ACECQA Newsletter Issue 6 2021

 

Educator and child drawing on outside table

 

CEO foreword

Welcome to our June newsletter. As well as bringing you updates about what is happening and upcoming events in the sector, we aim to provide interesting articles that may stimulate conversations with your colleagues, families and friends. 

This month, we are pleased to release new national resources for providers who are seeking to develop or renew their policies and procedures. In the further interests of children’s health, safety and wellbeing, we also have a new register in the NQA IT System which enables approved providers to quickly check on the status of persons who may be prohibited or suspended educators and we provide an update on the proposed changes to the National Construction Code for services operating in multi-storey buildings.

For early childhood teachers and educators, we understand how difficult it is to find both the time and the appropriate resources to build and consolidate high quality educational programs and teaching practice. This month, under our Innovation section, we share possibilities for using podcasts for both professional development and as shared or teacher-led learning moments with children – “listening to podcasts can offer a fascinating new dimension to educator and teacher planning and practice”.

From the eSafety Commissioner, we have articles to share with your families about good screen practices. As we see more and more young children with ipads and iphones in their hands, it is an obligation to help parents understand the importance of physical activity for children’s skill development and the risks and opportunities for integrating technology in young children’s learning and affective engagement with their world.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, there are many surveys conducted throughout the year to gain insight into our growing and diverse sector. So a special thank you to the more than 3000 people who took precious time to respond to the recent national workforce strategy survey. Your views about the many challenges and possible actions needed to grow a consistent, sustainable and high quality workforce were very much appreciated. The survey results have been considered by the National Stakeholder Reference Group and government representatives and the final strategy is due to be considered by Education Ministers in the second half of this year.

If you are interested in the refresh of both ECEC curriculum frameworks, a survey is now open to give you an opportunity to have a voice in stage 1 of the review. 

In celebration of NAIDOC week, we reflect on the theme of Heal Country, heal our nation and the responsibility we all share in acknowledging and respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the rich diversity that children, their families and communities bring to early education and care services.

We hope you enjoy the following articles.

Gabrielle Sinclair

ACECQA CEO


Preparing NQF policies and procedures

Two educators looking at a tablet together

To support teachers and educators’ important role in protecting children’s health, safety and wellbeing and to ensure the service is meeting appropriate requirements for sound management and governance, approved providers must ensure their education and care services have policies and procedures covering matters set out in regulations 168 and 169 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

At ACECQA, one of our roles is to publish guides and resources to support services in understanding – and working within – the National Quality Framework.  To this end, in consultation with state and territory regulatory authorities, we have developed provider guidelines that will help when preparing or reviewing these policies and procedures.  The guidelines are a reference point for comprehensive policies and procedures that are best suited to your service context and community.

The first 12 national policy and procedure guidelines are now available on our website, with a further 16 to be published over the coming months. You can find them on the ACECQA website.

As the guidelines are for use Australia-wide, approved providers will also need to consider any relevant state/territory requirements.


Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued in children’s education and care services

Aborginal flag artwork on outline of mainland Australia

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is underpinned by a commitment to valuing and acknowledging that Australia is a nation of great diversity, and an ancient land that has been cared for by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for many tens of thousands of years. A guiding principle of the NQF is that Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued. This commitment aligns to the Closing the Gap ideals, targets and outcomes.

Children’s education and care services have a shared responsibility to contribute to building a better society to support children, families, colleagues and the local community to understand, respect and value diversity.

Through all aspects of their practice, educators and teachers challenge stereotyping and bias. They find sensitive and respectful ways to negotiate tensions that may arise because of differing values, beliefs and expectations within the local context of the service, and between the local and broader contexts of Australian society. Educators and teachers take every opportunity to extend children’s understanding of their local context and of their wider world in planned and spontaneous ways.

NAIDOC week will be held from 4 July until 11 July 2021 and this year’s theme is Heal Country, heal our nation. When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak of ‘Country’ they refer to it as a person. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it has been this way since the dawn of time. Consider how your service can connect with this NAIDOC Week theme and continue to build a shared understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories within your service context and community.


Have your say on the Approved Learning Frameworks

Two children playing with colourful wooden toys

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

The 2021 NQF Approved Learning Frameworks Update website is now live, and you can take part in the Stage 1 survey.  

In Stage 1 the consortium is seeking stakeholders’ views on the two nationally Approved Learning Frameworks – Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Framework for Australia (EYLF) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP).

Take the survey today to provide feedback on the strengths of the EYLF and MTOP, as well as gaps and suggested areas for improvement:

The surveys close on Friday 2 July, so have your say today.

