ACECQA Newsletter Issue 6 2017

Evaluating the National Quality Framework  

In collaboration with state and territory governments and the Australian Government, ACECQA has developed an evaluation framework for the NQF. The shared framework provides all governments with a common way of understanding whether and how the NQF is meeting its objectives.

The NQF objectives can be summarised as:

  • ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
  • improving the educational and developmental outcomes of children attending education and care services
  • promoting continuous improvement in the quality of education and care services
  • improving the efficiency of regulating education and care services
  • improving public knowledge and access to information about the quality of education and care services.

The NQF evaluation framework lays the foundation and parameters for ongoing evaluation projects that link to these objectives. It builds a shared understanding of what needs to be evaluated and why, and provides governments with a common reference point when considering existing and future research activities.

Universities, research institutions, government organisations and departments, and other stakeholders can all contribute to the NQF evidence base by commissioning and undertaking research in line with the NQF evaluation framework.

ACECQA’s own research and evaluation activities will align to one or more of the objectives of the NQF, and contribute evidence towards answering the key evaluation questions and sub questions outlined in the evaluation framework.

The NQF evaluation framework will also better position governments and ACECQA to contribute to future policy reviews and public debates about the benefits of regulating education and care services.

The NQF evaluation framework is available as part of our new research and reports page. This page will be added to over time, with the aim of it being a repository of NQF related research and evidence.  


Australian Children's Laureate 2016-2017: Q&A with Leigh Hobbs 

Leigh Hobbs as a child with his mother reading a book in bed.

Books and reading never cease to encourage and move us, expanding our imaginations and bringing to life stories and worlds both real and fantastic.

This month on We Hear You, the children’s author and illustrator and Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016–2017, Leigh Hobbs, shares his thoughts on books, reading and the ongoing inspiration they provide to children and adults alike.    


Supporting STEM in education and care

A variety of seedlings in plastic cups

Children are curious from birth. They all have an innate sense of wonder about their world as they explore, experiment and hypothesise throughout their play and leisure time. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and STEAM (STEM + Arts/Design) education aim to build on this curiosity and discovery by laying the foundation for lifelong learning.

STEM/STEAM is a way of thinking about how educators can help children think in a more connected and holistic way, aligning with key practices of the approved learning frameworks.

However educators do not need to have all the answers when guiding children’s evolving STEM/STEAM learning and skills. Engaging with these concepts means embarking on a learning journey with children, co-constructing knowledge and creating a learning community – one that supports experimentation and investigation.

Through intentional teaching and scaffolding children’s thinking, educators can help children to test and implement their theories and ideas. Below are some strategies to do this: 

  • providing making/tinkering tables
  • asking open-ended questions (for example, what happened/have you changed/have you noticed)
  • making observations
  • using clear language
  • co-constructing understandings
  • encouraging reflection
  • allowing children time to think, create and problem solve and the opportunity to communicate.

STEM/STEAM teaching and learning are often embedded in the daily practices and programs at the service, and in the thinking and doing as educators guide and support children’s exploration and development. Examples of this might be as simple as measuring pea seedling growth (mathematics and science); drawing a representation of a block construction (art and engineering); or making a simple movie subject using building blocks (technology, engineering and art).

Further reading and resources 

Early Learning STEM Australia – an Australian Government initiative, which includes an upcoming pilot program in 100 preschools and a suite of resources. 

Early Childhood Australia – Learning Hub and Digichild.

Cool Australia – offers a diverse array of resources and a digital library. Educators register for free and accredited, online, professional development can also be purchased.

Little Scientists – offers STEM workshops and professional development.

Pauline Roberts – STEM in Early Childhood: How to keep it simple and fun.

Kate Highfield – Engaging children in STEM podcast.


ACECQA chats with award-nominated early childhood educators

Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards logo

Congratulations to all nominees and finalists of the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards.

National winners were announced at the Gala Awards in Sydney on 16 June and we spoke to Benjamin Jackson, Kelly Prussian and Arvee Vowles, the three national finalists of the Rising Star Award about their work, inspirations and experiences.

