ACECQA’s mythbuster team address what’s fact from fiction and dispel some of the myths around assessments and ratings, procedures, qualifications, training, educator to child ratios, applying for an Excellent rating, waivers and National Registers.
If you have any mythbusters you would like cracked please email the Enquiries team or post them on the ACECQA Facebook page.
MYTHBUSTERS - Assessment and Ratings
Myth: Providers need to spend an extensive period of time preparing for the assessment.
Busted: Providers are not required to do things differently for their assessment, however it is important to consider what you would like the authorised officer to observe, discuss and sight to demonstrate your service is Meeting the National Quality Standard and regulatory standards. The assessment’s focus is on observing everyday practices, and the authorised officers will be looking for examples of how quality practices are embedded in your service.
By undertaking an open, honest and critical self-assessment and implementing the resulting quality improvement plan, you will be well prepared and there should be no surprises in the assessment and rating visit.
Myth: Authorised officers will look at every piece of documentation during an assessment and rating visit.
Busted: The focus of an assessment and rating visit is observation, discussion and sighting documentation. Generally, authorised officers will want to see that the relevant policies and procedures are in place and that program documentation standards are met.
Authorised officers may randomly check documentation, but may ask to see specific documentation in the process of determining the extent to which the quality standards and regulatory requirements are met. As part of everyday practice, the required documentation should be up-to-date and available to be viewed.
Myth: Educators will be quizzed on the NQF during an assessment and rating visit.
Busted: During an assessment and rating visit, authorised officers will talk with educators about the NQF when asking them about their role and the service. This is an opportunity for the service and educators to showcase the service and how they are meeting the quality standards and regulatory standards.
While it is not required to memorise the National Quality Standard, it will help identify how the standards are met if educators can discuss how the important work they do with children aligns with the standards. For example, educators may be asked about their involvement in developing or implementing the Quality Improvement Plan or their participation in the orientation process.
Myth: An authorised officer can only accurately assess and rate a service if they have experience working in the same service type.
Busted: All authorised officers who assess and rate services have undergone a national program of training and reliability testing, and are retested every 12 months to ensure that they remain reliable and consistent over time.
Myth: Services need to roster additional staff for the day of the assessment and rating visit.
Busted: The number of staff you have at your service on the day of your assessment is your decision. Providers have the option to roster extra staff, but remember the assessment is about getting a true indication of the service. Assessors are aware that you need to focus on children if you are included in the ratio requirements, and will arrange times for discussion that fit with your availability.
Myth: A service visit cannot go ahead if the key service contacts are absent on the day of the visit.
Busted: The focus of an assessment and rating visit is on quality so this should be consistent regardless of which personnel are present on the day of the visit.
Myth: ACECQA conducts assessment and ratings visits.
Busted: Authorised officers from each state and territory regulatory authority conduct assessment and rating for education and care services in that jurisdiction.
Myth: One authorised officer will visit our service to conduct the quality assessment.
Busted: Generally, one will visit, but sometimes more depending on a number of factors including: the size of your service, number of educators and room configuration. There are also times when an experienced authorised officer will bring along a new authorised officer for training purposes.
Myth: On the day of the assessment and rating visit, the authorised officer will be at the service from when it opens to closing time.
Busted: The length of the assessment and rating visit will depend on a number of things, including the approved capacity of the service, the type of service (family day care or centre-based), the number of educators at the service, the number of different age groups at the service and whether the service is session based, such as before and after school, or provides whole-day care.
The time taken will be a decision for the regulatory authority but all services can expect the authorised officer will view the entire service (except in family day care services where a sample of educators are visited), observe each age group (in centre-based services), observe interactions inside and outside, talk with educators and review some documentation.
Myth: Services are rated against all 58 elements, 18 standards and seven quality areas.
Busted: The 58 elements are assessed as being met or not met. If all elements in a standard are met, the standard will be rated Meeting or Exceeding National Quality Standard. If one or more elements are not met, the standard will be rated Working Towards National Quality Standard. The rating of Significant Improvement Required may be allocated at the Quality Area level if one or more elements are not met and the health, safety and wellbeing of children is at risk.
The quality area is calculated based on the rating of all the standards within the quality area.
Myth: Ratings do not need to be displayed on site.
