improving their programs and practices to deliver quality outcomes for children.
We are also pleased to have received a large growth in the number of applications for the highest rating of Excellent. This is always a sign of more services dedicating time and effort in articulating their commitment to exceptional practices and programs: the principle of continuous quality improvement that underpins the National Quality Framework (NQF).
In this month’s newsletter, we showcase one service’s approach to exceptional practice in dedication to their staff as proof of the research that shows the strong relationship between Governance and leadership (Quality Area 7) and Educational program and practice (Quality Area 1). I’m pleased to be sharing stories about what high quality services do in this month’s edition, and look forward to sharing more in all our newsletters this year.
We often see commonalities in services that have achieved the Excellent rating. These include their philosophies and practices about both children and leadership.
When children and their families are recognised and encouraged to act as equal partners, the quality of programs is lifted. We see great innovative practices which enable busy families to be involved in planning and decision making, and amazing ways in which teachers and educators support the voices of children, extending on their interests and respecting their choices.
In terms of leadership, the most effective services share the strengths, and build on the interests and skills, of their teachers and educators. When leadership opportunities are shared, we see higher rates of commitment by staff, more creative practices, longer continuity of service and closer relationships between educators and children.
Nationally, you’ll note another round of 2019 NQF Review consultations is starting and your feedback is encouraged and valued. These regular reviews every five years ensure that the regulatory system supported by all Australian governments remains current and continues to lift quality of practice.
Welcome to our February edition and trust you will find something of interest to reflect on and share with your colleagues.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) views children as capable learners who actively construct their own understandings and contribute to others’ learning. The NQF recognises children’s agency, their capacity to initiate and lead learning, and their right to participate in decisions that affect them, including their learning (The Guide to the NQF, pg 10.)
Recognising and respecting children as active participants and capable decision makers enables educators to move beyond pre-conceived limitations about what children can achieve or are capable of doing. Great educators respect and encourage each child’s unique qualities, interests and abilities, and either plan for or recognise opportunities for child-directed learning. A simple strategy to do this is to invite children to be decision makers. This builds on the concepts of belonging, being and becoming.
Self-esteem contributes to the development of identity, and is critical to children’s capacity to understand their own strengths, abilities and interests. When children feel safe, secure and supported, they develop confidence to explore and learn (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 20; Framework for School Age Care, p. 19).
No doubt you are thinking about your aspirations for children in your service for the year ahead. Individually or as a team, some questions to consider include:
- How are each child’s strengths, unique qualities and abilities identified and recorded?
- How is this information used for each child?
- With whom is this information shared and how does it contribute to the learning outcomes for children?
- What strategies can be used to engage and capture the voice of non-verbal children and infants?
- How will each child be encouraged to be part of and lead their own learning?
By viewing each child as capable and competent, we will maximise the myriad of opportunities and possibilities that arise in the year ahead to support their agency, development, self esteem and confidence.
Another round of review consultations is starting now.
We’re seeking your feedback on the 2019 National Quality Framework (NQF) Review Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS).
The 2019 NQF Review aims to ensure that the regulatory system supported by all Australian governments remains current and continues to lift quality of practice.
This is an opportunity for families, educators, providers of education and care services, and the broader community to have their say on the future regulation of quality education and care services in Australia.
During March and April 2021, you can visit the NQF Review website to:
- Complete an online survey or make a written submission
- Register to attend an information session to learn about the CRIS and how you’ll be able to have your say. Governments across Australia will be running these online and/or through COVID-safe events.
Your feedback will help governments consider the risks, benefits and costs of changing the NQF.
Following this consultation process, governments will work to develop final recommendations in a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) for Ministers’ consideration and endorsement.
All feedback will be carefully considered, and endorsed options will be implemented through changes to the national law and regulations.
For more information, please visit the NQF review website.
Our Enquiries Team provides a free service for all providers, management, service staff and the community in helping to understand and work with the National Quality Framework.
In January, many services reset for the year ahead and this was reflected in the enquiries we received. We’d like to share some of the resources we use to respond to those enquiries and hope you find them useful.
- Services must ensure that their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is updated at least annually. The QIP should reflect a service's unique context, including the needs and interests of children, families and the wider community. The Quality Improvement Plan page on the ACECQA website has an optional QIP template, and an information sheet called Developing and reviewing your Quality Improvement Plan, that may be helpful when working on a QIP.
