- National Quality Framework
- Guide to the NQF
- Section 4: Operational Requirements
- Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice
Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice
1.1 Approved learning frameworks
[ National Law, Section 168 ] The approved provider and nominated supervisor of an approved service must ensure that a program is delivered to all children being educated and cared for by the service that:
- the child will have a strong sense of identity
- the child will be connected with and contribute to his or her world
- the child will have a strong sense of wellbeing
- the child will be a confident and involved learner
- the child will be an effective communicator.
[ National Regulations, Regulation 73 ] An educational program is to contribute to the following outcomes for each child:
- is based on an approved learning framework
- is delivered in accordance with that approved learning framework
- is based on the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child
- is designed to take into account the individual differences of each child.
[ National Regulations, Regulation 254 ] There are two national approved learning frameworks that recognise children learn from birth, linked to the National Quality Standard (NQS). These are:
- Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (‘Early Years Learning Framework’)
- My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (‘Framework for School Age Care’).
There is also an approved learning framework specific to Victoria:
- Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, Department of Education and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
The approved learning frameworks include principles, practices and learning outcomes that guide educational leaders and educators in their curriculum decision-making, and assist them in planning, delivering and evaluating quality programs in early and middle childhood settings.
The ages of children who attend an education and care service should determine which of the two national approved learning frameworks is used, rather than the service type or setting.
If children preschool age or under and children over preschool age regularly attend a service, educators are expected to use both frameworks as the basis for the educational program. This does not necessarily require that separate experiences or programs be offered; rather that consideration is given to the features of the frameworks in the implementation of the educational program.
For example, if one or more preschool age children regularly attend a service for school age children, the approved provider and nominated supervisor must ensure the Early Years Learning Framework, or relevant parts of a jurisdiction-specific approved learning framework, form the foundation for the interactions and environments provided for those preschool age children and their families.
In developing the program it is important to gather, analyse and interpret information about children that is:
- meaningful and relevant to children as individuals and in groups
- capturing an understanding of their identity, knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture (including popular culture), abilities and interests
- descriptive of what children are investigating and exploring
- an authentic example of what children know, can do and understand
- focused on learning, progress and achievements.
Authorised officers consider a range of factors when determining if a service meets the NQS and the National Law and Regulations, such as:
- how educators collect and interpret information about children for program development
- how services develop programs that are responsive to and promote children’s wellbeing, development and learning
- how educators critically think about what is offered and why
- how documentation or information about the development of the program shows an ongoing cycle of planning and evaluation, informing children’s experiences in the program.
1.2 Information to be kept and available
Information about educational program to be kept available
[ National Regulations, Regulation 75 ] Information about the contents and operation of the educational program must be displayed at the education and care service premises at a place that is accessible to parents and families.
A copy of the educational program must be available at the following places for inspection on request:
- for a centre-based service, at the education and care service premises
- for a family day care service, at each family day care residence or venue.
Information about educational program to be given to parents
[ National Regulations, Regulation 76 ] The following information must be given to the parent of a child on request:
- information about the content and operation of the educational program as it relates to that child
- information about that child’s participation in the program
- a copy of assessments or evaluations in relation to that child.
Documenting of child assessments or evaluations for delivery of educational program
[ National Regulations, Regulation 74 ] For a child of preschool age or under, this documentation must include:
- assessments of the child’s developmental needs, interests, experiences and participation in the educational program
- assessments of the child’s progress against the outcomes of the educational program.
For a child over preschool age, this documentation must include:
- evaluations of the child’s wellbeing, development and learning.
In preparing the documentation, the approved provider must:
- consider the period of time that the child is being educated and cared for by the service
- consider how the documentation will be used by the educators at the service
- prepare the documentation in a way that is readily understandable by the educators at the service and the parents of the child.
The approved learning frameworks state that, in the early childhood context, assessment for children’s learning refers to the process of gathering and analysing information as evidence about what children know, can do and understand (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 17). For school age children, evaluation for wellbeing and learning refers to processes such as scanning, monitoring, gathering and analysing information about how children feel and what children know, can do and understand (Framework for School Age Care, p. 16).
Educators can also use assessment and evaluation information to critically reflect on their own values, beliefs and teaching practices, and to communicate about children’s learning with children and their families.
Type and amount of documentation to be kept
There is no prescribed method in the National Law or Regulations for documenting the educational program, assessments or evaluations. There are many different electronic, visual and paper based ways to document. A service can explore a range of styles and methods to determine what works best for their children, families and educators.
The National Law and Regulations do not prescribe how much documentation is needed for the educational program or for individual child assessments or evaluations over a set period of time. This will be influenced by the number, ages and capabilities of children and how often they attend the service, among other things.
Authorised officers consider a range of factors when determining if a service meets the NQS and regulation 74, with a focus on how the documentation is used to support the delivery of the educational program and quality outcomes for children, rather than the amount or type of documentation.
Authorised officers may discuss with the service:
- the phases of program planning and the information and documentation gathered at each phase and how it is used
- how the service decided what form of documentation is appropriate, and how the documentation is readily understood by families
- how educators draw upon various theoretical influences and perspectives to inform the program and maximise opportunities for all children to engage and participate
- how educators use the documentation to plan for each child’s learning and to support quality outcomes for children
- how children are involved in documenting their own wellbeing, development and learning, and contribute to the development of the program.
Examples of educational program and assessment and evaluation documentation for all service types
There are many electronic, visual and paper based ways to document the educational program and assessments or evaluations, including individual and group observations. Some ideas:
- enrolment information and input from families
- details on children’s strengths, ideas, abilities and interests along with ongoing evidence of children’s engagement and participation in the program
- learning stories or narratives of key events
- photographs with captions, photographic sequences, video or audio recordings
- observations such as jottings, anecdotes or running records
- learning and/or reflective journals
- surveys and feedback forms
- notes from meetings or conversations with children, families, staff colleagues and other professionals
- communication or floor books
- portfolios or scrap books including samples of children’s work, artwork and writings
- collection of children’s feedback, ideas and suggestions including children’s own documentation on the program
- visual displays including mind maps, diagrams, sketches and curriculum pathways
- quality improvement plans
- electronic records or Apps
- language transcripts and notes
- feedback from families and educators on the program and practice.
Documentation proportionate to a child's pattern of attendance for school age children in ACT, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia
ACT SA TAS VIC WA In school age care services the focus is on children’s wellbeing as well as recreation and leisure time. Educators collaborate with children to provide play and leisure opportunities that are meaningful to children and support their wellbeing, learning and development.
Documenting evaluations of a child’s wellbeing, development and learning can be impacted by varying (and sometimes infrequent) attendance patterns of school age children in comparison to other service types.
Evaluation documentation can be collected proportionate to a child’s pattern of attendance at the service.
Authorised officers consider a range of factors when determining if a service meets the NQS and regulation 74, including:
- children attending the service frequently, such as children who attend regular mornings and afternoons each week will have more information collected and used to inform curriculum decision-making and the program over the course of a year
- children attending the service infrequently, such as ad hoc days during school term or vacation care, or for short periods of time, will have less information collected and used to inform curriculum decision-making and the program.
Documentation for school age children in Northern Territory, NSW and Queensland
[ National Regulations, NT Regulation 289A, NSW Regulation 274A, QLD Regulation 298A ] Services in the Northern Territory, NSW and Queensland are not required to keep documentation of individual evaluations of school age children. To meet requirements the approved provider must ensure that, for the purposes of the educational program for a child over preschool age, evidence about the development of the program is documented.
Services with a mix of school age children and children preschool age or under are still required to document individual child assessments for the children preschool age or under.