ACECQA Newsletter Issue 8 2021
Although we are all experiencing the effects of COVID-19, there are services and their communities that are being particularly hard hit. We acknowledge the pressures on services and understand that their priorities must include the health and wellbeing of staff, and the support families may need to help with their children’s continuity of care, education and development.
In this August newsletter, we provide articles assisting employers (approved providers) in their obligations under the National Quality Framework (NQF) including the protection of children’s health, safety and wellbeing, and sound management and governance practices to support staff. Our resources and guidelines, detailed below, particularly speak to policies and procedures covering matters set out in regulations 168 and 169 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations.
In support of parents and the building of close relationships with them, we have more information that you may want to share with your families. Our StartingBlocks.gov.au website continues to be enriched with new information. Our latest We Hear You blog article on Digital documentation for families explains the importance of identifying, recording and sharing each child’s learning and development journey with their family. It is part of the professional practice of educators and teachers and worth a conversation, particularly with parents who are new to your service.
In all education systems, the sharing of stories about “what works” is an effective tool in helping achieve better practice across the sector. This month, we talk about research and data – the cornerstones of continuous quality improvement – and how we share these through various reports and evaluations. There is also a reminder about the two addendums we developed in collaboration with the sector to support educational leaders in all service types. The videos include personal stories of practice and interviews with both educational leaders and approved providers.
Finally, we have articles about what is happening with key reviews and decisions to help you stay up to date with national reviews.
In this difficult time, we hope you are staying safe and can continue your essential role in supporting children’s development and care.
A national consortium led by a partnership between Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University was engaged by ACECQA on behalf of all governments earlier in 2021 to deliver the 2021 National Quality Framework (NQF) Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project. The project is being delivered over three stages.
Stage 2 of the project has now commenced with the launch of a Discussion Paper and survey. You are invited to provide feedback on the Discussion Paper via an online survey or by making a written submission by Friday 17 September.
Your feedback will inform the recommendations for updates to Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP).
To receive regular updates on the project please visit the Approved Learning Frameworks Update website and register your interest.
Approved providers must ensure each of their services has a range of policies and procedures to support all educators and other service staff to deliver quality and safe education and care to children, and to inform and be accountable to their families.
At ACECQA, we publish guides and resources to support providers and their service teams in understanding – and working within – the National Quality Framework. In consultation with state and territory regulatory authorities, we developed 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 of the national policy and procedures guidelines were published on our website in June, and the final 16 are now available.
As the guidelines are for use Australia-wide, approved providers will also need to consider any relevant state/territory requirements.
In June 2021, the ACECQA Board decided to extend and amend its existing transitional measure that recognises ‘equivalent early childhood teachers’.
The Board’s decision to extend and amend the arrangement responds to persistent and increasing workforce pressures and challenges, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent changes made to the national children’s education and care training package.
From 1 January 2022, a person who holds ALL of the following will be recognised as equivalent to an early childhood teacher:
- a primary or secondary teaching qualification
- teacher registration in Australia (called ‘accreditation’ in New South Wales)
- an ACECQA approved certificate III level (or higher) early childhood education and care qualification.
After the end of 2023, this transitional measure is scheduled to cease, however individuals who have obtained this combination of qualifications before the end of 2023 will continue to be recognised under this provision.
More information about this decision is available on the ACECQA website.
The SkillsIQ review of the six children’s education and care qualifications has been completed. The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has approved a formal request from SkillsIQ to extend the training package teach-out period until 20 January 2023. The below qualifications are now published on training.gov.au:
- CHC30121 Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
- CHC50221 Diploma of School Age Education and Care
- CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support
- CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support
- CHC50121 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.
As noted on SkillsIQ’s website, “CHC40113 Certificate IV in School Age Education and Care remains unchanged. This qualification has been endorsed for deletion by 30 June 2022, when it is expected that an accredited course, currently under development, Certificate III in Out of School Hours Care, will be available for implementation.”
The ACECQA Board has considered the outcomes of the training package review, and the revised Certificate III in, and Diploma of, Early Childhood Education and Care have been added to the national list of approved early childhood education and care qualifications. The state and territory specific lists of approved outside school hours care qualifications are also in the process of being updated in line with state and territory regulatory authority requirements.
An important part of our work at ACECQA is to provide information and resources to support our sector in providing high quality children’s education and care and, in doing so, supporting children, families and communities. The ACECQA website is where you’ll find all our freely available resources to assist approved providers, service leaders, educators and teachers in this work. It is our repository for all of our guidance and support resources. Featured below are some key resources that may be useful for you and your team.
Quality area resources
- To find information on the National Quality Framework (NQF), the National Quality Standard (NQS) and approved learning frameworks as well as a broad range of other topics, head to the quality area pages.
