ACECQA Newsletter Issue 4 2017

We improve what we measure

In her first We Hear You blog as the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) Chief Executive Officer, Gabrielle Sinclair shares her thoughts about the way ACECQA works with its government partners to support quality improvement for every child.


Resources to help you understand NQF changes 

Four children wearing hats playing outdoors with an old-fashioned water pump and tray
ACECQA has released a number of new resources to support the children’s education and care sector to understand the changes (from 1 October 2017*) to the National Quality Framework (NQF). 
 
The new resources include:
Other helpful resources on the ACECQA website include:

Visit the ACECQA website for the full range of resources and for more information. 

*Changes to the National Law and Regulations will commence 1 October 2017 in all states and territories except Western Australia which will commence by 1 October 2018. 
 
The revised National Quality Standard will commence 1 February 2018 in all states and territories including Western Australia. 

Occasional Paper released

Family Day Care information sheet header including young girl wearing a sunhat

 

ACECQA has released an occasional paper, analysing one of the most challenging areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS), Quality Area 3 – Physical environment. The NQS assesses the safety and suitability of the physical environment, as well as whether it offers a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children’s learning and development.
 
Along with a detailed analysis of the requirements of Quality Area 3, the paper identifies Standard 3.3 (sustainable practices and environmental responsibility) as the most challenging aspect of Quality Area 3 for services to meet. 
 
To assist services to meet this aspect of the NQS, sustainable environments was selected as one of the focus areas for ACECQA’s Quality Practice Workshops which are run in conjunction with state and territory regulatory authorities. The highlights of these workshops will be available on the ACECQA website in August.  
 
Download Occasional Paper 1: Educational program and practice
Download Occasional Paper 2: Children’s health and safety
Download Occasional Paper 3: Promoting consistency and efficiency under the NQF
Download Occasional Paper 4: The quality of physical environments in education and care services

Quality improvement planning in your service

A group of young children and a female educator gathered around a tablet device
Ongoing critical reflection against the National Quality Standard (NQS) and continuous improvement within the service is essential to providing quality outcomes for children. 
 
The Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) must be updated annually; however, services should be aiming for continuous improvement and developing a culture of learning through reflection
 
In practice this means creating regular opportunities for reflecting and updating the service QIP; ensuring it informs decision making; provides accountability and direction; and an opportunity to celebrate achievements and communicate to all stakeholders the reasons behind programs, practices and changes. 
 
Gaining different perspectives and ideas from educators, families and children will support services to find out: 
  • what they do well and why (linking to best practice, philosophy, ethics and standards)
  • the value or benefit of the outcomes to all stakeholders
  • the effectiveness of service processes in contributing to these outcomes
  • areas for improvement.
Engaging with new information and research can help shape meaningful discussion with families and communities on how quality improvement is embedded across the service.

Documenting and sharing progress

Self-assessment and reflection are most valuable if they lead to action. It is important to record or reference your progress towards a goal, or even if there is a change in focus for that goal.
 
Key ways to showcase reflection and improvement:
  • if making minor changes or additions to the service philosophy, document any resulting change to policies and procedures
  • evidence any change in practice that leads to improved outcomes for children (for example, implementing the outcomes of an action research project)
  • document outcomes of the service’s self-assessment (for example, meeting minutes where practice is discussed, notes in newsletters, actions derived from feedback surveys). 
Consultation and collaboration with children, families, educators, staff members and the community will allow your QIP to be a dynamic and evolving document. It will track the changes in your service and the way your focus shifts in response to your ongoing learning and the changing needs of your service.

Between meetings

The QIP is a living document which you should bring out for discussion on a regular basis so it becomes embedded in your service’s culture. Many of us come up with ideas for improvement outside meetings and then forget them, so it is good to record your ideas as soon as they enter your head. Sharing these ideas with other educators and staff regularly might also help.

Integrating other plans 

Education and care services should consider a holistic approach when planning for quality improvement. This includes integrating and connecting other plans to the QIP, such as performance, inclusion, reconciliation, strategic and business plans.
 
Each of these planning tools should complement one another, assist planning for change, and promote continuous improvement through a reflective planning cycle. Each plan encourages educators to reflect on and enhance their practices in line with the approved learning frameworks.

The next step

Remember to keep the momentum going with regular reviews, updates and reflections at team meetings. Your QIP not only allows you to track your improvements and goals but it is also a plan that tracks your strengths and progress. 

Reflections for your next team meeting:

  • How and when is quality improvement discussed and documented?
  • How does the self-assessment process work and who contributes to the strengths of service practice?
  • How is the leadership and responsibility for QIP goals distributed?
  • Is everyone at the service familiar with the strengths identified through self-assessment?
  • Stepping into the shoes of an authorised officer, what do you think they would look for when determining if an element or standard was met?

Further reading and resources

Early Childhood Australia Professional Learning Program – The quality improvement process
Early Childhood Australia Professional Learning Program – Self-assessment, reflective practice and quality improvement processes
Early Childhood Resource Hub – Quality Improvement

Victorian Inclusion Expos

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Educators will have the opportunity to hear from ACECQA’s National Education Leader at the Victorian Inclusion Expos. Delivered by the Victorian Inclusion Agency, in collaboration with ACECQA and the Victorian Department of Education and Training, the expos will assist you in improving capacity and capabilities to ensure that quality inclusive environments are provided. 
 
Register to attend for $10 per person on the Eventbrite website. Download the invitation for more information. 

ACEL Early Childhood Conference 

A group of young children and a female educator gathered around a tablet device
The 2017 Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) Early Childhood Conference in Brisbane on 2-3 August will bring together national and international leaders, specialists and speakers in early childhood addressing opportunities for the development of professional knowledge. Focused around three themes – inform, create and realise – the conference will explore leadership in early childhood education, the development of knowledge and collaborative relationships in the workplace and much more.
 
For more information about the conference and registration details, visit the ACEL website

Annual fees coming soon 

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Annual fee invoices for the 2017-18 financial year will be issued by email by 1 June 2017. Use the National Quality Agenda IT System to check and update the contact email address that is recorded for your provider. The fee is payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures.
 
Contact your regulatory authority if you have questions or for more information.
 
 

ACECQA Enquiries customer survey

A group of young children and a female educator gathered around a tablet device
ACECQA runs a regular enquiries survey to track the experience of everyone seeking assistance and information. The survey helps assess ACECQA’s performance and helps us identify any areas that could be improved for the sector, families and stakeholders.
 
The latest survey results show ACECQA is most often contacted about qualifications assessment, the approved qualifications list, the National Law and Regulations, requests for resources and approvals certificates and notifications, with ACECQA’s Enquiries team continuing to build on the generally positive feedback received in previous surveys. The overwhelming majority of respondents were satisfied with the customer service they received, with 86% reporting being ‘somewhat satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’.
 
The ACECQA Enquiries team answers questions about the National Law and Regulations, including questions on qualifications and ratio requirements, as well as directing service providers to useful resources and the relevant state and territory regulatory authority for enquiries related to approvals, assessment and rating, and compliance issues. 
 
You can contact the ACECQA Enquiries Team on 1300 422 327 or email enquiries@acecqa.gov.au