To receive regular updates on the project please visit the Approved Learning Frameworks Update project website and register your interest.


NQA IT System updates

Register of prohibited persons and suspended educators

Two children using laptop

Under the Education and Care Services National Law Act (National Law), an approved provider must not engage a person as an educator, family day care educator, employee, contractor or staff member of, or allow a person to perform volunteer services for, an education and care service if the provider knows, or ought reasonably to know that there is a prohibition notice in place for this person. A regulatory authority may disclose information to approved providers regarding prohibited persons and suspended educators under the circumstances set out in section 272 of the National Law. 

To facilitate the disclosure of this information, we have modified the NQA IT System public portal so that approved providers can search for prohibited persons or suspended family day care educators through a register of prohibited persons and suspended educators.  

If the search identifies a potential match on the register, this can then be confirmed by the relevant regulatory authority which can provide further information on the person or educator.

The register is available on the landing page of the portal. Please note that you must be an approved provider under the National Law to request information through the register.  

Notification of serious incidents

The National Law requires that the regulatory authority is notified of any serious incident at an approved service (s174). The Education and Care Services National Regulations provides a definition of serious incidents (r12).

The NQA IT System allows for the notification of serious incidents to regulatory authorities. We’ve improved how information on children involved in an incident is reported allowing each and every child involved in the incident to be included.  Details such as the child’s identity, their parent’s/guardian’s contact details, and description of the incident are captured in the notification.


Proposed changes to the National Construction Code for early education and care services in multi-storey buildings

Child playing with wooden house

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has released Stage One of the Public Comment Draft for the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022.  Volume one of the NCC 2022 contains proposed changes relating to Early Childhood Centres (ECC) in high-rise buildings.

The proposed changes are designed to improve safety and address the risks where the ECC is located on upper levels of a multi-storey building and/or at levels where direct access to a road or open space is not available.

Explanatory information on the key changes relevant to regulated ECCs can be found on page 17, and these include:

  • Building classification - designed to reduce the risk of any ECCs not classified as Class 9b from being exempt from additional requirements due to their location. For example this may include an ECC located within a large office building.  
  • Compartmentation and separation – to mitigate the risk of fire spread and to provide occupants with a safe refuge area.
  • Provision for escape - fire-isolated stairways and ramps and the number of exits required, including exits from each part of the building including from fire compartments. This amendment is designed to address ECC designs that do not occupy a full storey or a full building.
  • Construction of exits – barriers to prevent falls and handrails.
  • Fire sprinkler systems – fast response sprinklers in ECCs and sprinklers to be provided throughout an entire building that incorporates ECCs above ground floor level.
  • Smoke hazard management –early warning smoke detection and alarm system provided throughout the building, not just the ECC.

 To view the main changes to the NCC Volume 1, please see pages 107, 108, 173, 180-181 and 192 of the draft Code. Page 42 addresses the issue where ECCs are not classified as Class 9b and therefore may be currently exempt from additional requirements due to their location.

You may also wish to note that the primary school in high rise buildings changes are located on page 23 of the Explanatory information.

Feedback on the proposed amendments is due by 2 July 2021 and needs to be submitted via the online system available at the ABCB Consultation Hub. 


Updates from the Australian Government

$2 billion in preschool funding for states and territories

Hand holding a pen over a writing pad

The Australian Government has announced $2 billion to strengthen the delivery of preschool through a four-year Preschool Reform Funding Agreement.

From 2023, every child enrolled in an approved preschool or kindergarten program will see the full benefit of Commonwealth funding, delivered through state and territory governments, regardless of setting. This amounts to around $1340 per child in 2022 and will increase each year thereafter. 

The funding supports 15 hours of preschool or kindergarten a week – 600 hours a year – for all children in the year before school.

Under the agreement announced as part of the Federal Budget, states and territories will need to agree to lift attendance and school readiness from 2024.

This commitment, for the first time, locks in Australian Government preschool funding beyond 2025. The Commonwealth is working to have the agreement with states and territories in place by the end of 2021.

Learn more about preschool funding on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s website.

Provider Eligible Enrolments

The Australian Government is making important changes to Provider Eligible Enrolments from 1 July.

What is a Provider Eligible Enrolment?

In rare cases, providers may not be able to identify a parent or carer who is eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing).

Under these circumstances, providers can enrol a child and receive ACCS on the parent’s or carer’s behalf. To do this, the provider must enrol the child under a Provider Eligible ACCS (child wellbeing) enrolment.

1 July changes

From 1 July 2021, this enrolment type will be identified as a Provider Eligible Arrangement (PEA) in the Child Care Subsidy System. This will reduce confusion about when to use the enrolment type.