Busted: All services assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard must display their ratings on site and it needs to be clearly visible from the entrance of the service premises. Services that were accredited by the National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) but are not yet assessed under the new system must display both their provisional certificate and their NCAC accreditation until they are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard.
MYTHBUSTERS - Review of ratings
Myth: An approved provider can request a review of the service rating at any time.
Busted: An approved provider can request a review of the rating levels determined for their service, also known as a first tier review. The request must be made in writing to the regulatory authority within 14 days after the approved provider receives the rating notice. The request must set out the grounds on which a review is sought and be accompanied by the required information set out in the National Regulations.
The application form for a rating review can be found on the ACECQA website.
In addition, providers can apply for a re-assessment and re-rating under section 139 of the National Law at any time. A fee applies for this type of application.
The application form for re-assessment and re-rating can be found on the ACECQA website
.Myth: A provider cannot challenge the rating they are given.
Busted: Approved providers are given a copy of their ratings report in draft form (about three to five weeks after the date of the visit) before a rating is given and can provide information they would like the regulatory authority to consider before it makes a final decision.
Approved providers have 10 working days to provide feedback and if none is received, the report will be considered final after 10 days. If feedback is provided, the report will be finalised within 60 days of the service visit.
After receiving a final rating, an approved provider can apply to their regulatory authority for a review of rating levels, which is called a first tier review. The request must be made in writing to the regulatory authority within 14 days after the approved provider receives the rating notice. Following a first tier review, an approved provider can apply to ACECQA for a second tier review if they believe the regulatory authority did not follow the rating process properly or take into account special circumstances existing or facts existing at the time of the assessment.
More information about rating reviews is available on the ACECQA website.
Myth: A provider cannot be reassessed and re-rated once they have received a rating.
Busted: An approved provider can apply to the regulatory authority for a re-assessment and re-rating. This can only be done once every two years, and can either be a full assessment and rating or partial assessment and rating focusing on specific quality areas or elements. In addition, regulatory authorities can choose to reassess and re-rate a service at any time.
Myth: There is no support available for services rated as Working Towards the National Quality Standard.
Busted: Under the Australian Government’s Inclusion and Professional Support Program, state and territory based Professional Support Coordinators (PSCs) and Indigenous Professional Support Units, are funded to ensure that eligible child care and early learning services have access to quality professional development and support. PSCs assist child care and early learning services to understand and meet the requirements of the National Quality Standard.
With introduction of the Long Day Care Professional Development Programme, CCB approved long day care (LDC) services can still access professional development and support from PSCs however, they will need to pay market rates for these services. Subsidised professional development opportunities will continue to be available for other eligible services including family day care, outside school hours care, in home care, occasional care and Budget Based Funded services.
Myth: The authorised officer who did the assessment and rating visit will undertake the first tier review of the rating.
Busted: Anyone conducting the review must not have been involved in the assessment or rating of the service that is being reviewed.
Myth: There is no timeframe for the quality rating review process.
Busted: The first tier review decision must be completed within 30 days, unless extended with the agreement of the approved provider and the regulatory authority, or if a request for further information is made. The regulatory authority must give the approved provider notice of the decision on the review within 30 days after the decision is made.
For a second tier quality rating review, the Ratings Review Panel must make a decision within 60 days after the application for review was made, unless extended. The Ratings Review Panel must give the approved provider notice of the decision on the review within 14 days after the decision is made.
Myth: An approved provider will not be given an opportunity to submit additional information during the first tier review.
Busted: When making an application for first tier review, the approved provider can submit evidence to support the grounds on which they are seeking review. Evidence could include documents, reports, photographs, declarations and other records and must relate to facts that existed at the point in time when the assessment was conducted (including the period between the draft and final report).
Myth: The approved provider will only be notified of the outcome of a first tier rating review if the request was successful.
Busted: Following the review, the regulatory authority must give the approved provider notice in writing of the review's outcome and the reasons for the decision, within 30 days. The regulatory authority may confirm or amend the original rating levels.
Myth: The decision of the first tier review is final.
Busted: If the first tier review does not resolve the approved provider's concerns about the assessment and ratings process and the rating levels they have been awarded, the approved provider may apply on limited grounds (see the Guidelines for applicants – Second Tier Review for more information) to ACECQA for a further review (a 'second tier review') by a Ratings Review Panel. An application for 'second tier review' may only be made on the grounds that the regulatory authority:
a. did not appropriately apply the prescribed processes for determining a rating level
b. failed to take into account or give sufficient weight to special circumstances existing or facts existing at the time of the rating assessment.
