ACECQA Newsletter Issue 8 2022
Welcome to our August edition and a range of articles that we hope will be of interest to you as early education and outside school hours care professionals.
In each profession, there are requirements to meet the expectations of that occupation and there are requirements common across most, if not all, professions: mandatory qualifications, registration or accreditation with a professional body, standards of quality practice, commitment to ongoing professional development and status in the community.
Ongoing professional development can be accessed and attained in multiple ways including through professional reading and communities of practice. Our monthly newsletters aim to provide you with updates on what is happening in the sector, as well as relevant articles and resources that we hope you will share with your teams, colleagues and professional networks or in conversations with your families.
At ACECQA, we also have a responsibility under the National Law to publish guides and resources to support parents and the community in understanding quality in education and care services. We use multiple mechanisms to do this including our website StartingBlocks.gov.au and, since high quality critically depends on the close relationship to, and consistent connection with, experienced and qualified teachers and educators, we acknowledge their vital role and champion their status in Australia.
On 7 September, Early Childhood Educators’ Day will be an opportunity for all of us to show our appreciation for our teachers and educators. As the following articles highlight, we have outstanding services in Australia and we thank each teacher and educator for their continual efforts and commitment to children’s educational and developmental outcomes, particularly through this recent long period of natural disasters and the pandemic.
Please share these articles and links to resources if you find them of interest.
We have published our eighth occasional paper marking the first decade of the National Quality Framework (NQF) for children’s education and care.
The NQF is an outcomes-based and integrated framework which includes the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations outlining the minimum standards and requirements that all providers must meet to operate a service. It also includes the National Quality Standard which sets the benchmark for service quality and the Approved Learning Frameworks. Services approved under the NQF include long day care, outside school hours care, family day care and most preschools and kindergartens across Australia.
The paper provides a high level overview of the NQF, highlights changes over the last 10 years and summarises projects and strategies undertaken in the spirit of continuous quality improvement to ensure the NQF remains fit for purpose.
Our sector has made huge progress since the introduction of the NQF in 2012, driven by the efforts of hundreds of thousands of service providers, educational leaders, co-ordinators, teachers and educators. It is a mark of the dedication of early childhood education and care staff that service quality has risen markedly so children are receiving world class quality education and care experiences.
Our occasional papers are available on our Research and reports webpage.
Play is a child’s context for understanding their world and the foundation for learning, development, wellbeing and health. All children are intrinsically drawn to play, including those under two years of age. Contemporary research reminds us that active play has an array of developmental benefits and is necessary for the optimal growth of babies and toddlers.
Australian Senior Lecturer and infant and toddler expert, Dr Andi Salamon, advocates for giving children intentional time to engage with their natural desire to use play to express themselves, make sense of their world and communicate their needs and interests with families and educators in playful ways. Great educators regularly provide opportunities for active play, to help children make choices and to pause for children to respond with non-verbal or verbal cues. This is a successful strategy for babies to help consolidate their agency and develop language and communication skills.
Play-based learning is enabled in every situation: reading books, singing rhymes and talking about the world around us (shapes, animals, numbers and colours). It also occurs during routines where intentional teaching can be incorporated with playful experiences at nappy changes, transitions and mealtimes. These are built on the foundation of children’s sense of security and belonging – the opportunities for babies and their educators to build attachment and trusting relationships through reciprocal, playful interactions which act as learning experiences.
For example, during play and routine activities, the sensitive and responsive ‘serve and return’ interactions provide a rich environment for learning and development. These interactions also build a strong foundation for future learning, development, wellbeing and health.
Everyone can build and strengthen a culture of valuing babies’ natural instinct to play. Dr Salamon suggests service leaders, educators and staff acknowledge and value the importance of a child’s right to engage in play by identifying, articulating and highlighting their learning and developmental outcomes within the service philosophy. These outcomes are all interwoven and interrelated and include physical, social, emotional and cognitive aspects of learning.
