ACECQA Newsletter Issue 4 2021

 

Educator and child using flash cards together

 

CEO Foreword 

Welcome to our April newsletter. We use this newsletter for two purposes: to bring you information about relevant issues nationally and internationally, and to highlight opportunities for shaping the future of early childhood education and care in Australia.

This month we have an update about the Australian Government’s 2020 review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE) and some reminders about forthcoming events such as the 2021 National Workforce Census. 

Our focus on inclusive practice is part of the sector’s strengths in recognising all children as successful, competent and capable learners, and ensuring early childhood education and care is delivered on the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity. We share the story of a Sydney based service that has put into action these rights and principles, and was recently awarded the Excellent rating. 

As you all know, there continues to be international debate about improving quality in early childhood education and care for all children and families. This is especially vigorous when considering the importance of high quality services for children with additional needs or with vulnerable backgrounds. The findings of the 2020 review of the DSE make for interesting reading with a focus on how the sector could strengthen support for children with additional needs.

In Australia, we should be proud of our National Quality Framework and the commitment the whole sector has made to continuous quality improvement. In international research journals, Australia is acknowledged for our “unprecedented quality work”. It is disheartening then to read the occasional media article that focuses on “failure” or implies that services are operating with children’s safety and wellbeing at risk because a small percentage of services are on their journey from Working Towards the National Quality Standard (NQS) to Meeting or Exceeding the NQS.

At ACECQA, we will continue to challenge these negative perceptions and share the very positive news of high quality through our publications and reports. 

In taking the time to read our monthly newsletters, we also hope that you will be encouraged and inspired to share with colleagues, families and communities your stories of quality programs and practices, and how they have affected children’s successful outcomes. Together, we can get well informed debates more attuned to how we keep lifting a very high quality bar.

Please share these articles if you find them of assistance. 

Gabrielle Sinclair

ACECQA CEO


Disability Standards for Education – 2020 review recommendations target awareness and capability building

Educator and child communicating together

The Australian Government’s 2020 review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE) has been finalised. The DSE support children and students with disability to access and participate in education and training on the same basis as children and students without disability attending preschool, school, vocational education and training, and higher education.

The DSE explain the responsibilities education providers have under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). They do not currently apply to ‘child care’ providers, but these providers must still follow the DDA.

In this context, the 2020 DSE review examined the extent to which families, educators and early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers know about, understand and comply with existing rights and responsibilities, and what more might need to be done to promote inclusive access and participation.

The Australian Government’s final report has made the following recommendations specifically focused on building awareness and capability in the ECEC sector, including outside school hours care (OSHC):

  • develop products for parents and carers about the rights of children with disability in ECEC
  • work with state and territory governments to develop resources for ECEC providers and make sure providers know about and understand the DDA
  • work with state and territory governments to make sure that the rules and policies that apply to ECEC providers align with the DDA
  • by 2023, prepare draft amendments to the DSE to include ECEC and consult the sector about the changes.

The summary document also provides a high level overview on how the recommendations relate to ECEC.

ACECQA’s 2020 DSE Review consultation summary report now available

To inform the Australian Government’s 2020 review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE), ACECQA coordinated stakeholder consultation on behalf of all governments with providers, peak bodies and other sector professionals about levels of knowledge, understanding and application of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

Our summary report containing stakeholder engagement findings is now available. Key findings include:

  • that barriers exist to the effective access and participation of children with disability in children’s education and care, with more needing to be done to raise awareness of the DDA and promote inclusive access and participation for children with disability. There is a need for greater clarity and guidance for service providers about what constitutes a ‘reasonable adjustment’ and ‘unjustifiable hardship’ in early childhood education and care  and school age education and care
  • a majority view that the National Quality Framework (NQF) has helped increase awareness and understanding of what constitutes effective inclusive practice in a way that caters for need – and builds on strengths – at the individual child level.

View the Summary Report

View the Appendices

The Australian Government’s 2020 DSE Review has now been finalised and the recommendations offer a great opportunity to build upon our collective efforts to support children with disability to access and participate in children’s education and care. 

Thank you to those who offered their time and perspectives to shape the outcomes of the review. 


Consultation on a ten year national workforce strategy

Two educators looking at a document together

In December 2019, Education Ministers endorsed the development of a new national workforce strategy as a joint partnership between all governments, the children‘s education and care sector, and other key stakeholders. ACECQA, on behalf of all governments, is coordinating the development of the new strategy.

Throughout May 2021, we want your views on actions and initiatives that you believe will assist in improving the supply, retention and quality of the sector workforce. It is important to emphasise that the success of the national workforce strategy will rest on meaningful collective action from all stakeholders. It is also important to emphasise that the potential opportunities for collective action included in the consultation document are suggestions only at this stage – they are not exhaustive, and require further consideration, discussion and agreement on timescales, roles, responsibilities and implementation.

This consultation period will provide valuable feedback to inform that process.

For more detail, and to read the consultation document, complete the online feedback survey, and register for an online information session, visit our National Workforce Strategy page.

Update of the NQF Approved Learning Frameworks to now commence

Two children playing together

A national consortium led by a partnership between Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University has been engaged by ACECQA – on behalf of all governments – to deliver the 2021 National Quality Framework (NQF) Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project.

In late 2020, Education Council commissioned an update of the two nationally Approved Learning Frameworks – Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Framework for Australia and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia.

As these frameworks have been in use for close to a decade, the purpose of this update is to ensure they continue to reflect contemporary developments in practice and knowledge, while supporting educators to promote the wellbeing, learning and development of each child.