Together, the finalists embody the diversity of the children’s education and care sector, bringing together family day care, long day care and outside school hours care (OSHC). While their day-to-day routines are often very different, each regards the meaningful relationships forged with children and families as one of the most rewarding aspects of their role.

“Watching these children grow and develop, and having a positive impact they will carry with them for a lifetime is very important to me,” said Arvee, the family day care educator from Darwin’s Arvee Family Daycare.

As the OSHC coordinator at Day One Early Learning Centre – Victoria Point Campus in Queensland, Ben thrives on the challenge to meet the needs of the diverse group of children at his service as he designs and implements the OSHC program. “One of the key motivators for me is inspiring children’s learning – creating programs, opportunities and an environment that not only meet their needs but exceed their expectations,” said Ben. “The most significant reward is watching the delight of children exploring these environments and the rich connections that are formed to support their learning for life.”

For Kelly, the Centre Coordinator at Child Australia Lockridge Campus which incorporates an early learning centre and OSHC service, establishing deep bonds with the children and close relationships with the families is “especially important to me as I live in the community where I work”. “I love knowing all the families and their children because it creates a sense of community that is vital to children’s well-being, development and learning,” said Kelly. This sense of community is vital to Arvee and Ben as well. Arvee’s family day care service and programs create a home environment welcoming to both children and families, while Ben is passionate about the service’s “day one difference philosophy” that fosters “a true sense of community and family”.

This extended idea of family and community is also expressed for Kelly in her relationships with the other educators at her service and further afield. Meeting and collaborating with supportive educators in the children’s education and care sector has enriched her practice and reinforced her “work family” at Lockridge Campus. Ben, too, draws inspiration, energy and ideas from collaborations with a number of different educators as well as his advocacy of male educators in the sector.

“As educators, each of us has the potential to be the difference in our sector, to make a difference in the lives of the children at our services. To be a part of those positive outcomes for children, families and other educators is truly rewarding,” said Ben.  

This is a sentiment echoed by all three finalists, who credit the collaborative environments of their services and the inspiring influence of other educators for their passion for teaching as well as their own ongoing learning and discovery.         

Visit Arvee’s Family Daycare (Darwin Family Day Care), Child Australia Lockridge Campus and Day One Early Learning Centre – Victoria Point Campus for more information on these services and the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards website for details about all state and national nominees and finalists.


Removal of paper-based forms

Close-up of yellow, pink and green pencil pots container coloured pencils

From 1 October 2017*, education and care providers will need to submit application and notification forms to the regulatory authority through the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS).

Most paper-based forms will no longer be available on the ACECQA website.

The removal of unnecessary paper-based forms will streamline the current application and notification process and help reduce administrative work for service providers.

The NQA ITS is an online tool that offers service providers a secure and direct way of communicating with regulatory authorities aiming to reduce paperwork and duplication.

First time users of the NQA ITS can create an account. See our Getting Started Online guidance or view our online training videos for more information and support.

*Currently, the NSW and Victorian regulatory authorities only accept applications and notifications submitted online using the NQA ITS.


ACECQA's survey of families

Mother holding up young girl in an outdoor setting

ACECQA is conducting an online survey of families to understand more about the factors they consider when choosing an education and care service for their child and the information they use to make their decision.

We will use the results to improve the information that we make available to families to help inform their decisions.

The survey takes between 5-10 minutes to complete, and respondents are not asked any personally identifying questions.

We encourage you to invite the families attending your service to complete the survey, which is open until 24 July 2017.

If you have any questions about this research, you can contact the ACECQA Research team at research@acecqa.gov.au.


Annual fee invoices issued

Group of children and an educator on a nature walk

All providers should have received their annual fee invoices via email for the 2017-18 financial year. Providers who have not received their invoice can view and pay it by logging into the National Quality Agenda IT System.

Fees for the 2017-18 financial year are payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures.

The complete list of indexed prescribed fees can be found on the ACECQA website. If you have any questions, contact your regulatory authority.