- Educators often ask how best to implement elements of the National Quality Standard (NQS). As each service is unique, there is no one way to provide education and care that meets the NQS. There are lots of National Quality Standard resources on our website. Select the resources tab for each quality area to find useful information that could help your service meet the needs of your unique context and the NQS.
- After an AGM, Approved Providers may need to change members of their committee and update the NQA IT System. Generally, executive members of a committee are persons with management or control (PMCs). To add and/or remove PMCs, registered users of the National Quality Agenda Information Technology System (NQA IT System) can login and use form PA08 Notification of Change of Information About Approved Provider. Instructions about how to do this, as well as how to complete other forms in the NQA IT System, are in the User Guide on the NQA IT System page of the ACECQA website. This page also includes other resources, like how to create an account, and how to make emergency notifications.
As always, you are welcome to contact us at [email protected] or on 1300 422 327.
Our latest quarterly National Quality Framework Snapshot, released on 4 February, finds two-thirds of children’s education and care services that were previously rated Working Towards National Quality Standard (NQS) are now rated Meeting NQS or above.
The report also finds 84% of services are rated Meeting NQS, Exceeding NQS or Excellent – a substantial increase from 57% in 2013 when quality ratings were first published.
Almost 12,000 quality rating reassessments have taken place, with almost half of these being for services rated Working Towards NQS. Of these services, 66% improved their overall quality rating after reassessment. Many services rated Working Towards NQS are close to being rated Meeting NQS. For example, 41% of services rated Working Towards NQS received that rating due to not meeting only one or two of the seven quality areas of the NQS.
This report is an endorsement of the hard work of service providers, leaders, teachers and educators in early childhood education and school age care services across Australia. It shows that services are committed to improving their programs and practices to deliver quality outcomes for children.
Together with governments, we contribute to the annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), which provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia.
The early childhood education and care chapter of RoGS 2021 was released on 2 February. It contains data on the quality of NQF approved education and care services and compliance measures, including serious incidents that occurred at approved services and the number of confirmed breaches of the National Law and Regulations.
There is also information contributed by other organisations on the size, scope and funding of the education and care sector and performance indicators relating to participation, cost and demand for services.
AIS Caretaker’s Cottage Child Care Centre was recently re-awarded the Excellent rating for the third time. The Canberra-based service was recognised for its innovative approach to positive workplace culture and organisational values, sustained commitment to professional development and support of educators.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the service implemented new ways of working for their employees. They created a remote learning coordinator role which assisted a teacher to continue working with children, while also caring for their family at home. The role supported children’s ongoing learning and continued relationships between children and educators accessing the service onsite and online from home.
As the number of children attending the service began to drop, the service encouraged and supported staff to take short term secondment roles across the organisation and experience employment opportunities outside of the service. One staff member who returned after a four month secondment with the IT department, communicated feeling motivated as they had the opportunity and space in which to develop professionally.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the service supported an educator to achieve their professional goal of completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. The staff member moved from full time to part time employment to balance their role of teaching early childhood students, and working at the service. This meant the educator also had the opportunity to share what other services were doing, which allowed the service to reflect on, expand and adapt their own practices.
After attending professional development on the need to visualise the connection families have with their child, the service developed the ‘Stay and Play’ and ‘Leave and Play’ sessions for their orientation program. The sessions support educators to observe family dynamics and care practices, personalised family rituals and routines, and the way language and communication is used by families and children. The sessions have resulted in:
- Supporting children to see that their family is building trusting relationships with educators and teachers, and becoming comfortable staying at the service.
- Families and children developing a greater sense of belonging within their own time, as they chose how many sessions they needed or wanted to attend.
- Children experiencing consistency of family rituals and routines between family members and educators and teachers, which promotes the service as an extension of the home environment.
- Establishing secure educator moments once the child begins to feel confident.
Services that receive ‘Exceeding National Quality Standard’ in all seven quality areas can apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating. The Excellent rating is awarded for three years. After this time services have the option to re-apply.
All children develop at different rates, and families often come to educators for reassurance that their child is on the right track.
StartingBlocks.gov.au has information available for families on children’s development. They include physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language cues families can observe.
You may like to share these resources with your families and communities: