ACECQA Newsletter Issue 9 2023
This month, we continue our focus on supporting your role as an approved provider, educational leader, co-ordinator, teacher and educator.
As an early childhood education and care professional, it is important to keep up to date with what is changing: what is best practice; how is the National Quality Framework (NQF), as a dynamic and shared quality framework, adapting to new evidence; and what resources are available to help you and your families in our fast paced and ever changing world.
The objective of the NQF to promote continuous quality improvement in the provision of quality education and care services is a shared responsibility for governments, regulatory authorities, services, teachers, educators and ACECQA. At ACECQA, this means that we work with expert organisations, peak bodies, higher education specialists, providers and government agencies to bring you the latest resources and information so that you are able to provide every child with education and care best suited to them, their families and communities. Did you know, for example, that we have a free online induction to the NQF module and a series of fact sheets on the refreshed Approved Learning Frameworks?
Of course, change is always with us as we prepare for the last few months of 2023 and the start of a new year. Each new experience in our lives has the potential to be exciting, frightening or both. For children, young people and their families, starting formal schooling or starting high school is an important and sometimes challenging milestone as they prepare for, and experience, new routines, learning environments, relationships and friendship groups. This month, we take a close look at preparing young children for change through play-based experiences.
This month, there are a number of key dates including World Teachers’ Day on 5 October and Children’s Week from 21 October. It is an opportunity to reflect on our roles as teachers and advocates for children’s rights and achievements: how we inspire them to great things and contribute to, and support, their agency as active and informed citizens.
The NQF has been very successful in helping services to improve programs, practices and policies for more than a decade with our quarterly Snapshot. We regularly receive requests from countries all over the world to share the story of how system, structure and process components of quality work together under the Framework. In July, we received visitors from the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology who had heard about the success of the NQF. We share their interest areas in this edition.
Without doubt, all components of the Framework are essential but the collective commitment of all players to continuous quality improvement (and supporting each other to achieve this goal) is unique. So as always, we hope you will share any articles that have been of interest with your families and colleagues.
The decisions made by Education Ministers from the 2019 NQF Review are published on the nqfreview.com.au website which includes the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) and FAQs relating to all changes to the National Law and National Regulations.
To help services understand and implement the changes, the changes have been incremental and on 1 October the third round for the majority of jurisdictions will commence* as follows:
- Improve the safety and wellbeing of children by:
- Enhancing sleep and rest policies and procedures requirements, including the content of risk assessments
- Strengthening approval processes for centre-based services and family day care venues to be located in multi-storey buildings, by requiring additional information about the proposed premises and layout to be provided to the regulatory authority
- Requiring providers of services operating in multi-storey buildings to have more robust, risk-based emergency and evacuation procedures in place
- Enhancing policies, procedures and risk assessments required for the safe arrival of children
- Further embedding the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations into the NQF including a small number of items found to not already be addressed in the Education and Care Services National Law (i.e., new obligations for volunteers and students, child protection training for family day care (FDC) coordinators, and enhanced requirements for policies and procedures on providing a child safe environment and managing complaints)
- Prescribing currency periods for first aid qualifications
- Requiring providers of centre-based services to notify the regulatory authority of any changes to the ages of children or the nature of care offered at the service
- Strengthening regulatory authority oversight and improved information sharing of service transfers between providers, regulators and families
- Increasing penalties in line with CPI increases since the commencement of the NQF.
- Amend requirements for the FDC sector to strengthen regulatory oversight and safety by:
- Improving the provision of information on the FDC Register to regulators, including where educators are operating under exceptional circumstances
- Providing additional guidance on safety requirements, compliance with fencing requirements and requiring monthly inspections at FDC residences and venues that have swimming pools, water features and other potential water hazards**
- Mandating nationally consistent requirements for safety glass used in FDC residences and venues
- Mandating new processes for FDC educators to inform approved providers of any circumstance that may affect whether residents are fit and proper to be in the company of children, or any other circumstances arising that may pose a risk to children’s health, safety or wellbeing.
- Improve the provision of NQF information to families by:
- Providing greater transparency and timeliness on when services are transferred between providers
- Requiring the quality assessment and rating certificate to be clearly visible at every FDC residence or venue
- Requiring providers of FDC services to display a diagram of areas of residences and venues that are assessed to be suitable for education and care
- Enhancing consent processes for the disclosure of information held by approved providers.
