ACECQA Newsletter Issue 6 2022
Our monthly newsletter is published in the last week of every month. As such, our commitment is to bring you information about special events in the month ahead, updates on national initiatives and fresh articles that may be useful to you as providers, educational leaders, teachers, educators, co-ordinators and all who are passionate about children’s and young people’s education and development.
This month, we have news about the Review of the National Quality Framework which commenced in 2019. The Decision Regulatory Impact Statement or DRIS is the official record of the changes agreed by the nine Education Ministers of Australia.
We are also pleased to publish information and resources on the protection of children’s health, safety and wellbeing. One of the most important obligations that services have to children, their families and the community under the National Quality Framework is the safe protection, wellbeing and happiness of children. ‘Education’ and ‘Care” cannot be separated: every child needs to feel safe and to belong as the foundation of their development and learning journeys.
There is a large body of evidence showing the close relationship between physical movement, wellbeing and cognitive abilities, enriching our understanding of human ‘health’ as an holistic endeavour. Although salient for all ages and stages of life, physical movement is particularly important for optimal development in the early years - social, physical, emotional, cognitive and language skills are all interconnected. Of course, this is one of the reasons why early childhood education and care is committed to the right of children to active play – encouraging and enabling, for example, physical interaction and exploration to foster both a sense of wellbeing and skills development while making sense of the natural world. In this edition, we share a series of interesting articles focusing on this obligation.
Preparations for NAIDOC Week are in full swing in communities across Australia. Here at ACECQA, we are also continuing our journey for the authentic advancement of Reconciliation and working together to build greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, knowledges and perspectives. The article and NAIDOC website link may help with new ideas for your NAIDOC Week events.
Finally, please share the articles, resources and information with your families and colleagues if they are of interest to you even perhaps as a provocation?
Outcomes of the NQF Review
Since the National Quality Framework (NQF) commenced, regular reviews have been undertaken to ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves its objectives and continues to support approved providers and their staff to provide high quality education and care to children and young people.
The Review process included extensive consultation with the education and care sector and the broader community on proposed options for change.
The Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS), which marks the completion of the 2019 National Quality Framework Review, has now been published.
Based on findings from the Review, Commonwealth, State and Territory Education Ministers have agreed to some changes to the National Quality Framework.
In addition to these changes to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations, another outcome of the Review will be the development of additional guidance to support approved providers and their staff in promoting children’s health, safety and wellbeing.
The DRIS and a summary of the proposals and final decisions made by Ministers are available on the 2019 NQF Review website.
Skills development and active play
Playing and being physically active is an important part of life for all children. Facilitating regular physical activity throughout early childhood acts as a protective factor, and can provide immediate and long-term health outcomes. These outcomes relate to physical, mental, cognitive, and psychosocial health benefits and illustrate, alongside ongoing research, that regular physical activity promotes growth and development. Importantly, what we do as educators directly contributes to children’s capacity to concentrate, cooperate, learn and get moving for optimal development. If we can support children’s good habits early, then we can aid in laying the foundation for healthy behaviours to continue throughout adulthood.
Providing education and care for more than 1.3 million children nation-wide, early childhood and school age care services are uniquely placed to arrange routines, environments, resources and inspirations so that children and young people are encouraged and motivated to stay active.
The Australian Government has worked with experts to develop guidelines to help families and education and care professionals to support children and young people to build daily routines for better health outcomes. The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and the 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People (5 to 17 years) outline what a day for a child or young person should look like. This includes time for physical activity, limiting sedentary activities and getting adequate sleep.
To support engagement with the guidelines, we have developed a 24hr Movement Guidelines Quest for Quality extension pack. Designed to build knowledge and team capacity, the extension pack includes information, scenarios, questions and activities aimed at enhancing professional discussions, team meetings and critical reflection. Consider how this educational game may generate new ideas within your education and care service to:
- reflect on the effectiveness of your physical environment in supporting children’s active play and physical activity
- include intentionally planned and creative spontaneous play opportunities that align with the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines
- identify strategies to enhance physical activity, including creative use of resources and professional development
- guide the development of an action plan to further promote active play and physical activity for children through continuous improvement. This can be linked to your service’s Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).