Myth: There is no application fee for the review process.
Busted: There is no application fee associated with an application for a first tier review. However, the National Law requires an application fee to be paid for a second tier review before ACECQA can consider the application. The application fee is set by the National Regulations and varies according to the size of the service.
Myth: Any changes I have made to my service since my assessment and rating visit can be taken into consideration in the review process.
Busted: Changes at a service made after the initial ratings assessment cannot be taken into account during a first or second tier review. If you have made changes at your service since your ratings assessment and you believe the changes could improve your ratings, you should apply for a reassessment and re-rating under section 139 of the National Law.
The application form for reassessment and re-rating can be found on the ACECQA website.
Myth: If I submit an application for second tier review, my service rating will either stay the same or improve.
Busted: The Ratings Review Panel can confirm or amend rating levels. A service's final ratings may be lower, the same or higher than the ratings awarded by the regulatory authority following its first tier review.
Myth: I should apply for a first tier review if I have any complaints about the assessment and rating process.
Busted: Some concerns are better handled through the regulatory authority's complaints process, or through seeking a reassessment of a service's ratings, rather than a review.
Appropriate grounds for first tier review would include (but are not limited to) a situation where the approved provider:
- disagrees with a rating based on the evidence described in the final report
- has additional background information about the evidence described in the final report
- believes the authorised officer(s) did not take into account all of the relevant evidence available at the time
- believes the service was not given adequate opportunity to demonstrate how it meets an element or standard.
MYTHBUSTERS - Quality Improvement Plan
Myth: A Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) needs to address all 58 elements, 18 standards and seven quality areas.
Busted: A Quality Improvement Plan should be informed by an open, honest self-assessment and critical reflection of practices and programs. From the self-assessment it is important to identify strengths and prioritise areas for improvement against the seven quality areas of the NQS and the related regulatory requirements. There is no expectation that all 58 elements and 18 standards will be addressed in the Quality Improvement Plan. If your service is doing particularly well in one quality area you may include statements about how this will be maintained and focus energy on other areas for improvement.
Myth: There is a minimum page limit for the Quality Improvement Plan.
Busted: There is no minimum or maximum number of pages required when completing your Quality Improvement Plan. However, it should contain enough information to be useful in identifying strengths and prioritising actions and also a practical size that people will find useable.
Myth: Providers are required to use the Quality Improvement Plan template on the ACECQA website.
Busted: The template is a guide only and providers can submit their Quality Improvement Plan in any format. However, the plan should address the areas identified in the template.
Myth: The Quality Improvement Plan is best developed by the approved provider and the director/coordinator with the assistance of an external consultant.
Busted: The best plans are developed and reviewed collaboratively, involving wherever possible children, families, educators, staff members, management and other interested parties. This could include representatives of a community agency that works with the service to support the inclusion of children with additional needs.
Myth: Services must have a hard copy of their QIP available at all times.
Busted: The QIP must be available at the service and submitted to the regulatory authority on request. This can be in printed or electronic format.
Myth: QIPs should be of a limited size.
Busted: There are no size limit requirements for a QIP, however the QIP must:
• describe a self-assessment of the quality of the practices of the service against the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations
• identify areas for improvement
• contain a statement of the approved service’s philosophy.
MYTHBUSTERS – Educational program and practice and service management
Myth: I need to grade each child’s performance against the Early Years Learning Framework or the Framework for School Age Care.
Busted: There is no requirement to grade each child’s performance against the learning framework. However, approved providers must ensure a child’s learning and development is documented against the educational program. Depending on the age of the child, there are different requirements for what needs to be documented. Refer to page 51 of the Guide to the National Law and Regulations for more information.
Myth: I need to write a report on every child, every day.
Busted: It is up to the approved provider to decide how often they assess and document a child’s learning and development.
Myth: I have to keep children's artwork for seven years as part of assessment under the EYLF.
Busted: There is no requirement to hold on to children’s work for any period of time.
Myth: I have to keep an extensive record of educators working directly with children and of the responsible person in charge.
