ACECQA Newsletter Issue 3 2018

Female educator showing two young girls how to safely use a peeler

Self-assessment and quality improvement planning under the 2018 NQS

The 2018 National Quality Standard (NQS) commenced on 1 February 2018 across all states and territories. Services approved under the National Law will now be assessed and rated against the 2018 NQS. 

This provides the opportunity to consider:

  • the efficiency and effectiveness of existing systems and practices
  • how quality improvement goals, strategies and outcomes are developed, progressed, measured and communicated
  • opportunities for strengthening self-assessment and quality improvement processes. 

It is also an opportunity to review, reflect and celebrate the quality improvements your service has undertaken since the National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced back in January 2012. This review, reflection and celebration will hopefully lead to the identification of new goals and actions to affect change and continuous improvement.

What are the requirements?

The National Regulations (regulation 55) require services to develop a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) which is informed by self-assessment against the NQS and regulatory requirements. Regulation 56 requires a service’s QIP to be revised and reviewed at least annually (and at any time when directed by the regulatory authority). To comply with the regulatory requirements and inform an update of the service QIP, it is important to take into account changes to the National Law and Regulations that commenced 1 October 2017 and the 2018 NQS. (Note: In Western Australia, the changes to the National Law and Regulations will come into effect by 1 October 2018.)         

It is also important to remember a service’s QIP will always be requested as part of the assessment and ratings process. As the QIP is taken into account in determining quality rating levels, services should update their QIP to reflect the 2018 NQS to maintain assessment and rating preparedness.  

Tip: There is no prescribed template or format and no minimum or maximum length for a QIP. 

 ACECQA has developed an updated optional QIP template that allows services to tailor their service plan against the updated National Law and Regulations, as well as the revised standards and elements. 

Where should I begin?

Every education and care service is unique. Services will be at different stages of engagement with the 2018 NQS and will apply what the changes mean for self-assessment and quality improvement in different ways. There is no ‘how to’ or recipe for practice. A service’s QIP should tell a story of its strengths and priority areas for improvement. Every service’s QIP will be unique.

Tip: The Guide to the National Quality Framework provides additional information on the guiding principles of the NQF (pp. 10-11).

In making decisions about operating education and care services and working to achieve the NQS to improve quality at services, the guiding principles of the NQF apply. It is important to consider how you will reflect the principles in your self-assessment and quality improvement planning.

As a first step, it is important that educators, educational leaders, service management and approved providers have the opportunity to become familiar with the 2018 NQS, the related regulatory requirements and the Guide to the National Quality Framework. The National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating chapter reflects the 2018 NQS and outlines the assessment and rating process, including guidance on self-assessment and quality improvement planning. The Guide has strengthened the ‘observe, sight and discuss’ examples of quality practice for each element. The examples detail what the element might look like in everyday practice and the ways the element will be assessed. While comprehensive, the examples provided are not prescriptive. The NQS recognises that each service is unique and the ways in which elements and standards are met will be determined to fit each service context. The Guide has questions to prompt critical examination of service practice.

For the first time, new guidance has been published in the Guide outlining expectations of quality at the Exceeding NQS rating level for standards. A tailored list of indicators is included for each of the 15 standards. The guidance is applicable across all education and care services and is a useful tool for reviewing and guiding self-assessment, informing QIP development and identifying new service goals and priorities.     

The National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating Instrument, used by authorised officers to capture evidence to support the regulatory authority assessment and rating of the service against the NQS, is available to download on the ACECQA website. The instrument may also be a useful resource for services preparing for assessment and rating under the 2018 NQS, outlining the process and what authorised officers will be looking for during the visit.

The changes to the NQF and the introduction of the 2018 NQS provide a valuable opportunity to pause, reflect and rethink how self-assessment and quality improvement planning applies to your service. How will you engage with the changes to strengthen and refine professional growth, practices and continuous quality improvement? 