New and updated guidance has been prepared for other recommendations arising from the Review. Information sheets are available on our website. The Guide to the NQF will also be updated and is now available in a new online format, as well as the interactive PDF format. New content will also be added to the Guide to the NQF to assist services to implement the updates in v2.0 of the national Approved Learning Frameworks.
Providers and services can also view a summary of the 2023 NQF changes with links to key legislation and supporting resources on the ACECQA website at NQF changes overview.
*The implementation of this round of regulatory changes will be delayed for services in Western Australia. Contact your regulatory authority for further information
**Jurisdiction-specific requirements apply in Tasmania and Western Australia
As mentioned in our previous newsletter, from 1 October 2023* services will be required to address prescribed matters in their sleep and rest policies and procedures. These will include services conducting a sleep and rest risk assessment at least once every 12 months and, as soon as practicable, after becoming aware of any circumstance that may affect the safety, health or wellbeing of children during sleep and rest.
From 1 October 2023*, bassinets will be prohibited from education and care service premises while children are being educated and cared for. This change has been introduced to implement a recent NSW Coronial recommendation.
*The implementation of this round of regulatory changes will be delayed for services in Western Australia. Contact your regulatory authority for further information.
For detailed information about the new requirements, visit our Sleep and rest legislative requirements page. We also encourage you to access the latest authorised version of the Guide to the NQF in October.
Also in preparation for the upcoming changes, a critical reflection of existing policies and procedures and risk assessment processes in relation to sleep and rest is beneficial. You may wish to take the opportunity to reflect on how your service considers:
- current health guidelines on the best practices to adopt from recognised authorities (such as Red Nose Australia) to ensure the safety of children during sleep and rest
- safety advice from recognised authorities and manufacturers when using and arranging equipment, furniture and experiences such as Kidsafe Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- requests from families about a child's sleep and rest, and cultural preferences.
Visit Red Nose Safe Sleeping to support your conversations with families. Download the Sleep and rest for children policy and procedure guidelines for information and guidelines on developing sleep and rest for children policy and procedures.
A suite of new resources has been developed by Red Nose Australia in consultation with key stakeholders to support risk assessment processes and implementation of safe sleep practices. These include:
- Safe Sleep Risk Assessment Guidance Document-Individual risk
- Safe Sleep Risk Assessment Checklist Tool-Individual risk
- Safe Sleep Conversations
- Safe Sleep & Rest Physical Checks Template
- Safe Sleep Monitoring Checklist-poster
Access the free resources at Red Nose Australia.
Ensuring children are set up for success during their transition to school prepares them to build confidence for new experiences including success in future learning and skills development. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia V2.0 and National Quality Standard recognise the importance of successful transitions and embedding continuity by sharing relevant information with and about each child and clarifying responsibilities.
As education and care professionals, you know the value of play-based learning (sometimes called ‘age appropriate pedagogy’) in preparing children to face the progression of their lives. Through active play, they build their skills and confidence in self-regulation, resilience, respectful relationships, communication and socio-emotional development. Research is clear that children flourish during their transition to school when they have developed these skills through play, enabling a strong sense of belonging to their new environment.
As we head towards the end of the year, services are critically reflecting on how they showcase their play-based approaches to transition to school practices with families.
For example, a family has indicated they place significant importance on specific literacy and numeracy tasks for their child’s preparedness for school. In response, the service hosts a transition to school information event for families to showcase their play-based curriculum, documentation, philosophy or pedagogies.
- The documentation emphasises the learning of specific literacy and numeracy skills identified by the family, through child led experiences such as children’s explorations of mark making using sticks and other natural materials in the outdoor environment.
- This event allows families to understand how literacy and numeracy concepts can be embedded in play as well as discussing how children are more inclined to participate when these play based experiences are led by them.
Preparation for transitions is a consistent process that begins the moment each child is enrolled at an education and care service. It provides opportunities to foster foundational skills that children will use throughout their life.
The Grow&Go Toolbox is a free food and nutrition online library designed to support education and care professionals. It's a comprehensive kit of nutrition resources that can support children’s healthy eating and be shared with a service’s families and children.
The project to develop the unique database was funded by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care through a Public Health and Chronic Disease grant and completed at The University of Queensland.
A Valuable Resource at Your Fingertips
Educators play a vital role in shaping the future of Australia’s children, nurturing not only their minds but also their bodies. Ensuring that children in education and care services receive the best possible food and nutrition is paramount, and that's where using the Grow&Go Toolbox can help.
Easy Access to Credible Information: The Toolbox contains over 1700 evidence-based resources on food and nutrition for young children. Each resource is checked by a nutrition expert, ensuring that services have access to the most reliable and up-to-date information.
