ACECQA Newsletter Issue 4 2018
New guidance in the Guide to the National Quality Framework explains what a service must demonstrate for a standard to be rated Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS) from 1 February 2018. Exceeding the NQS for each standard involves meeting three themes:
Theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations
Theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection
Theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community
Professor Jennifer Sumsion from Charles Sturt University and Dr Jennifer Cartmel from Griffith University were among a panel of experts that contributed to the development of the guidance and have come together to discuss how it can be used by educators, providers and assessors, to understand and articulate practice.
Information and guidance on the Exceeding NQS themes can be found in the National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating chapter in the Guide to the National Quality Framework. Find out more in the Determining Exceeding NQS for standards information sheet and slide pack.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a high benchmark for all education and care services across Australia, encompassing seven quality areas that are important to quality outcomes for children and families.
But how can we also think about the NQS and its focus on quality as the standard for a positive organisational culture that values, nurtures and supports educators and staff?
This month on We Hear You, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) Chief Executive Officer, Gabrielle Sinclair, debates this question and explores four focus areas that distinguish quality service cultures and support education and care teams to flourish.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility are quality practices integral to the National Quality Standard (NQS). The 2018 NQS connects these practices in Element 3.2.3 – The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible, aligning sustainable practices with children’s learning.
While Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment is a logical starting point for considering these practices when services adopt a holistic approach, there are potential connections and support for children’s learning, development and wellbeing across the seven NQS quality areas. Services can engage with sustainability and environmental responsibility in practice across all quality areas in a number of ways, here are just a couple of examples:
- Quality Area 1:
- Basing the environmental educational program on children’s identity and culture, ensuring it is child-centred.
- Facilitating children’s agency through child-directed learning. The promotion of agency will support children to become environmentally responsible.
- Quality Area 2:
- Choosing sustainable options for health practices and procedures.
- Promoting healthy lifestyle practices, such as growing vegetables for meals or to share with families.
- Quality Area 4:
- Using professional standards and information from sustainability organisations to guide practice.
- Using professional standards and information from sustainability organisations to guide practice.
- Quality Area 5:
- Engaging in responsive and meaningful interactions with children to encourage critical thinking and problem solving about environmental issues. What does this mean? What could we do to change this?
- Supporting collaborative learning, whereby children work with, and learn from, each other.
- Quality Area 6:
- Building relationships and collaborating on environmental issues with families and community to ensure practices are relevant and meaningful.
- Engaging with interconnected geographical, social and cultural environments beyond your doors or gates.
- Quality Area 7:
- Considering service philosophy, policy and procedures that guide sustainable practice.
- Implementing professional development opportunities for educators and staff to support a deeper understanding of environmental issues.
A sustainability audit can help to assess your service’s current practices and contribute to the Quality Improvement Plan. Cool Australia has a number of useful resources, which can be found through a search under the keyword ‘audit’.
Another useful resource is our newly released Environmentally Responsible extension pack for our Quest for Quality knowledge game. The Quest for Quality knowledge game and extension packs are a great way to guide critical reflection, test your NQS knowledge and develop relationships through team building activities and discussion starters. Visit the ACECQA website to purchase a set or download the free game, extension packs and instructions.
To reflect the 2018 National Quality Standard (NQS), which commenced in all states and territories on 1 February 2018, we have updated our quality area posters.
There are individual sets tailored for centre-based services and family day care services, as well as outside school hours care services.
In addition, we have designed a summary National Quality Standard poster for all education and care services to use and display. This introduces the NQS, explains how a service is rated and what each of the quality ratings mean.
In updating the posters, we have taken the opportunity to create a fresh, new look and design which showcases each of the seven quality areas of the 2018 NQS for families, educators and service staff. We have also simplified the information on the posters to make them visually more appealing and to ensure they focus on the core component of a particular quality area.
To further support and encourage the conversations with the parents, carers and families at your service, we have also developed a new poster – What we do for your child. This family-friendly poster is an ideal resource for introducing new families to the quality areas of the NQS and explaining the importance of early learning and education for their child.
Display the new posters at your service to begin a conversation about the seven quality areas and the way they contribute to children’s learning, wellbeing and development.
In recognition of the important role the posters play in assisting educators to communicate the concepts of the NQS with families, from the beginning of May we will be sending a set of A3 posters to each service in Australia. Given the number of services across the country, we anticipate this one-off mail-out may take up to a few weeks to complete.
Following the mail-out, additional posters will be available for purchase – details will be announced closer to the time.
In the meantime, you can download the quality area posters from the ACECQA website.
On 1 October 2017, a number of changes came into effect for family day care (FDC) educators and providers to improve oversight and support within FDC to achieve better compliance and quality across the sector.
These changes include co-ordinator to educator ratios, the limit on the number of educators in a FDC service, and the approval of family day care venues*.
We have received a number of enquiries around these changes, particularly educator limits and venue approvals required by 1 April 2018. The Guide to the National Quality Framework and the Requirements for family day care providers and Requirements for family day care educators information sheets are useful resources to help understand these changes and requirements.
Key things to know include:
Co-ordinator to educator ratios
An approved provider of a FDC service must have a minimum co-ordinator to educator ratio to support educators. Co-ordinator (full-time equivalent) to educator ratios set out in Regulation 123A are:
- 1:15 for the first 12 months of operation, with immediate effect for any new services
- 1:25 after 12 months of operation.
The regulatory authority may impose the higher ratio of 1:15 at any time after the first 12 months of operation.
What if a service has a ratio of co-ordinators to educators as a condition of approval?
Existing conditions of service approval continue to apply for these services.
What if a service does not have a ratio of co-ordinators to educators?
For services without a ratio at 1 October 2017, the legislation includes a saving provision that allows the service to continue to operate until 1 October 2018, after which the 1:25 ratio will apply.
Limit on number of educators in a family day care service
Conditions on family day care service approvals will specify the maximum number of educators who may be engaged by or registered with a FDC service.
- As of 1 October 2017, regulatory authorities set these limits for new services.
- For all existing services, regulatory authorities will set maximum educator limits by 1 April 2018.
Approval of family day care venues
A family day care service may operate at a venue only in exceptional circumstances and if approved by the regulatory authority.
- FDC providers that already operate a service from a venue have until 1 April 2018 to submit a complete application to the regulatory authority for approval of the existing venue.
- This can be done as an application for an amendment of the service approval.
- The regulatory authority will make a decision on the application within six months of receiving the application.
- An existing venue (that was approved by a provider before 1 October 2017) will cease to be approved if it is not approved by the regulatory authority, or the approved provider does not apply for venue approval by 1 April 2018.
- All approved venues must be included on the service approval, either when the service approval is first granted, or later through an amendment to the service approval.
Additional, up-to-date guidance and resources for family day care providers, co-ordinators and educators are available on the ACECQA website.
*These changes will commence in Western Australia by 1 October 2018.
Are you an early childhood teacher, teacher, principal or educational organisation?
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is seeking your input into its national review of teacher registration. The review has been commissioned by all of Australia’s Education Ministers and will consider a number of aspects including:
- the operation of the current national registration framework
- improving teacher registration arrangements in Australia
- early childhood teacher registration
- VET teacher registration
- the transition of initial teacher education students into the profession and sector.
The national consultation is open from March to April 2018. More information is available on the AITSL website.