Busted: Records of educators working directly with children must be kept for all times the service is educating and caring for children. They must include the name of each educator and the hours they are working directly with children. The record should show when an educator takes a rostered break, or if they spend a period of time away from children, for example, when preparing the program for the next day. It is not expected that the record shows short breaks such as going to the bathroom or talking with a parent. The National Regulations do not require these records to be in any particular format. They may be shown on a staff roster or timesheet, or in another format.
Myth: The educational leader has to do the programming for all rooms in the centre. There are also minimum requirements for the hours the educational leader must work.
Busted: The role of the educational leader is to lead the development and implementation of educational programs in a service (regulation 118). This means they should actively oversee the development and application of educational programs, but are not required to personally develop a program for every room. While multiple educators might contribute to the educational program of a service, there can only be one educational leader. There are no set hours an educational leader must work.
MYTHBUSTERS – Qualifications, training and educator to child ratios
Myth: You need a qualification to own an approved education and care service.
Busted: The owner of an approved education and care service does not need to have any formal qualifications under the National Law or Regulations. However, if the owner intends to be counted towards the educator-to-child ratios, they must meet the minimum qualification requirements.
Myth: Family day care educators must hold an approved qualification.
Busted: Family day care educators can also be actively working towards an approved certificate III level education and care qualification or higher. A family day care coordinator must hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification.
Myth: All educators at an education and care service must hold an approved qualification if they are to count towards educator to child ratios.
Busted: Centre-based services educating and caring for children preschool age or under: At least 50 per cent of the centre-based educators required to meet the relevant educator to child ratios for the service must hold, or be actively working towards, an approved diploma level education and care qualification or higher. All other educators required to meet the relevant educator to child ratios for the service must hold, or be actively working towards, an approved certificate III level education and care qualification or higher. If, for reasons beyond their control, an approved provider is unable to meet these qualification requirements, they may apply to their regulatory authority for a waiver.
Centre-based services educating and caring for children over preschool age: There is no national qualification requirement for educators working in centre-based services educating and caring for children over preschool age. State and territory specific requirements may apply and are outlined in chapter 7 of the National Regulations.
Family day care services: All family day care coordinators need to have an approved diploma level education and care qualification or above. All family day educators will be required to have (or be actively working towards) an approved certificate III level education and care qualification, or equivalent.
Myth: All educators in centre-based services will need to have, or be working towards, a diploma by 2016.
Busted: There are no changes planned to require all educators counted towards ratios to have or be working towards an approved diploma qualification. In centre-based services, half of all educators educating and caring for children preschool age and under required to meet the educator to child ratios must have (or to be actively working towards) an approved diploma-level qualification or higher. All other educators required for the ratio, must have, or be actively working towards, at least an approved certificate III level qualification. Some services may request that all their educators have, or be working towards, an approved diploma level qualification. This is not mandated by the National Regulations and is at the discretion of individual services.
Myth: Services cannot educate and care for children who are 13 years old or over.
Busted: While the definition of an education and care service refers to children under 13 years old, this does not mean a service cannot also educate and care for older children. Children over 13 years old are also counted for ratio purposes.
Myth: Registered nurses are exempt from completing first aid, anaphylaxis management and emergency asthma management qualifications or training.
Busted: Any educator (or staff member if the service operates on a school site) who is counted towards meeting the mandatory first aid qualification requirements must have approved first aid qualifications or training. Approved qualifications or training for first aid, anaphylaxis management and emergency asthma management are available on the Qualifications List on the ACECQA website. For a qualification to be approved, it must appear on this list.
Myth: Each educator must have or be working towards a certificate III as a minimum requirement to work in the sector.
Busted: All educators required to meet the required ratios must have or be working towards a certificate III, diploma or degree. However, if a service chooses to staff in excess of the minimum requirements, those additional educators are not required to be working towards a certificate III or above.
Myth: The newly approved first aid qualification entitled ‘provide an emergency first aid response in an education and care setting’ is mandatory.
Busted: This qualification is not mandatory. Any qualification published on ACECQA’s first aid, anaphylaxis management, and emergency asthma management qualifications list is approved for the level specified.
Myth: A four-year trained primary teacher can no longer work as an early childhood teacher.
Busted: If a primary trained teacher holds teacher registration/accreditation in Australia and an approved Diploma or higher qualification listed on ACECQA’s website they are eligible to work as an early childhood teacher. The primary teaching qualification must have, at least, a focus on children aged five to eight years. This transitional measure will be reviewed in 2016. To find out more visit the ACECQA website.
