ACECQA Newsletter Issue 8 2019

Educator with child looking at map at service



Welcome to the August Newsletter.

This month, we are focused on resources and information that will support your professional practice and skills, including access to time series data, new resources to help your continuous quality improvement journey and, for educators in Victoria, an update on new reporting obligations and requirements.

In response to a letter from a provider in the ACT, we have included an explanation to clarify how mixed aged ratios apply to a centre-based service.

And, of course, in your conversations with families, more information about our free website Starting Blocks may help to guide parents and carers in their important role as their child’s first teachers.

Please encourage your educators and your network of services to read these newsletters.  If you have any suggestions for future articles, we are always happy to hear from you. Our shared goal is providing the best education and care for our children and we are committed to helping you achieve this.

SkillsIQ training package review – Have your say

Two educators at desk looking at iPads

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) has commissioned SkillsIQ to review six children’s education and care qualifications, including the national Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

The draft training package material for the Certificate III and IV in Education Support was made available for public consultation on 8 August 2019. Based on feedback received as part of the review, changes have been made to the scope of these qualifications. The job role now reflects the role of workers who assist teachers and support student learning in a range of classroom settings. These proposed changes have resulted in the removal of the core units that included early childhood content. 

The draft two training package material for the Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care has been available for public consultation since 30 November 2018. As part of SkillsIQ’s review, there are several changes being proposed to these qualifications. One such change is for educators to complete the new Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC30119) before being eligible to enrol in the new Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50119). There are also changes being proposed to the supervised work placement requirements, as below:

  • work placements at the certificate III level to be increased to 160 hours, of which 120 hours must be in a regulated education and care service
  • work placements at the diploma level to be increased to 280 hours, of which 240 hours must be in a regulated education and care service.

Given the relative infrequency of training package reviews, it is important for all stakeholders, particularly employers and educators, to have their say. The deadline for providing feedback on all training package material, including the Certificate IV and Diploma of School Age Education and Care, and a new proposed Certificate II in Children’s Education Services, is Monday 9 September 2019. ACECQA has provided input to the review through the Children’s Education and Care Industry Reference Committee and the Technical Advisory Committee.

Full details are available on the SkillsIQ website via the links below:

SkillsIQ – Children’s Education and Care Training Package Development

SkillsIQ – Feedback Forum

Latest NQF Snapshot includes new time series data

Hero shot of girl painting

Our latest NQF Snapshot report includes more detail than ever before. The Snapshot and interactive Online Snapshot now provide greater detail about changes in quality ratings over time. There are new charts tracking changes over time in the proportion of services rated Working Towards National Quality Standard (NQS), Meeting NQS and Exceeding NQS for each quality area and more detailed information about waivers.

For the first time, we have also published a time series Excel workbook, which combines all historical Snapshot data into a single source.

The NQF Snapshot, Q2 2019 shows the quality of education and care services continues to improve. Almost eight out of 10 services (79%) have an overall rating of Meeting NQS or above. 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.

New Meeting NQS resources

Three educators with yellow folder having discussion

A new package of resources for providers and leaders of services aspiring to meet the National Quality Standard (NQS) is available on our website.

The resources were initially developed for providers and service leaders of long day care and family day care services rated Working Towards NQS as part of a professional development program.

These resources will support you and your teams to be more confident with the NQS and the quality improvement process. There are detailed introductions to the National Quality Framework and Quality Areas, presentations with speaking points, and guides on how to run reflective sessions and regular meetings. Educators will also find the resources useful as part of their service’s quality improvement journey.

The new resources cover all seven Quality Areas and will be added to over the next 12 months.

Together, these resources will help providers and service leaders work with their teams to improve quality and outcomes for all children.

Find out more about these resources on our website

Ratios for centre-based services: Refresher

Children at OSHC walking into service

The Education and Care Services National Law requires that all children being educated and cared for by an education and care service must be adequately supervised at all times while in the care of the service (section 165).

Minimum educator-to-child ratios and the purposeful organisation of educators highlight the importance of the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and contribute to the continuous support of each child’s learning and development (Element 4.1.1) in an effectively supervised environment.

Educator to child ratios are an important aspect of structural quality in education and care. The Education and Care Services National Regulations set the minimum qualification and educator to child ratio requirements for children’s education and care services.

Minimum educator to child ratios in centre-based services (regulation 123) are calculated across the whole service, not by individual rooms. To be clear:

  • The number of educators required is calculated based on all children in attendance at the service regardless of grouping or room configuration.
  • In a mixed age group of children, an educator who is caring for one age range of children can also be counted against another age range of children, as long as the ratio for each age range is maintained and adequate supervision is maintained at all times.
  • The first step is to determine the number of educators needed for the youngest age range of children in the group. Once that ratio is met, an educator can also supervise children in another age range, provided the youngest age range is still maintained.
  • Maintaining the ratio for each age range of children in the mixed age group does not mean the educator to child ratio for the youngest age range must be applied to all children in an older age range.

By applying minimum educator to child ratios across the entire service, centre-based services can flexibly arrange educators in a way that effectively responds to the needs of all children. 