Help families find health professionals: Via the unique ‘Find a Health Professional Tool’, educators can guide parents and carers to the appropriate health profession who can help families overcome any difficulties with food or feeding development.
Find free professional development and education and care specific resources: The Toolbox provides links to freely accessible programs and resources for the education and care sector, focused on child nutrition, including state specific guidelines and reference to the national quality framework.
Supporting Families on their Nutrition Journey
By using the Grow&Go Toolbox, education and care services become a valuable resource for the families with whom they work. You can confidently provide them with evidence-based information and resources, helping them navigate the sometimes confusing world of childhood nutrition. Whether it's introducing solids, managing picky eating, or supporting additional needs, services have the resources at their fingertips to print out and give to families or direct them to the digital resource.
Get Started Today
To experience the Grow&Go Toolbox and explore how it can enhance your role as an early childhood educator, visit www.growandgotoolbox.com. Use the QR code to access the Toolbox and follow their social media accounts.
On 18 July, we hosted a delegation from the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (MoECRT). Anindito (Nino) Aditomo, the Head of MoECRT, and his colleagues met with representatives from ACECQA and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The Innovation for Indonesia's School Children (INOVASI) program is a partnership between the Governments of Australia and Indonesia. The delegation was particularly interested in Australia's assessment and rating system, the defined functions of ACECQA and regulatory authorities, the role of authorised officers, and evidence-based programs and resources which support services’ quality improvement.
Did you know that ACECQA is governed by a 13-member board appointed by Education Ministers? In addition to the Chair, there is a nominee from each state and territory and four nominees made by the Australian Government. Read about each of our Board members here.
From 1 July 2023, all new Persons with Management or Control (PMCs) need to create a PRODA account (also known as a PRODA ID). We have recently updated these two frequently asked questions (FAQs) on our website to provide information about the strengthened security of personal information for new Persons with Management or Control (PMC):
- What is PRODA and a Registration Authority (RA) number?
- What are the advantages of having a PRODA account?
There are 21 FAQs about Joined-up National Law and Family Assistance Law (for CCS) Provider/Service available on the ACECQA website.
The approved learning frameworks for Australia V2.0 reflect the image of children and young people as competent and capable, including infants from birth, recognising them as active citizens of the present, regardless of whether or not they were born in Australia or choose to become an Australian citizens.
Active citizenship is about children and young people being influential contributors to their local and wider communities, demonstrating values such as respect, inclusion and helping others (Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) mirrors these perspectives, stating children have the right to form their own opinions on issues that affect them and freely express those views.
For very young children, the curriculum can be complex, particularly when educators reflect on how infants with limited verbal language can have a voice in decision making and a sense of agency.
As strong and reciprocal relationships form the basis of mutual trust for very young children, it is important educators foster a sense of security so that infants feel confident and comfortable to freely explore and learn from the world around them.
As infants and educators learn more about one another, there becomes the opportunity to better understand how their views, ideas and perspectives are expressed other than through their words.
Educators understand how to intently listen to and observe children’s play, behaviours, actions, and words and analyse their learning for the basis of curriculum planning
When educators notice an infant intently watching their peer, smiling, and cooing, we know that they are seeking interaction and engagement from their body language. Educators may use intentional strategies to support infants to express this want to their peer, by verbalising this on their behalf and then supporting the interaction to unfold between the children.
As educators verbalise infants perceived wants, needs and ideas, infants learn words to formulate future conversations. The careful and intentional use of words therefore acts as an important consideration in infant curriculum. As educators are attuned to infants and respond to their unique ways of making contributions, infants are respected as active participants in their learning communities.
While educators value infants’ voices within the education and care service, infants can also make active contributions to their wider communities
Research by Phillips (2010) considers the concepts of ‘participation’ and ‘consultation’ as an integral part of active citizenship. Educators may consider how the curriculum supports infants to be actively engaged in community issues as a way of being active citizens. This may include involving very young children in the public consultation process of local town planning that includes familiar spaces or program initiatives that affects them, for example the design of children’s playgrounds or library programs.
Educators can therefore represent and advocate for infants as they understand how they best learn from or interact with their communities. This involvement supports mutually beneficial partnerships between early education and care services and local governments to ensure child related community initiatives are cost effective and well utilised (Bartholomaeus, Gregoric and Krieg, 2016).
Services may critically reflect upon how they advocate for the rights of infants and celebrate their practice throughout children’s week. For more information visit https://childrens-week.org.au/.