As teacher registration/accreditation requirements vary from state to state, contact your relevant teacher registration/accreditation authority for specific details relating to the requirements for teacher registration/accreditation.
Myth: There are specific educator to child ratios for excursions.
Busted: There are no specific educator to child ratios for excursions.However, when on an excursion the minimum ratios that apply at the service must be met.The National Regulations and Law require providers to carry out a risk assessment before an excursion takes place, to give consideration for the number of adults and children involved in the excursion and to ensure that children are adequately supervised at all times.
MYTHBUSTERS – ACECQA Excellent Rating
Myth: Applications for the Excellent rating must be written by a professional consultant.
Busted: ACECQA focuses on the quality of your service, not the quality of your application. It is not necessary to engage an external consultant to put together your application.
Myth: When applying for the Excellent rating, all I need to do is submit an application form.
Busted: As well as an application form, you need to explain how you meet the Excellent rating criteria and submit evidence to support your claims. Evidence can come in different forms and could include photographs, video or audio, information and communication technology (ICT) or video conferencing (Skype or Facetime).
Myth: You need to receive Exceeding National Quality Standard in all seven quality areas to apply for the Excellent rating.
Busted: It is not necessary to have Exceeding National Quality Standard in all seven quality areas to apply for the Excellent rating. You are eligible to apply if you have received an overall rating of Exceeding.
Myth: The Excellent rating exists only as a means of recognising and celebrating excellence in education and care services.
Busted: The Excellent rating is not only about recognising and celebrating highly accomplished practice, innovation, creativity and excellence in education and care. It is also about learning from, sharing with and inspiring others. Services awarded the Excellent rating still continue on their continuous improvement journey.
MYTHBUSTERS - Waivers
Myth: A service waiver is permanent.
Busted: A regulatory authority can revoke a waiver at any time. If a regulatory authority decides it’s appropriate to revoke a service waiver, the approved provider will be given 60 days’ notice of the decision, or another time period agreed with the provider.
Myth: If a service has a waiver it can’t achieve a quality rating higher than ‘Working Towards NQS’.
Busted: Services granted waivers can still achieve ratings of ‘Meeting’ or ‘Exceeding’ under the NQS.
MYTHBUSTERS – National Registers
Myth: The national registers are updated quarterly.
Busted: The ACECQA and MyChild websites update the registers every week, reflecting any new entries or changed information. The same updated information will appear on state and territory registers.
Myth: There is only one national register.
Busted: There are three registers: Education and Care Services - this lists the individual services granted approval to operate, Providers - this details individuals or entities authorised to operate an approved education and care service and Certified Supervisors – lists everyone with a supervisor certificate.
Myth: The national registers only include centre-based children’s education and care services.
Busted: There are two types of services in the national registers: centre-based services (includes long day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside school hours care) and family day care services.
MYTHBUSTERS – Children's Health and Safety
Myth: Services must comply with nappy changing guidelines.
Busted: The National Law and National Regulations do not prescribe the use of any particular guidelines or standards in relation to nappy changing procedures. Element 2.1.4 of the National Quality Standard states that “steps are taken to control the spread of infectious diseases and to manage injuries and illness, in accordance with recognised guidelines”.
Documents such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) publication, Staying Healthy:Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services, provide some useful information about the health and hygiene risks associated with nappy changing. Similarly, other documents may provide useful advice for developing policies for nappy changing. However, this is guidance only and it is up to educators and providers to make informed decisions that suit their contexts and circumstances, based on sound advice.
Myth: If transporting children in a vehicle, the child restraints must be checked by a professional.
Busted: Child restraints do not have to be checked or fitted at an authorised restraint fitting station. However, approved providers, nominated supervisors and family day care educators must ensure every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children in their care from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury. This means educators need to know and follow the laws on safely transporting children.
The national standard for car seats, restraints and booster seats is AS/NZS 1754 and each state and territory administers the standard. Click below for state or territory-specific information and read more about fitting and selecting the right car seat.
ACT NSW NT Qld SA Tas Vic WA
For assistance in developing an appropriate policy for your service, the Inclusion and Professional Support Program (IPSP) on-line library and the Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) website include useful information.