ACECQA Newsletter Issue 5 2019

Educator playing with children in paint



Our monthly newsletter is written as a reliable and free source of information to help you as an education and care professional. We realise you are extremely busy and that the sources of information available to you are far beyond the ability of one person to keep up with – at least in one lifetime.

But it is important to have time to reflect, to be challenged in our thinking, to bring to light some misconceptions and to hear about what is happening in our sector and the broader education field in Australia.

As CEO, I have the privilege of meeting educators and staff working in services and schools right across the country. I have heard that many are concerned about their ability to reach high benchmarks in their quality improvement journey and their preparations for the assessment and rating (A&R) process. Without exception, everyone wants to do the best they can for their children, their families and colleagues. 

At ACECQA, we are committed to listening to, and acting on, these concerns and working with state and territory regulatory authorities to support and promote quality and consistency. While ACECQA does not assess and rate services – this is the responsibility of the regulatory authority in each state and territory – we contribute to consistency by training, testing and supporting around 350 authorised officers, preparing guidance and support materials and resources for the sector, and hosting national committees of regulatory authority representatives in our shared goal of better practice.

In this month’s newsletter, we have the latest data about the continuous quality improvement journey for almost 16,000 approved services, some new free resources, a short article explaining the change to Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS) and, to start, an article on the importance of outdoor learning environments.

Please feel free to dip in and out of our articles. Share what will help your service or school, debate and challenge perceptions and knowledge, and please click on the links attached to the articles. As Irene Gunning from Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) observed, once the mind has been opened, there is no turning back.

Seven metres squared

Children outdoor play in garden Isabella Plains

In addition to promoting physical activity, engaging outdoor learning environments play a significant role in the development of children’s behavioural and social skills.

This month on We Hear You, we explore the importance of outdoor play in a world that is becoming increasingly technological and outline the requirements for outdoor environments in education and care services.

25th NQF Snapshot highlights sustained quality improvement

Children painting and smiling

Our 25th NQF Snapshot report highlights sustained improvement in the quality of children’s education and care.

The proportion of services rated Meeting NQS or above has risen markedly over the last six years, from 56% in 2013, to 69% in 2016, to 79% in 2019.

Many services have been quality rated more than once, and the results of these reassessments show strong evidence of continuous improvement in service quality. More than 7200 quality rating reassessments have been undertaken. Two‑thirds (66%) of services previously rated Working Towards NQS improved their overall quality rating after reassessment.

Our NQF Snapshot provides analysis and information on the profile of the education and care sector, the quality ratings of services, and the distribution of ratings by service type, provider management type and geographic location.

Exceeding National Quality Standard

Exceeding rating logo

During 2018, ACECQA supported the sector and regulatory authorities on changes to the National Quality Standard (NQS).

Among these changes was a revised approach to how the Exceeding NQS rating level is calculated.

From February 2018 every standard in a quality area must be rated Exceeding NQS for the quality area also to be rated Exceeding NQS. Before the change, the 2012 NQS required at least 60% of Standards to be rated Exceeding NQS for a quality area to also receive that rating.

There was no change in the way the overall rating for Exceeding NQS is calculated. To be rated Exceeding NQS overall, all quality areas must be at least Meeting NQS, and four or more quality areas must be rated Exceeding NQS, with at least two of these being quality areas 1, 5, 6 or 7.

In addition, three new Exceeding themes were introduced and are required to be met for each Standard. These themes replaced 58 element-level Exceeding NQS descriptors.

As a result of these changes, it is more challenging for a service to achieve a rating of Exceeding NQS under the current (2018) NQS than it was under the previous 2012 NQS. However, more than 3500 services have been assessed and rated against the revised version and while Exceeding NQS is a high benchmark under the 2018 NQS, many services are achieving this rating.

A range of relevant resources are available on the ACECQA website.

Further reading and resources

Guide to the NQF – Exceeding Theme Guidance (p.331)

ACECQA – Educational games – Exceeding National Quality Standard

ACECQA – Educational games – Exceeding NQS themes activity

Revised Assessment and Rating Draft Report Feedback template available now

Two educators talking and interacting

The revised Assessment and Rating Draft Report Feedback template is now available for download from our website. This template provides opportunities for service providers to:

  • present factual information to demonstrate how their service met the element or met or exceeded the standard
  • clarify a factual inaccuracy in the draft assessment and rating report
  • provide further evidence of a relevant practice that may have been overlooked on the day of the assessment and rating visit.

It includes the addition of the three Exceeding NQS themes for each standard to assist service providers (where appropriate) to identify practice that aligns with these themes.

Should you choose to provide feedback, remember that you are not required to complete all areas, only those you wish the state and territory regulatory authority to consider. In general, regulatory authorities will only consider feedback that is succinct, relevant and supported by evidence.

The NQA ITS web-based template is being developed and will be available shortly.

Quality improvement planning resources

Educator playing indoors with children at service

Reflecting on practice and planning for continuous quality improvement is an important way of ensuring the highest quality education and care for children. This allows everyone at your service to identify their goals and focus on implementing strategies to achieve those goals.

Our revised Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) template is a free resource that you may find useful. The aim of a QIP is to help services self-assess their performance in delivering quality education and care, and to plan future improvements. The QIP can be provided in any format, including the one we have developed.

We have also developed an information sheet, Developing and reviewing your quality improvement plan, which is a useful guide to the self-assessment and quality improvement planning processes. It provides tips on writing and reviewing a QIP, and outlines how the QIP may be used to identify practice that is exceeding the expectations of the NQS.

Visit our website for more information on quality improvement planning and to download our range of free information sheets.

2019 National Quality Framework Review

NQF Review logo

It has been five years since the NQF review in 2014. This year, you have the opportunity to contribute to a national conversation about quality children’s education and care in Australia.

The 2019 NQF Review aims to ensure that the NQF is current, fit-for-purpose and implemented through best practice regulation. Over the next two years, there will be opportunities to find out more, provide feedback, and get updates on options being considered by governments.

To share your views on what areas of the NQF need improvement, including the National Law and National Regulations, visit the NQF Review 2019 website.

On this website, you can:

  • complete an online survey by the end of June 2019
  • register to attend a May or June consultation near you
  • find out more about the NQF Review.

For any questions that have not been addressed on the FAQs page of the website, contact a NQF Review team member in your state/territory.

Annual fees

Desk arrangement with colourful pencils

The Education and Care Services National Regulations set the fees for children’s education and care services under the National Quality Framework which is indexed annually. Fees fall into two categories:

  • the annual service fee, which applies to all approved services
  • transaction fees, which are individual fees that apply to specific transactions.

Annual fee invoices for the 2019-20 financial year will be issued by email by the first week of June 2019. Please 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. All fees are collected by state and territory regulatory authorities and help administer the NQF.

Contact your regulatory authority if you have questions or for more information.

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