Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn. Quality education and care shapes every child’s future and lays the foundation for development and learning.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) introduced a new quality standard in 2012 to improve education and care in long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours care services across Australia.
We spent time with Rhonda Livingstone, National Education Leader from ACECQA. Rhonda discusses the importance of the educational leader role, unpacks the NQF and recent changes, and discusses how all of these support continual quality improvement.
Why is educational leadership so important in education and care services?
The introduction of the NQF for education and care services in 2012 set new expectations for educational leadership in Australia. For the first time, approved providers were mandated to designate an educational leader to lead the development and implementation of educational programs at the service. Strong leadership is one of the key characteristics of effective education and care services; with suitably qualified and experienced educational leaders supporting quality, and children’s educational outcomes. The educational leader of a service not only has the potential to build the knowledge, skills, and professionalism of educators but also to inspire, to motivate, to affirm and extend their practice and pedagogy.
- Why is educational leadership important in education and care services?
- What is the role of the educational leader?
- What attributes, knowledge and skills should services consider when selecting an educational leader?
- How can services support an educational leader?
Recent changes to the National Quality Framework
The Australian education and care sector is currently experiencing an exciting time of change in the NQF. The changes followed a review that began in 2014. The review aimed to determine if the goals of the NQF, to improve the quality of education and care in Australia, were being met. A range of the proposed options for changes to the NQF was tested with the sector, families, and communities through a Draft Regulatory Impact Statement. Overall, the review found the NQF to be an important and successful reform with strong stakeholder support. However, some technical and operational improvements were required after five years of operation. These improvements reflect the intent to continuously improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the NQF, while reducing unnecessary burden on stakeholders, such as approved providers.
- What is the background to the recent changes to the National Quality Framework?
- What are the key changes to the National Quality Standard?
- How is ACECQA supporting these new changes?
Recent changes in how to achieve an ‘Exceeding’ NQS rating
Changes to the assessment and rating process, and additional guidance, for the Exceeding NQS rating, was an outcome of the review of the 2012 National Quality Standard (2012 NQS), and the development of the 2018 NQS. A rating of Exceeding NQS means going ‘above and beyond’ what is expected at the Meeting NQS level for a standard. To achieve a rating of Exceeding NQS for any standard, three Exceeding NQS themes need to be demonstrated in service practice for that standard. Watch the video below to hear Rhonda discuss the recent changes, unpack the three Exceeding NQS themes and talk about where to find additional guidance on the Exceeding NQS rating and themes.
- Why has the assessment and rating of Exceeding NQS changed?
- How was the new Exceeding NQS’ guidance developed?
- What are the headline changes to the assessment and rating of ‘Exceeding NQS’?
- What are the three ‘Exceeding NQS’ themes?
- What do the three themes look like in practice?
Documentation and linking with communities
Rhonda Livingstone discusses documentation, and why it is so important. Documentation captures meaningful information about children’s understandings, dispositions, knowledge, and skills. It also informs the content of the educational program and practice, and educators’ pedagogy. Documentation is required by law and the NQS. The educational program also needs to be on display and accessible to parents. Documentation is an integral part of the ongoing cycle of planning. It needs to be readily understood, meaningful, relevant and achievable.
- Why do services need to document children’s learning?
- What does documentation need to consider?
- Why is it important to share documentation with families?
- What are the key items that need to be documented and shared with families?
- Is documentation understood by families?
- Are there key questions that educators and services should consider when documenting?
- In considering digital documentation, what are some key questions to consider?
For more resources on the National Quality Framework and the National Quality Standard, visit the ACECQA website.