Wednesday 24 August, 2016
Why are we so afraid to march to the beat of our own drum?
This month on We Hear You, Meghan Woods, an early childhood teacher and member of the Educational Leadership Working Group at Gumnut Cottage, located on the campus of Macquarie University in Sydney, reflects on the important role of a service’s philosophy and the key issue that might be driving practice in early childhood education and care services across Australia.
NQF Snapshot shows education and care sector growth and continuous improvement
Australia’s education and care sector continues to grow and quality improvement is taking place under the National Quality Standard (NQS), according to new data in the latest Snapshot report.
The performance of services in reassessment is particularly pleasing, with two-thirds of services receiving a higher overall quality rating. With so many reassessed services receiving a higher rating, there is evidence to suggest the National Quality Framework is working as intended, driving quality and continuous improvement.
This means that families with children entering education and care for the first time can know they are entering a sector that encourages services to improve their programs and practices, providing children with quality experiences early in life that can lead to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life.
With 80% of services assessed and rated, the Snapshot gives a clearer understanding of which areas of the NQS services perform well against, as well as those they find more challenging.
An interactive online version of the NQF Snapshot is available for users to sort and search for information, along with an Excel workbook that includes additional assessment and rating data.
First impressions count
When we think about establishing strong, collaborative relationships with families and parents who are new to your service, it can be the first impressions that count.
What strategies are used at your service to help all families feel welcome and accepted to build a sense of belonging? Does your service acknowledge and value the diversity of the family backgrounds and compositions?
All families are different; children have diverse understandings of what makes up a ‘family’ and the relationships with the people who are most important in their lives.
As the primary influence, families have strong beliefs and values about the education and care of their children. Quality Area 6 of the National Quality Standard (NQS) reflects the importance of these relationships and collaborations, with Standard 6.1 emphasising a welcoming environment and orientation process, and Element 6.1.2 stressing the involvement and contribution of families to the service.
First impressions are the initial building blocks to developing connections and trust with parents and families. Creating a welcoming environment will put families at ease, as will open communication and an engagement that respects cultural identity and diversity. Providing a physical environment and spaces that support opportunities for families to actively contribute and discuss the service, the program and their children’s experiences are also ways to forge stronger collaborative ties and reinforce the inclusiveness your service is building.
If at any point you are uncertain about the first impression your service makes or you want some honest feedback to help you develop your practice and processes, you might want to consider asking a trusted friend or colleague to visit your service. Allow them to take on the role of a new family member coming into the service and experience the environment and the ways you communicate to develop relationships and trust.
Families could also provide helpful feedback on their orientation experience and suggest ideas you might incorporate into your communication strategies and service design. Along with these new families, you might also think about approaching those who are established at your service to give you another perspective.
Looking for ideas? Read our National Education Leader’s Collaborative partnerships with families and communities blog post.
Fact sheet for families
Starting Blocks has released a fact sheet to help families understand key requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF).
The fact sheet explains the quality improvement plan, quality ratings and educational program. It also describes how services are regulated; what parents can expect to be informed about; and that various policies and records are kept including the compliance record.
Families may be interested to see these documents which provide another opportunity to talk about the measures your service is putting in place to continuously improve the quality of education and care.
Visit the Starting Blocks website for more resources for families, including a fact sheet explaining the National Quality Standard and quality ratings.
National Workshop in ACT
Bookings are now open for the Australian Capital Territory workshop focusing on Agency of the Child. The 2.5 hour interactive workshop will be led by ACECQA’s National Education Leader in partnership with the regulatory authority on 20 September 2016.
Register now to secure your spot.
Changes to the NQA ITS
Have you logged on to the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) lately? On Friday 19 August we made some changes to the look and feel of the online application and notification forms, including improved functionality around uploading documents and user navigation.
If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact the NQA ITS technical support desk.
Announcement of ACECQA CEO departure
Acting Chair of the ACECQA Board Judy Hebblethwaite has announced that ACECQA’s inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Karen Curtis advised the Board she will not seek re-appointment when her current term concludes at the end of the year.
On behalf of the Board, Ms Hebblethwaite thanked Ms Curtis for her outstanding contribution and significant achievements in establishing and leading ACECQA since 2011, working collaboratively with the states and territories and the Australian Government to successfully implement the National Quality Framework and building ACECQA into a high performing organisation.
The Board will now undertake a recruitment process with an expectation a new CEO will be appointed from 1 January 2017. Read more on the ACECQA website.
ACECQA's Occasional Paper series
Did you know ACECQA has released two occasional papers analysing the first two quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS)?
The occasional series provides insights into the NQS quality ratings for education and care services in Australia.
The first in the occasional series examines Quality Area 1 – Educational Program and Practice, with the focus on how service providers perform against the standards and elements of this area. The paper examines the pattern of quality rating across service types, socio economic and remoteness classifications, jurisdictions and management types.
Quality Area 2 – Children’s Health and Safety, the second in the series, looks into one of the primary objectives of the National Quality Framework – ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of children attending education and care services. Along with a detailed analysis of the requirements of Quality Area 2, the paper highlights Standard 2.3 and Element 2.3.3 as the most challenging aspects of the Quality Area for services.
Occasional Paper 1: Educational program and practice
Occasional Paper 2: Children’s health and safety
National Education and Care Services Ombudsman reappointed
The Education Council has reappointed Ms Lesley Foster as the National Education and Care Services Ombudsman, Freedom of Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner to 30 June 2018.
Read more on the Education and Care Services Ombudsman website.