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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 52
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2013 - ISSUE 52 7 In May 2013 the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) published the quality ratings on its website as part of new national registers under the National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care. This was the first time quality ratings under the new National Quality Standard (NQS) had been made available publicly, with ratings for more than 2000 services made available online. Ratings for services are progressively being added to the registers each week. Over time, all long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, preschools and kindergartens in the national registers will be assessed on their progress in meeting the new quality standard. At 31 March 2013, there were more than 12,800 education and care services and almost 13% had been rated against the NQS. The second ACECQA Snapshot is expected to be released this month and will contain updated figures and analysis of ratings progress. The snapshot will be updated and released quarterly. It is still early days in the reporting cycle for the NQF and the sample of assessed services is small and not random. Over time, reports on the quality rating of services across Australia will give a valuable indication into the questions the sector is asking such as: • What is the pattern of quality in education and care across metropolitan and rural areas, and across socio-economic areas? • Are providers of education and care services finding it harder to get qualified staff in rural areas? • Are some service types finding it more difficult to do well in a particular quality area compared with other service types? • Can we understand the strengths of different service types by looking for common themes in quality ratings at the standard level? • Is there a correlation between quality of education and care services, and the size of provider? As more data becomes available, new areas for inquiry will develop and ACECQA will continue to work with national stakeholders to develop specific research questions. It is anticipated that this data will start to provide answers to questions such as: • What are the priorities for professional development? • How might higher education and vocational training providers re-focus their programs? • What can service providers in metropolitan areas learn from their rural counterparts? • Is there any correlation between quality rating and types of service? In the last ACECQA Snapshot, 1,620 services had been rated against the NQS. Nationally, 55% of those services were rated as Meeting (33%) or Exceeding (22%) the national quality standard overall. Working Towards the national quality standard was the most common rating -- with 45% of services in that category. With the introduction of any new system, it was expected many services would need to make quality improvements, and this is reflected in the quality rating results so far. Early analysis of the data from the national registers is giving us our first opportunity to see the quality areas that services may find it harder to achieve, although, again, this data needs to be tested over time. At a national level, initial data shows services are more commonly Meeting or Exceeding the standard in areas relating to staffing arrangements (QA4), relationships with children (QA5) and collaborative partnerships with families and communities (QA6). The quality areas, educational program and practice (QA1) and physical environment (QA3) are so far proving more challenging for providers to confidently implement. Time will tell whether these results emerge as trends, or are overtaken by other results, as more services are assessed and the sample becomes statistically reliable. Staffing and relationships with children and families are a well-established part of most providers' procedures, but the use of a learning framework and criteria around the environment are new aspects of the national standards for many services. This is the sort of new information that the NQF is making possible. In the long term, it has the potential to show if the new national standards are making a difference. In the short term, it means identifying elements that services are struggling with, and targeting support to help improve these areas of need. ACECQA is continuing its role to educate and inform the community and the sector about the NQF with the development of new resources such as Quality Area posters, materials for families through Family News and the development of a series of short videos about the NQF to be released shortly. Look out for this month's ACECQA Snapshot and keep up to date with ACECQA's news and updates by subscribing to our emails http://www.acecqa.gov.au/Subscribe.aspx and by following us on Facebook and Twitter. www.facebook.com/ACECQA www.twitter.com/ACECQA
Reflections Magazine Issue 51
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013