- Our new Connecting with practice videos page hosts the videos from the Connecting with Practice and Talking about practice series which cover a broad range of topics including respecting and responding to children and opportunities for learning in natural spaces.
A range of supporting resources aimed at promoting quality and compliance, are freely available via the resources and research tab. Resources include:
- Information sheets offering practical strategies and guidance on a range of topics related to the NQS.
- Posters for services on educator wellbeing and the seven quality areas of the NQS that can be used to promote the benefits of high quality children’s education and care.
- Educational games to provide interactive and engaging professional development for you and your team.
- Videos developed on a range of topics to support knowledge and understanding of the NQF.
Did you know that we have a webpage dedicated to educational leadership? The webpage includes information on the requirements and responsibilities of the role and The Educational Leader Resource (ELR). The ELR provides a collection of practical advice, case studies, research, reflections and references to support new, experienced or future educational leaders, as well as approved providers.
The ELR has two addendums that were developed in collaboration with the sector:
- Educational Leadership in Family Day Care: Stories from the Field
- Outside School Hours Care: Educational Leadership in Action.
A series of videos accompanies the ELR and includes stories of practice and open, in-depth interviews with educational leaders and approved providers from different service types.
COVID-19 continues to have a devastating impact on children, families and service staff across Australia. While you and your service are working hard to enable continuity of children’s education and care, we have developed some information and resources to equip you to stay safe and up to date with the latest advice. You can find information on our COVID-19 webpage, including key resources that can be shared with your team to help safeguard educators’ wellbeing during these difficult times.
Second tier reviews offer approved providers an opportunity to seek a final review where they disagree with the rating level awarded to their service through the quality rating process and at first tier review.
When applying for second tier review, there are things you can do to present the best possible case for your service. The second tier review information on our website has been updated with an article providing tips and things to consider before submitting an application.
Informed by observations of second tier review panel pool members, the article guides approved providers through the process of selecting and organising evidence to accompany an application for their service. Carefully selected and well organised supporting evidence can assist panel members to understand the reasons why you believe the rating(s) for your service should be reconsidered.
Keeping in mind that changes to practice that occur after the date of assessment and rating can’t be considered by review panels, the new guidance may also help approved providers to present their arguments more clearly, or explain their practice in a new way.
You can find the new article on the ACECQA website.
ACECQA Research and Evaluation Strategy
We are committed to providing contemporary, evidence based research and practices, and guidance to further the objectives of the National Quality Framework (NQF). With this in mind, we are involved in a broad range of research, evaluation and monitoring projects to help answer the questions posed in the NQF Evaluation Framework.
We have recently updated our Research and Evaluation Strategy 2021-24, which details our three main approaches to research and evaluation under the NQF:
- internal production of research and evaluations
- commissioning research bodies such as universities to undertake research on specific topics
- collaboration and partnerships with research bodies and sector stakeholders.
We have a small research team that, in addition to responding to data and information requests from governments and the sector, produces a broad range of regular and ad hoc research and evaluation reports, including:
- NQF Snapshots
- NQF Annual Performance Reports
- occasional papers
- our corporate annual reports
- regulatory burden and families research
- contributions to the Report on Government Services.
From time to time, particularly when a specific opportunity or priority arises, we commission research from a third party. We also strive to find new and innovative ways to collaborate and partner with governments, research bodies and sector stakeholders to share high quality Australian and international research findings.
Visit our Research and reports page to read more about our research and evaluation program and other NQF‑related research and evidence.
More than 30,000 education and care service quality assessments undertaken
More than 30,000 quality assessments of approved services have been undertaken by state and territory regulatory authorities since 2012, with more than 10,000 of these undertaken since the National Quality Standard (NQS) was revised on 1 February 2018.
The number of assessments and the improvement in quality reflect a significant effort by governments, service providers, teachers and educators to deliver the best possible education and care to children in Australia. This effort has been rewarded and 86% of services are now rated Meeting NQS or above, up from 57% in 2013 when quality ratings were first published.
Our latest quarterly NQF Snapshot, released on 5 August, finds that of the services rated Meeting NQS and above, 28% are rated Exceeding NQS or Excellent.
More than 13,000 quality rating reassessments have also been undertaken with almost half of these being for services rated Working Towards NQS. Of these services, 67% improved their overall quality rating after reassessment.
In addition to detailed information about the quality of education and care services, the NQF Snapshot and interactive Online NQF Snapshot include data about temporary service closures related to the impact of COVID-19 and other aspects of service regulation, such as staffing waivers.
Inquiry-based STEM education in the early years is a collaborative process, which encourages children to raise questions and explore their interests.
StartingBlocks.gov.au also has a variety of Tips for Parents on the website and factsheets, which are available as easily accessible webpages that can be viewed on mobile devices and as printable PDFs.
Visit StartingBlocks.gov.au to view the range of factsheets and share them with your families and networks.