Written By Rhonda Livingstone, National Educational Leader (NEL)
Why are the changes happening?
With the recent announcement about the upcoming changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) it is timely to celebrate and reflect on what education and care services have achieved both on a professional and personal level in the education and care sector since the introduction of the NQF in 2012.
Quality children’s education and care plays an important part in supporting the learning and development of Australian children in the early years and helps to achieve better health, education and employment outcomes later in life.
The NQF sets the minimum quality standards for education and care services in Australia to help support these outcomes by improving the quality of services nationally.
The changes that are being implemented in 2017/2018 are based on feedback, consultation and reflection on the current NQF, and seek to continuously improve and streamline our legislation and practices, driving better outcomes for children.
There will be changes to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations, including a revised National Quality Standard (NQS).
The Australian, state and territory education ministers have agreed to changes to the NQF, which will help streamline the system for educators.
What are the key decisions?
- A revised NQS to strengthen quality through greater clarity, remove conceptual overlap between elements and standards, clarify language and reduce the number of standards and elements from 18 standards to 15, and 58 to 40 elements.
- Improved oversight and support within Family Day Care to achieve better compliance and quality across the whole sector.
- Removing supervisor certificate requirements so service providers have more autonomy in deciding who can be the responsible person in each service, and to reduce red tape.
- Introduction of a national educator to child ratio of 1:15 for services providing education and care to school age children. Transitional arrangement and saving provisions apply in some states and territories.
When are the changes happening?
The Changes will come into effect from:
- 1 October 2017 – National Law and Regulations changes commence in all states and territories, except Western Australia. In Western Australia changes will commence by 1 October 2018 to allow for the legislation to pass through the Western Australian Parliament.
• 1 February 2018 – Revised NQS commences in all states and territories, including Western Australia.
The Australian Government and state and territory governments thank the education and care sector for their feedback and commitment to improving and strengthening the NQF.
All governments and ACECQA will be working to support the sector to prepare for these changes. Additional information, guidance and resources will be released over the coming months.
Celebrating our achievements to date:
Educators are encouraged to use the upcoming changes as an opportunity to critically reflect and continuously improve their own practice, as well as that of the service they work in.
Let’s recall our achievements since the introduction of the NQF:
- Educators working directly with children are now required to have a minimum of a Certificate III qualification – research indicates that the more qualified an educator is the higher the quality of care on offer, which leads to better outcomes for children.
- The implementation of a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) – this has helped services and educators to remain focused on what they want to change, how the change can occur and a timeframe for the change. As a QIP is an evolving, living document it also allows services to celebrate their continuous improvement achievements.
- The implementation of approved learning frameworks – which has allowed the sector to focus on better outcomes for children’s learning, wellbeing and development.
- To date 86 per cent of education and care services have been rated against the NQS; with 72 per cent of these services rated ‘Meeting NQS’ or above. It is also interesting that of reassessed services 62 per cent have rated higher than their first assessment and rating (for more information please look at ACECQA’s snapshot data).
Want to find out more?
The ACECQA website has a summary of the key changes sorted under key themes, along with a summary of all decisions (including where no change was made) and the full Decision Regulation Impact Statement with background to each proposal and decision.