A number of changes have been made to the Excellent rating following the agreed changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) by education Ministers and ACECQA’s review of the criteria.
Commencing from 1 February 2018, the changes include:
- Eligibility –To be eligible to apply for the Excellent rating, a service must be rated Exceeding National Quality Standard in all seven Quality Areas. For Western Australia, this change will be implemented by 1 October 2018.
- Application fee – There will no longer be an application fee for the Excellent rating.
- Criteria – Two themes in Criterion 1, that are used by ACECQA to guide assessment of applications, will be combined.
More information is available in the Changes to the Excellent rating information sheet and on the ACECQA website.
Viewing excellence as a process, not a result
How can we think about excellence as an enriching process rather than a final result?
As the first family day care service in Australia to be awarded the Excellent rating by ACECQA under the National Quality Framework in 2013 – and re-awarded the rating in 2016 – Wynnum Family Day Care is passionate about sharing high quality practice and implementing a range of collaborative initiatives. This month on We Hear You, Wynnum FDC’s Educational Leader, Niki Kenny, explores some of the processes that drive the service’s exceptional practice and the principles behind them.
Three-quarters of education and care services rated Meeting NQS or above
As at 30 September 2017, 14,424 education and care services – 93% of all services approved to operate under the National Quality Framework (NQF) – have received a quality rating.*
For the first time, three-quarters of services with a quality rating were rated at Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above. There have also been just under 3000 quality rating reassessments. Of the 2179 reassessments of services rated Working Towards NQS, 69% resulted in a higher overall rating.
Both the PDF and online versions of the NQF Snapshot are available on the ACECQA website, with NQS data for all services that have received a quality rating also available for download in Excel. The data is current as at 30 September 2017.
*Since there will always be a small proportion of services (around 4%) that have only recently been approved or have only been operating for a short time, the proportion of services with a quality rating will not reach 100% at any one time.
Revised NQS commences 1 February 2018
The children’s education and care sector is looking ahead to 1 February 2018 when changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) come into effect. This will see the commencement of the revised National Quality Standard (NQS) in all states and territories, including Western Australia. The changes will strengthen quality through greater clarity, remove conceptual overlap between elements and standards and clarify language.
The Australian, state and territory governments, in partnership with ACECQA, have developed resources to help you understand what is changing and what you can do to prepare. The National Quality Standard and Operational Requirements Part A chapter, within the Guide to the NQF, reflects the revised NQS and outlines the assessment and rating process, including guidance on the Exceeding NQS rating level. This guidance clarifies the difference between the Meeting NQS and Exceeding NQS rating levels to ensure quality expectations are clear for providers, educators and assessors.
Some services are also considering how their current Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) fits with the revised NQS and when it should be updated. The Transitioning to the revised NQS information sheet includes the following guidance on QIP requirements:
- In the lead up to 1 February 2018, the assessment and rating commencement letter from your regulatory authority will specify whether your assessment visit is scheduled before or after 1 February 2018, and confirm the version of the NQS that will apply.
- As the QIP is taken into account in determining rating levels, you should consider updating your current QIP to the revised NQS.
- You should also consider what revisions may be required to align your QIP with the 1 October 2017 changes to the National Law and National Regulations.
As a team, you can also begin to identify any flow-on effect of the changes to the NQF and NQS on:
- operational requirements
- service policies and procedures
- service philosophy
- educational programs and practice
- self-assessment and the cycle of planning
- staff development and training
- communication and relationships with families
- administrative processes.
For more information about changes to the NQF, including a summary of changes, visit the ACECQA website.
Revised NQS resources
New guidance on documenting programs for children
1 October 2017 brought changes to documentation requirements for outside school hours care services in some states and territories, as well as new guidance for all services on documenting assessments or evaluations of children’s wellbeing, development and learning.
The new Guide to the National Quality Framework explains the requirements for documenting child assessments or evaluations. The guide also gives examples of the type and amount of documentation to be kept and what an authorised officer will look for during an assessment and rating visit.
It suggests that, when preparing documentation, consider the period of time children are being educated and cared for, how the documentation will be used by educators at the service, and whether the documentation is readily understandable by educators and families.