PEAs are only used where providers cannot identify an eligible parent or carer. Most children who receive ACCS payments should be enrolled under a Complying Written Arrangement (CWA).

From 1 July 2021, providers will also be able to enrol children in formal foster care arrangements under a PEA, for up to 13 weeks.

This means foster children will have access to ACCS while their foster carer is assessed for Child Care Subsidy.

Providers must work with foster families to identify an eligible individual and enter into a CWA before the 13-week PEA period ends.

Learn more about Provider Eligible Enrolments on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s website.


Podcasts as a gateway for new understandings

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

Laura Stone and Linda Harrison from ABC Kids Early Education share advice on using podcasts to build and support children’s learning and understanding. ABC Kids Early Education is a source for ABC Kids and ABC Kids Listen digital content aligned to six key areas: creativity and expression, family, community and culture, language and literacy, STEM and sustainability and nature.

When considering the diverse learning styles of young children, listening to podcasts can offer a fascinating new dimension to educator and teacher planning and practice. Children’s developing capacity to focus attention on each of their senses is a technique used in early childhood mindfulness practice.  There are now an array of quality podcasts available for young children that encourage ‘purposeful listening’, helping young minds and bodies to learn to listen with intent – thereby resulting in a natural calmness. Most quality children’s podcasts are great co-listening experiences and can be just as soothing and engaging for adult co-listeners as they are for children.

Listening to podcasts can help children develop important skills for ‘efferent’ listening – listening for factual information or ideas. For example, in ABC Kids Listen’s Noisy by Nature, children can hear many of the interesting sounds made by Australian animals and insects, while learning fun facts to help develop their understandings and respect for biodiversity in different natural environments along the way.  Just as reading a great storybook or having an in depth ‘picture talk’ will tease out additional understandings from children’s real-life experiences, so too can beautiful podcasts.

In Noisy by Nature, presenter Dr Ann Jones talks to children as if they are old friends – she asks questions, waits for a response, atmosphere builds in a layered soundscape of wind, waves and distant bird calls. We hear something loud or melodic or just plain silly ring out above the rest!  What is that wonderfully weird sound of nature? Noisy by Nature is a transportive experience for little listeners.

An amazing podcast can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. A child’s gaze when listening to a cleverly crafted podcast is quite a special thing to behold. Just like hearing a story from a loved grown-up, you can see the imagining behind their eyes. As adults, we could liken this experience to the emotional journey we go on when reading a real page turner! No pictures, just an evocative narrative to take you to some place new in your mind. You can see yourself there with the characters, with the landscape, in the moment. Great podcasts are exciting!

What is joint media engagement?

According to the ECA Statement on young children and digital technologies, joint media engagement involves children, peers and/or adults participating in digital activities together such as co-playing games and apps, co-viewing programs or co-listening to digital content together.

Listening to well-chosen appropriate audio content together provides children with the opportunity to ask questions and put forward ideas. This helps build language development through collaborative learning and shared digital play experiences can also help educators scaffold children’s development of important dispositions for learning such as curiosity, interest, enthusiasm and imagination (Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF), Learning Outcome 4.1).

Using the ABC Kids Noisy by Nature podcasts as provocations for learning

Noisy by Nature episodes can be used as provocations to help educators and teachers intentionally engage children in learning. Sparking wonder in Australian animals or animal groups (marsupials, nocturnal animals, insects, amphibians, mammals), these audio resources can be used at any stage of an ongoing inquiry-based investigation. The podcasts allow children to be absorbed and fascinated by natures’ phenomenons, which provides the perfect springboard for meaningful play-based project work.

ABC Kids Early Education has designed a new free online resource with inspiring ideas for ways educators can use Noisy by Nature audio content to engage children in further explorations through hands-on, play-based learning. View the ABC Kids Noisy by Nature Educator Notes and Early Education Resources.

Find out more about ABC Kids Early Education and the benefits of using podcasts to build and support children’s learning on our We Hear You blog. You can also find posts from our National Educational Leader, and other useful information and resources for services, as well as share and comment.


New data on our operational activity

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

We continue to publish information about a number of our operational functions as part of our commitment to openness and transparency.

We publish detailed operational activity data each quarter (including applications by month, location and outcome).

As at 31 March 2021, we have received:


Good screen practices for families and children

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

StartingBlocks.gov.au has two articles on good screen practices contributed by the eSafety Commissioner

StartingBlocks.gov.au provides families with trusted information on early childhood education and care and tips on what can be done at home to encourage children’s learning and development.

For more resources to share with your families, visit the StartingBlocks.gov.au website.