To be included in the educator to child ratio, educators must be working directly with children (regulation 122), meaning that educators are physically present with the children and directly engaged in providing education and care to the children (regulation 13).

  • The National Regulations require educator to child ratios to be maintained at all times when an education and care service is operating, regardless of the activity children or educators at the service are undertaking.
  • Educators should be replaced when not working directly with children (e.g. when on a scheduled lunch break or undertaking administrative tasks), however some jurisdictions have specific provisions which modify these ratio requirements when educators are taking short breaks and are not working directly with children. 
  • Service providers should check if jurisdiction-specific regulations or guidance apply in their state or territory and contact their regulatory authority for advice if required.

Ratios are calculated using whole numbers of educators. When you are calculating the number of educators required across your service you must round up.

  • For example, if you have 7 children who are 18 months of age, the required educator to child ratio is 1:4, therefore if you divide the number of children by 4, your answer would be 1.75 educators required. Since you are unable to have .75 of an educator, you round up and two educators are required. Similarly, if you have 5 children aged 18 months, you are also required to have two educators, as you cannot have .25 of an educator.
  • Whole numbers are also used to decide how many qualified educators are required. The National Regulations set qualification requirements for educators at centre-based services. Regulation 126(1)(a) stipulates that ‘at least 50 per cent of the educators who are required to meet the relevant educator to child ratios for the service must have, or be actively working towards, at least an approved diploma level education and care qualification’.
  • Rounding up also applies to calculating how many educators must be qualified. For example, if your service must have 13 educators, 50% of these educators equates to 6.5 educators. As you cannot have .5 of an educator, you must round up to 7. Having 7 qualified educators satisfies regulation 126(1)(a) as 7 is ‘at least 50%’, whereas rounding down and having 6 qualified educators would be less than 50% and therefore not comply with the National Regulations. 

Our website and the Guide to the NQF (see pages 429-433) provide a useful reference (noting the need to consider jurisdiction-specific provisions, where applicable) on how to apply the educator to child ratio requirements.

Starting Blocks’ resources on good screen practices for families and children

Children around laptop

This month, ACECQA’s family focused website, Starting Blocks, has added two new articles contributed by the eSafety Commissioner

Starting Blocks 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.

The new articles are outlined below: 

For more resources to share with your families, visit the Starting Blocks website.

Minor update to the Guide to the National Quality Framework

Colourful pencils lined up on bookshelf

In light of the agreement by the Education Council to extend transitional workforce provisions, the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) has been updated.

Revised pages are pages 412-418 (Staffing arrangements).

If you have a hard copy version of the Guide to the NQF, you may wish to print pages 412-418 and insert them as replacement pages in your Guide. You will also be able to purchase updated hard copy versions of the Guide from our secure online payment portal system from September 2019 onwards.

While the option to order a printed hard copy is available, we encourage the use of the online Guide to the NQF (PDF) as it always reflects the most up to date version.

Victoria’s new reporting obligations and teacher registration scheme

Two educators looking at document outdoors

The Victorian Government has recently amended its Education and Training Reform Act (2006) to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in schools and education and care services. These changes require:

  • principals and early childhood managers to provide certain information to Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT)
  • registered teachers to provide certain information to VIT and Working with Children Check Victoria (WWCCV)
  • VIT to closely align its registration scheme with the WWC Check scheme. This scheme assesses applicants who apply for a Working with Children Check (WWC Check) to enable them to engage in child-related work.

Reporting obligations of principals and early childhood managers

Principals and early childhood managers must continue to notify VIT of any action taken against a registered teacher that may be relevant to the teacher’s fitness to teach.

From 1 September 2019, they must also notify VIT if the registered teacher has been charged, convicted or found guilty of category A & B offences, or if they have received a negative notice from WWCCV.

Reporting obligations of registered teachers

Registered teachers must continue to notify VIT of their change of name or contact details, and when they commence and cease employment at a school or early childhood service. From 1 September 2019, registered teachers will also be required to notify VIT if they are committed for trial or have been convicted or found guilty of category A & B offences, indictable offences, common assault and aggravated assault.

Registered teachers will continue to be exempt from a WWC Check as long as their registration is current (i.e. it has not been suspended or cancelled by VIT). However, from 1 September 2019, registered teachers must notify WWCCV of any organisation(s) at which they are engaging in child-related work (whether paid or voluntary) outside of their teaching position. If a teacher's registration is suspended or cancelled by VIT, WWCCV will inform the organisations listed that the teacher exemption no longer applies.

New registration scheme starts on 1 September 2019

VIT already assess the suitability of a person to be registered and remain registered as a teacher.

However, from 1 September 2019, the way in which VIT registers and regulates teachers in Victoria will more closely align with the way in which WWCCV assess whether a person can be issued with an assessment notice that permits them to engage in child related work.

The revised assessments will commence during the annual registration period, and will apply to all new applications for registration from 1 September 2019.

For more information on these new requirements in Victoria, you can access VIT’s news item, Teacher Factsheet and Employer Factsheet and visit their website.

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