Quality Area 2 of the National Quality Standard specifically aims to safeguard and promote children’s health, safety and wellbeing; to minimise risks; and to protect children from harm, injury and infection. This recognises each child’s right to experience quality education and care in an environment that provides for their physical and psychological wellbeing.
The Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations require that all children being educated and cared for at an approved service are adequately supervised at all times and are protected from harm and hazards.
Preventing lock in or out incidents
Approved providers are required to notify state and territory regulatory authorities about any serious incidents or complaints alleging a serious incident has or is occurring under the National Law.
Incidents where children are mistakenly locked in or out of services can have severe and devastating consequences for children’s health, safety and wellbeing.
Ways to minimise the risk of children being locked in or out of services include:
- undertake a comprehensive risk assessment to identify the possible risks in your setting and relevant strategies to implement
- ensuring active and effective supervision at all times – with a particular focus on late afternoons, transitions, drop off/pick up times, excursions, less frequented areas, and younger children
- ensuring educator-to-child ratios are maintained at all times
- conducting regular headcounts and/or roll calls of children
- conducting additional checks and taking additional care when transporting children on buses and other forms of transport. This includes ensuring all staff know and follow the service’s procedures for how each child is to be accounted for on embarking and disembarking a vehicle
- ensuring relevant policies and procedures are up-to-date, and that all staff understand their roles and responsibilities
- conducting staff induction on commencement of employment and regular refresher training
- regularly communicating with families about policies and procedures
- holding regular staff discussions, debriefs and reviews, particularly following a serious incident or any identified risk or concern.
June is National Burns Awareness Month and Kidsafe Australia, in partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Burn Association, is urging parents and carers to be extra vigilant at preventing burns and ensuring they know correct first aid.
If a burn happens, the most effective first aid is clean, cool, running water for 20 minutes within an hour of the burn occurring.
Common causes of scalds and burns to children include:
- Hot food and drink (e.g. hot tea and coffee).
- Hot water, often from bath water.
- Heaters and fires.
- Household and kitchen appliances (e.g. irons, ovens, stoves, microwaves, kettles and toasters).
- Lack of supervision around potential burn and scald hazards.
- Lack of working smoke alarms.
Scalds from hot food and drink commonly occur when young children pull items down on themselves, or running into or being held by someone who has a hot drink and spills it.
Hot liquid at 60oC takes only a second to cause a third-degree burn.
Burns and scalds are preventable. The Kidsafe website has a National Burns Awareness Month Community Awareness Kit which includes printable and digital resources, videos and social posts.
Flu can be serious for children especially children under five years old.
As early childhood education and care providers, you play an important role in protecting children, colleagues, families and communities from influenza.
Do your parents and families know that the flu vaccine is free to children aged between six months and under five years?
More information on the flu vaccination for children is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website. The website also has a printable brochure providing information about getting vaccinated.
NAIDOC Week is on from Sunday 3 July until Sunday 10 July. Festivities will be held across Australia to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
NAIDOC, the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, has origins tracing back more than a century. This year, we are encouraged to ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ for change and continue to call out racism.
Valuing Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures is an underpinning principle of the National Quality Framework.
NAIDOC week provides an opportunity to build greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, knowledges and perspectives and to focus on the authentic advancement of Reconciliation. It is a time to reflect about how you could build stronger relationships and new partnerships with your local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities through activities and events.
International Malala Day is on Tuesday 12 July, shining a light on the global inequalities in access to quality education for girls.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist and Nobel Laureate who had her own education restricted during childhood and who now campaigns for women’s rights to education.
Malala Day is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of equal access to quality education, and on the work being done to improve opportunities across the globe. It is also an opportunity to reflect on practices, experiences and interactions that occur in services to ensure equity of opportunities and to mitigate the unintended consequences of stereotyping based on gender.