You can familiarise yourself with the changes and continuing requirements around documentation by reviewing the Guide to the NQF: Operational Requirements – Quality Area 1.
Our information sheet on documenting programs for school age children is another handy tool.
24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years
The Australian Government has launched its first national guidelines which make recommendations for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep – Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years.
These guidelines take a more holistic view of children’s experience as they reference a 24-hour period, recognising each movement behaviour is integral to health and interlinked. In this sense, they respect the natural and intuitive integration of movement behaviours across 24 hours. This approach provides education and care services and families a shared platform to look at children’s needs for physical activity and sleep across the child’s day, while considering a movement continuum.
The guidelines provide an opportunity to work collaboratively with families, with the child at the centre of decision-making about how much time is spent sleeping, or engaged in sedentary pursuits or physical activity at the service and the home. Integration of these three behaviours is an approach recently used by Canada, and builds on Australia’s current national guidelines which focus solely on physical activity and sedentary behaviour for children from birth to five years of age.
The Australian Government commissioned the University of Wollongong to update the current National Recommendations for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour for children birth-5 years. The Australian Department of Health, ACECQA, Early Childhood Australia, New South Wales Department of Education, National Heart Foundation, New Zealand Ministry of Health, as well as researchers and academics, contributed to the process.
The release of the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years have been coordinated to occur concurrently with Canada in November 2017.
These guidelines will be included in the new Guide to the National Quality Framework to support education and care services to ensure physical activity is promoted in appropriate ways, while children’s individual comfort and wellbeing requirements are being met. You might want to consider the guidance on the ACECQA website to ensure your service is meeting new requirements about safe sleep practices. Additional information about sleep and rest is also available on our Facebook page.
Questions to guide reflection:
- How do we arrange routine times to ensure children are able to follow their individual needs or preferences, including arrangements for children who do not need or wish to sleep or rest when other children do?
- How do we share information with children and families about children’s wellbeing, physical comfort or personal needs, to support children sensitively within the service?
- How do we monitor the amount of time children spend in sedentary pursuits? How will we use this information to inform our programs and practices?
Evaluating the National Quality Framework
The National Quality Framework (NQF) evaluation framework was developed by ACECQA in collaboration with the Australian and state and territory governments to provide all governments with an agreed way of understanding whether and how the NQF is meeting its objectives.
It gives governments a common reference point when considering existing and future research activities. It is also relevant to universities, research institutions and other stakeholders that wish to contribute to the NQF evidence base by commissioning and undertaking research in line with the framework.
ACECQA’s own research and evaluation activities will align to one or more of the objectives of the NQF, and contribute evidence towards answering the key evaluation questions and sub questions outlined in the evaluation framework. This is elaborated upon in our five-year strategy and implementation plan for research and evaluation, published earlier this year.
The NQF evaluation framework and implementation plan are available as part of our Research and reports page. This page provides NQF related research and evidence, including:
- Australian Government Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Censuses and Early Childhood and Child Care in Summary Reports
- Australian Government Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data and reports
- Productivity Commission Reports on Government Services
- OECD Starting Strong reports
- ACECQA NQF Snapshots, occasional papers, and families and regulatory burden research.
Extension of staffing transitional provisions reminder
The Education Council has agreed to extend five transitional provisions in the National Regulations relating to staffing requirements.
The following provisions are to be extended:
- Regulation 239A (WA, QLD, TAS, SA, NT and NSW) – extended to 1 January 2020
- Regulation 240 (WA, QLD, TAS, SA) – extended to 1 January 2020
- Regulation 242 (WA, QLD, TAS, SA, NT, NSW, ACT) – extended to 1 January 2020
- Regulation 264 (ACT) – extended to 31 December 2020
- Regulation 300 (QLD) – extended to 1 January 2020.
SkillsIQ training package review
The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) has commissioned SkillsIQ to review six children’s education and care qualifications, including the national Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. We would encourage employers, educators and staff at registered training organisations (RTOs) to take the opportunity to provide feedback on the training package.
The national consultation is open until 14 February 2018 and includes forums, webinars and opportunities for online feedback, as well as workshops during November and December.
More information and links to the workshops are available on the SkillsIQ website.