Bartholomaeus, C, Gregoric, C. & Krieg, S. (2016), ‘Young Children as Active Citizens in Local Government: Possibilities and challenges from an Australian perspective’, International Journal of Early Childhood, 48. 10.1007/s13158-016-0158-0.
Phillips, Louise. (2010), ‘Young children’s active citizenship: storytelling, stories, and social actions’, PhD diss., Queensland University of Technology.
Welcome back to our blog series of articles written to support you, your team and your service to understand and work towards Exceeding NQS. In our first article, we looked at where to start on your journey and the Exceeding NQS resources available to support you in this.
For the next three parts of the blog series, we will be looking at each of the Exceeding NQS themes commencing with Theme 1 - Practice is embedded in service operations.
Let’s look to the theme title itself - What is embedded in service operations?
At the Exceeding NQS level, when practice is ‘embedded’ this means the high quality identified practice is the usual practice demonstrated by the service for the Standard. These high quality practices would then be seen as embedded in service operations when they occur consistently and intentionally as part of the ongoing processes of the service. These high quality practices should be understood and implemented by all educators as appropriate for their role and responsibilities. Embedded practice has a clear intent that reflects a deep understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘how.’
Depending on the quality area and the high quality practice itself, this may be evident in service routines, relationships, program, and planning. It may also be evident in interactions between educators, service leadership structure, children, families and the community.
What is observed, discussed and/or sighted should also align with the service’s philosophy, the principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s, and the service’s policies and procedures that relate specifically to the Standard.
When it is identified that a high quality practice exists how does the Authorised Officer determine if they are embedded in service operations at an Exceeding NQS level?
Authorised officers will use a variety of strategies to gather evidence for all service practices during a visit. They may be able to observe the high quality practices in action and may also speak to the service team as well as the educational leader and nominated supervisor. This would determine if the high quality practices are ongoing and are understood and implemented by all educators.
Authorised Officers may also need to seek documentary evidence reflective of the practice that has been identified and the specific service context.
Additionally, authorised officers will refer to the questions in the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) to assist in determining if the specific practice(s) are truly embedded.
To further support your service in understanding embedded practice at an Exceeding NQS level for each Standard, you may wish to consider:
- Are we demonstrating a practice that is above and beyond meeting for this Standard?
- Does this high quality practice relate to the intent of the whole Standard (the Guide to the NQF provides an overview of the intent and Exceeding guidance for each Standard)
- Are all staff demonstrating this practice or is it a few key staff that implement this high quality practice and can explain the why behind their practice?
- If key staff were to be absent or leave the service, would the high quality practices continue?
- Do all staff understand how the importance of the high quality practice and how it supports the Standard?
- Are high quality practices for this Standard evident, where relevant, across various aspects of service operations?
- Can you “see” it in practice through observations?
- Can educators and the leadership team articulate practices and their importance?
- Have you included the high quality practice within any service documentation that supports educators to embed the high quality practice?
When the whole team embeds high quality practices with a shared understanding, purpose and agency. Embedded practice creates a consistently high quality education and care environment that benefits children, families, and the broader service community.
For more information
- The Exceeding NQS webpage on the ACECQA website includes a series of case studies that offer practical and illustrative examples of what high quality practice may look like for each Standard in a variety of settings
- Our New Guidance on Determining Exceeding NQS for Standards information sheet clarifies the difference between Meeting NQS and Exceeding NQS levels.
As families prepare their children for the next transition in their education and care, it’s a great time to help parents and carers understand the important role services have through their policies, programs and practices in their child’s education and development. The following resources may be of interest to families.
Factsheet: The importance of play in children’s learning and development
What does a play based approach to learning look like? This family-focused factsheet explains how children develop skills and understandings through play.
Factsheet: Transition to school
There are a range of transition to school experiences that many services can, and do, implement to support children transitioning to school.
Factsheet: Supporting children during transitions
During the early childhood years children experience many transitions, whether in long day care, family day care, preschool or outside school hours care. This factsheet provides tips for families on how to support their child.
Factsheet: What children wear to education and care
The clothes children wear can affect the development of their independence and self-help skills. In early learning, what your child wears may also influence their health, safety, comfort, and wellbeing.
Information suitable for publishing on websites and in newsletters
We encourage families to visit StartingBlocks.gov.au to learn more about quality practices and find an education and care service which best meets their circumstances and needs.
- The family focused Startingblocks.gov.au website provides resources that explain the NQF and NQS in plain English for families.
- Families can use the popular Startingblocks.gov.au website Find Child Care tool to search for quality services near home or work.