Further reading and resources

ACECQA – Information sheet – Transitioning to the 2018 National Quality Standard

ACECQA – Information sheet – 2018 NQS and other changes

Early Childhood Resource Hub – Self-assessment

We Hear You – Leading through change

We Hear You – Stories from the sector: Changes to the National Quality Framework

We Hear You – Are you exceeding the 2018 National Quality Standard?

We Hear You – Exceeding the National Quality Standard and articulating professional practice

Shared learning across the globe: An international sister school exchange program

Kensington Community Children’s Co-operative educator and children on a nature walk

In 2015, Kensington Community Children’s Co-operative (KCCC) in Victoria launched its sister school and staff hosting program with Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program, which has provided opportunities for educators and support staff to work overseas to exchange ideas, programs and practices, has also had positive and lasting effects on children’s learning and relationships with families. 

This month on We Hear You, KCCC General Manager, Sigi Hyett, takes us through the development of the program and its influence on the service three years on.

Ninety-four percent of education and care services have a quality rating

NQF Snapshot Q4 2017 cover

As at 31 December 2017, 14,687 education and care services – 94% of all services approved to operate under the National Quality Framework (NQF) – have received a quality rating. Excluding services that have been approved to operate for less than one year, there are fewer than 300 services nationally that do not have a published quality rating.*

These figures appear in the NQF Snapshot Q4 2017, available on the ACECQA website. Other findings include that more than three-quarters of services with a quality rating (77%) were rated at Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above. There is also evidence the quality of services is improving. More than 3700 quality rating reassessments have taken place: of the 2700 reassessments of services rated Working Towards NQS, 68% resulted in a higher overall rating.

*Since there will always be a small proportion of services (around 4%) that have only recently been approved or have only been operating for a short time, the proportion of services with a quality rating will not reach 100% at any one time.

What to do if you have concerns about a person’s qualification

Young boy drawing using a variety of coloured pencils

If you have concerns about whether a person’s qualification is genuine, it can be helpful to first determine if the qualification documentation is fraudulent, if the qualification may have been improperly awarded, or if it is a cancelled qualification.

Fraudulent documentation

Qualification documents that have been falsely created or altered are fraudulent. The qualification may be completely false or certain details may have been changed, such as the name, date or title.

The following may be evidence that a qualification document is fraudulent and may prompt you to ask further questions:

  • personal information is inconsistent
  • laminate, stamps, signatures and/or holograms are not professional
  • spelling and/or grammar is poor
  • text is out of alignment
  • font is inconsistent
  • poor spacing or crowding of words
  • the document is not professionally guillotined or appears hand cut
  • watermarks or security threads are visible in a photocopy or scanned version of the document (these should only be visible on original documents and are best viewed through transmitted light – i.e., light shining from behind through the paper)
  • background printing is not continuous. 

Most educational institutions are able to verify whether qualifications bearing their seal are authentic.

Improperly awarded qualifications

If qualification documentation is genuine, but you have concerns about whether the person completed sufficient training, the person may hold an improperly awarded qualification. While these individuals bear the qualification documents, they may not have the skills and knowledge you would expect from a qualified educator.

In these instances, you should report your concerns to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). ASQA takes complaints seriously and values feedback from the sector to inform its regulatory operations.

Cancelled qualifications

In some instances, ASQA* decides it is necessary to cancel qualifications that have been improperly awarded by a particular registered training organisation. If a qualification has been cancelled by ASQA, a person must not claim to hold the qualification. You may report a person claiming to hold a cancelled qualification to ASQA.

*In Victoria and Western Australia, there are also state specific training regulators – the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority and the Training Accreditation Council Western Australia.

National Partnership Annual Performance Report

Young boy climbing on a yellow frame

Last month, ACECQA published its inaugural annual performance report on the National Partnership on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care. The report analyses progress made against the objectives and outcomes of the National Partnership.

We will soon be turning our attention to developing a second annual performance report, scheduled for publication in December 2018.

If you have any feedback about the 2017 report or suggestions for possible content for the 2018 report, please contact the ACECQA Enquiries Team on 1300 422 327 or