Element 1.3.2: Critical reflection

Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, drives program planning and implementation.

What Element 1.3.2 aims to achieve

Reflective practice is a form of ongoing learning that involves educators thinking about all aspects of the program, the principles that guide them, the practices they use and the learning outcomes for children. It drives educators’ program planning and implementation. Educational leaders support educators to become increasingly thoughtful about their work, to analyse their actions objectively and motivate them to reflect and explore new ideas and approaches as part of daily practice.

Reflective practice is an ongoing, dynamic process that supports educators to think honestly and critically about all aspects of professional practice, including whether all children and families are included. Reflective practice guides educators to gather information from different perspectives to gain insights that will support, inform and enrich their decision-making about each child’s learning.

Critical reflection involves closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from different perspectives, with a focus on implications for equity, inclusion and diversity. It takes reflective practice to a deeper level and includes educators analysing or diagnosing what happened and why. For example:

  • why educators may have responded in the way they did
  • how educators felt
  • why educators made certain decisions
  • what may have influenced educators’ actions
  • which theoretical perspectives educators draw on in their decision-making (whether deliberately or subconsciously).

Critical reflection helps educators to build on their knowledge and skills, identifying practice that can be continued as well as what might need to be improved or changed. It also helps educators to identify ways to improve opportunities for children’s participation, learning and development.

Educational leaders support educators to consider questions such as:

  • How do we currently examine our practices and decision-making, and identify improvements as well as successes?
  • Have we considered which children may be advantaged and whether any child is disadvantaged?
  • How do we use the approved learning framework/s to help us reflect?
  • How are we creating opportunities for conversations, debates, and collaborative inquiries as a team, ensuring that all voices are heard and responded to with respect?
  • What questions do I have about my work? What am I challenged by? What am I curious about? What am I confronted by?
  • What strategies do I use to demonstrate that I value diversity and work to ensure all children have opportunities to fully participate in the program? (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.3.2 (for all services)

Critical reflection


Assessors may observe educators:

  • working with children to document and reflect on their experiences and learning
  • using a variety of methods, such as jottings, children’s comments and conversations, photographs and examples of children’s work, to assist their reflection on children’s experiences, thinking and learning
  • focusing on adapting the program to include all children, rather than adapting a child’s routine or requirements to fit the program
  • reflecting-in-action by changing or altering experiences which are not engaging children
  • speaking briefly to one another during the day about aspects of practice that they have changed or need to change
  • making brief notes when appropriate so that they can recall an aspect of practice that may be challenging them, or that they may have questions about.

Assessors may discuss:

  • how reflective practice, including critical reflection, is used as an ongoing process in the service
  • how the educational leader supports educators to engage in reflective practice that is in line with current recognised approaches
  • how educators use critical reflection to make changes to their program and practice
  • the opportunities available for educators to reflect on the events of each day, including thinking about what happened and why, the successes and what can be extended or changed
  • how educators reflect on whether the program is an inclusive learning environment and supports each child to participate fully or if there are barriers to participation
  • how children’s comments about their experiences of the program are recorded and considered as part of the reflection process
  • whether information gathered provides insights about curriculum decision-making that supports and extends children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • how the educational leader promotes a culture of professional enquiry, where practices and outcomes are reviewed and new ideas are generated.

Assessors may sight:

  • documentation that shows evidence of critical reflection, such as reflection journals or diaries
  • documentation that reflects on all aspects of the program and may include jottings about:
    • the effectiveness of arrivals/departures,
    • interactions, responsiveness and relationships with particular children
    • transitions and routines
    • planned experiences and spontaneous child directed learning
    • incidental and planned group times
    • the environment and experiences provided
    • intentional teaching strategies
    • communication with colleagues and families
    • any other aspects of practice to prompt further thinking and discussion
    • the effectiveness of resources and equipment used
    • experiences and learning outcomes achieved
    • review of curriculum content and pedagogy
  • if the service has a Strategic Inclusion Plan, how the service reflects on adaptations made to reduce barriers to participation.