The approved learning frameworks remind us that:
The concept of being reminds educators to focus on children in the here and now, and of the importance of children’s right to be a child and experience the joy of childhood. Being involves children developing an awareness of their social and cultural heritage, of gender and their significance in their world. (Early Years Learning Framework, p 23 and My Time Our Place, p 20)
In Australia, while gender is now a protected characteristic under discrimination laws, it is important to understand that the equality experienced today was achieved as the result of much campaigning.
Working together to support children's leisure and learning
As an outside school hours care provider operating out of various school premises, Peaks Sports and Learning works collaboratively with schools to maximise opportunities to build continuity and community within its shared spaces.
In 2021, one of their services, Peak Sports and Learning The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS), was awarded the Excellent rating in recognition of its exceptional collaborative partnerships, commitment to children, practice and environments and its positive workplace culture.
TIGS takes a holistic approach to children’s development by working in close partnership with its school community. Peak Sports and Learning Director Ashleigh Neill acknowledges relationship building between the service and school, thinking outside the box and regular input from children were key to maximising use of the physical environment, including shared spaces and the set-up/pack-up of services.
As part of this commitment, the service assisted in attracting support for the school to build a Nature Play Area, which has resulted in children’s increased participation in unstructured/free play. Educators provided input into the design and location of the area, ensuring it was easily accessible for the children while at the school and at the service.
In 2020, the service established an ongoing partnership with the Gumaraa Group that delivers authentic Dharawal and Yuin Nation experiences on the NSW South Coast. This occurred in response to educators’ feedback regarding their lack of confidence and capacity to deliver embedded and meaningful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives with, and for, the children.
Gumaraa Group delivered workshops to educators and children, building their knowledge and understanding in embedding culturally sensitive practice into the curriculum, bush tucker and use of native plants for medicinal purposes. The service acknowledges this initiative extends children’s learning and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and perspectives in addition to establishing and embedding gardening and sustainability practices through:
- the establishment of the service’s Bush Tucker Garden in the school grounds which has fostered children’s increased understanding of medicinal and edible native plants and experimentation with planting arrangements to accommodate new seedlings. The service extended on the learning through an excursion to the Wollongong Botanical Gardens and the school community participates in the care and maintenance of the Bush Tucker Garden.
- providing continuity of practices across school and service spaces. Recycling and composting stations, vegetable and bush tucker gardens, and worm farms are looked after by children during school class time and in the before and after school and vacation care programs.
- educators and children working together to develop a Reconciliation Video in response to younger children expressing uncertainty about what reconciliation is.
Additionally, the service offers its bus at no cost and during nonoperational hours to Gumaraa Group. Service educators transport Gumaraa Group staff and their participants to and from their community workshops such as transporting participants to Shoalhaven Zoo and Wreck Bay for a NAIDOC gathering in June 2021.
The service acknowledges that during the COVID-19 related restrictions, several extra-curricular programs at the school were cancelled, including Coding and Soccer Joeys. In response, educators and teachers collaborated to establish the ‘STEM program’ and ‘Soccer Skills’ program in the curriculum. This ensured children’s interests, academic and health outcomes, and wellbeing were supported throughout the year while aligning to the school community’s values of academic achievement, curiosity, education and science.
School holidays are fast approaching which means vacation care programs will soon commence at some services.
Families can find vacation care programs being offered at children’s education and care services by visiting StartingBlocks.gov.au and filtering for ‘Outside School Hours Care – Vacation Care’ on the Find Child Care tool.
To help families find details for your vacation care program, ensure your service’s details are up-to-date on StartingBlocks.gov.au.
Service fees, vacancies and inclusions can be updated via the Provider Entry Point or their third-party software. Please see page 10 of the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.
Keep your service information updated on the NQA IT System as usual.
Approved providers are encouraged to share their experiences in the NQF Approved Providers Perception Survey 2022.
The survey aims to monitor and identify changes in perception of administrative burden experienced by providers of education and care services.
Providers will be able to complete the confidential survey until Friday 8 July.
If you are an approved provider, you should have received an email from ACECQA with a link to complete the survey. Only one person from each approved provider should complete this survey.
If you are an approved provider and you have not received your survey link, please contact [email protected].