Once the notion of valuing play is embedded within your service philosophy and all governing documentation, including policies and procedures, service staff will be better supported to advocate on behalf of babies to families, carers and their communities.
StartingBlocks.gov.au, our family-focused website, has a range of useful resources that will support and promote play-based learning at home. Embedded practice will also ensure the play-based program and environment is responsive to the unique needs of babies.
Our latest quarterly NQF Snapshot finds 88% of services are rated Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above – the highest proportion since quality ratings began in 2012. The NQF Snapshot and interactive Online Snapshot summarise quality rating results and other information about education and care services operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF).
The proportion of services rated by state and territory regulatory authorities as Meeting NQS or above has risen markedly, from 57% in 2013 to 69% in 2016 to 88% today. More than two-thirds of services rated Working Towards NQS (67%) improved their overall quality rating at reassessment.
In 2021 we commenced a professional development program for Community Child Care Fund Restricted (CCCFR) services across Australia, improving quality by building safety and supervision capability. The CCCFR Quality and Safety Training Package was developed in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Education.
There are more than 160 CCCFR services, the majority of which are in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Most are regulated under state or territory based legislation or the National Quality Framework, 57 of them are under Child Care Subsidy Minister’s Rules.
The Training Package is underpinned by evaluations of ACECQA and jurisdictional evidence-based programs and research which identify the benefits of targeting service management and leaders in quality improvement and genuinely embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.
The Training Package is being delivered over two phases:
- Phase One engages all CCCFR services in eLearning modules and webinars.
- Phase Two provides additional support for the services that are not regulated by states and territories. The additional support includes a two-day workshop, a service visit and being part of communities of practice. ACECQA Facilitators support these services to put what they have learnt to enable sustainable outcomes into practice.
All webinars have now been delivered, with workshops held in Adelaide and Darwin and one to be held in Alice Springs in October. All services are very proud of the important role they are playing in children’s lives and providing safe and well supervised children’s education and care services.
Feedback received on all aspects of the training continues to be very positive:
- More than 900 reviews have been received on eLearning modules, with over 95% rating these at the highest 5 star rating.
- All survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that the training is being delivered in a culturally relevant and safe manner.
- Following Phase One, nearly 60% advised they had already made quality improvements, with the remaining planning to do so.
The Port Lincoln Children’s Centre in Adelaide highlighted the difference the training has made to their service in a letter of thanks received by ACECQA Facilitator Jess Davis: “You have all given us much to think about and supported us to ensure our practices are of high quality and the safety and supervision of our children is paramount in what we do.”
From information sheets to educational games, we have a range of supporting materials available on our website to help services deliver the National Quality Framework (NQF) and support conversations with their families.
Information sheets – offer practical strategies to support educators and providers to think about quality practice and topics related to the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard.
Family Day Care materials – guidance material for family day care providers, nominated supervisors, coordinators and educators to understand legislative responsibilities and the provision of high quality education and care.
Videos – support providers and educators to understand the NQF and educational leadership, as well as a series of quality early learning videos for families and the community about the importance and benefits of early childhood education and quality early learning.
Educational games – support and build understanding of the NQF through professional discussions and critical reflection.
You can view all our Supporting materials page on our website.
During August, children’s education and care services, schools and public libraries spend one glorious week celebrating books and Australian children's authors and illustrators.
Visit the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) website for terrific free resources created by the CBCA and partners to help you make the most of your Book Week celebrations this week.
You can also access teaching notes, judges' critiques and Reading Time reviews on the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Winners page.
Share these useful StartingBlocks.gov.au resources with your families and communities:
Reading with your child
Reading a book with a child is fun, and adults can play an important role in helping children become lifelong readers.
The following factsheets contain useful tips to help parents and carers gain confidence in reading aloud:
Help your families to understand costs
Families can use the Fees Estimator tool to check how much their child care out of pocket costs might be after the government pays them the Child Care Subsidy.