Work on the project will now commence, with the consortium designing and leading a stakeholder feedback and engagement process from May 2021. There will be opportunities for the sector to provide feedback over the coming months, and more information about the process will be provided.

The Terms of Reference for the update are available on the Education Council website.


Education Ministers decisions on transitional workforce provisions

Three educators looking at a booklet together

Ministers want to provide certainty about the transitional workforce provisions in the Education and Care Services National Regulations which are due to expire in some jurisdictions at the end of this year. Ministers recognise that workforce challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Accordingly, Ministers have agreed to extend and align the transitional provisions until the end of 2023, where jurisdictions have identified this need, as outlined in the table below. In addition, for some provisions the aim is to develop an ongoing evidence-based regulatory approach, prior to their expiry. Ministers will amend the relevant National Regulations before the end of this year to give effect to these decisions.

Ministers acknowledged the immense efforts of the early childhood education and care workforce across Australia in 2020. They commended their resilience and dedication during unprecedented and uncertain times, highlighting their essential role in ensuring children’s ongoing learning and development, workforce participation and in re-building the economy.

Ministers noted the work continues on the development of the Children’s Education and Care National Workforce Strategy. This ten-year strategy is being co-designed with key sector stakeholders to address some of the fundamental and enduring workforce challenges which have required the ongoing use of the transitional provisions. A public consultation process has commenced with a Strategy due to be submitted to Ministers in mid to late 2021 for consideration and endorsement.

If you have any queries about the table below which are specific to a state or territory, please contact the relevant Regulatory Authority.

Regulation Expiry date of 31 December 2021 Expiry date of 31 December 2023

Regulation 239A
Attendance of an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) at a service in remote or very remote location.

QLD NT, WA, NSW, SA, TAS

Regulation 240
Qualification requirements for educators working in remote and very remote services.

QLD WA, SA, TAS

Regulation 242*
Persons taken to be an ECT.

QLD NT, WA, ACT, NSW, SA, TAS

Regulation 264
General qualifications for educators in centre based services.

  ACT

Regulations 386, 390, 392, 394**
Resignation of an ECT.

QLD ACT, TAS, WA, SA

Regulations 405, 407, 409, 411**
Resignation of a Suitably Qualified Person.

QLD ACT, TAS, WA, SA

Please note:

None of these transitional provisions apply in Victoria.

*Regulation 242 does not apply in NSW for educators working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under.

**South Australia will adopt both the substance and timing of the existing jurisdiction-specific regulations which apply regulation 135 as if the reasons for an ECT to be absent included resignation until the end of 2023.


Inclusion and advocacy in services

Person holding lit lightbulb in hands with text 'Innovation' written over the top

We recently awarded Belrose Community and Children’s Centre the Excellent rating. Among other achievements, the Sydney based service was recognised for practices and environments that promote inclusive partnerships to enhance each child’s educational and developmental trajectory.

The service undertook a review and update of its philosophy, with an emphasis on perspectives for inclusion. Children and families were seen as crucial to the review and were actively engaged from the beginning of the process. Through the use of creative arts and visual vlog learning experiences, the children were active participants, having their voices heard and sharing their vision for the service.

The updated philosophy is displayed at the service, alongside a collection of the contributions made by children and families during the review and update process. The display captures the collaborative partnerships and voices of the service’s staff, children and families.

Another exceptional practice included their advocacy for, and participation in, a local social inclusion initiative called Play for All – Swing. This involved advocating, and getting approval for, all local park swings to be replaced with high backed swings and supporting features to cater for each child’s capabilities, including those who have low muscle tone.

Belrose Community and Children’s Centre established the collaborative partnership between the service, the project and Northern Beaches Council, sharing their expertise in child development and leading the initial trial phase of the project.

You can read more about the exceptional practices of Excellent rated services on our website.


2021 National Workforce Census

Image of child looking through magnifying glass with text 'Research' on top

The fourth Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census is being held in April and May for:

  • all child care providers approved under Family Assistance Law
  • dedicated preschools in all states and territories.

The Australian Government is collecting information on:

  •  service use
  •  children with additional needs
  •  access to preschool programs
  •  staff details, including staff demographics, types of work, qualifications, experience, and current study.

Why is this census important?

This information provides a national overview of the early childhood education and care workforce. It will inform decisions by government such as the new National Workforce Strategy, so that providers can continue to provide quality education and care while supporting parents to participate in the workforce.

How do I get involved?

The Social Research Centre is conducting the census on behalf of the Australian Government. The Centre has contacted providers about registering for the National Workforce Census. The Centre contacted vacation care providers in February and all other providers and preschools in March.

You can register or login for the National Workforce Census on the Social Research Centre website then enter the information provided to you by the Social Research Centre.


Managing children’s special health needs in services

Children and educator looking at abacus with text StartingBlocks.gov.au on top

StartingBlocks.gov.au has produced a resource for families on managing children’s special health needs in children's education and care services. We have provided information on how families can work with services to support their child to be safely and respectfully included.

Using a children’s education and care service may feel daunting for families with children with special health needs. Sharing this resource with them may be helpful and guide them in providing information to ensure their child’s needs are met, including:

  • explaining their child’s health needs during the enrolment process
  • providing details of any health professionals working with their child
  • providing individualised health plans for their child and details of how to administer any medications.

You can find many useful resources to share with your service families and communities on our StartingBlocks.gov.au website.