All childcare centres in Australia are assessed and rated against seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard by their state regulatory authority.
In Victoria the assessment process is provided by the Dept of Education & Training. Their representatives visit early childhood centres, conduct regular assessments which are then measured against 7 quality standards of the National Quality Standard (NQS).
The 7 quality areas are;
- Educational program and practice
- Children’s health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Governance and leadership
The stages of assessment
Prior to the assessment visit taking place at our centres there is an initial stage where we are required to submit a quality improvement plan to the assessors.
This quality improvement plan describes how we are achieving quality in the above areas, it looks at the following: our constant evaluation of our policies, procedures and practices, any changes we may have made to the plan and why we made them. This gives the assessor a background and history of each of our centres.
Through this regular evaluation, reflection of services and management of educator changes we continually strive to deliver a service that is best suited to all children in our care.
It is important that we are constantly striving to improve and critically reflect our programmes and practice, whilst including feedback and guidance from our families and wider community.
An example of a recent service improvement at the Child’s Play ELC Tarneit & Torquay centres was the introduction of Kindyhub, which drives educators planning and programming for the children and also gives up to date information about the child to the family.
Kindyhub is an app that improves our communication with parents including simplifying sharing of documents. The ease of communicating with parents via the Kindyhub app has multiple benefits including supporting children’s learning and development.
Assessors visit our centres
Once due consideration of the quality improvement plan is given the assessors will then arrange to visit our centres. The visit lasts usually 2 days (based on the size of our services). Sometimes there can be 2 assessors also.
Time is spent time observing interactions between educators and children and gaining insights around how each child is supported, listened and responded to.
Assessors might ask educators questions about our practices, ask for clarification on something they have observed or for more information of an item of interest that formed part of the quality improvement plan.
Time is also set aside for the assessors to meet with the educational leaders and management team.
During these conversations the assessor discusses how governance is practiced and how early childhood education is being provided in the centres.
Awarded our assessment and rating
Once the assessor has all the relevant information, they require to successfully complete the assessment and award centre ratings, they will formally make their assessment.
Each centre is awarded a rating for each standard, each quality area and then provided an overall rating. The ratings are recorded and accessible on the ACECQA website, https://www.acecqa.gov.au; so that these can be easily viewed by families.
The rating and assessment standards are an excellent initiative enabling centres to be benchmarked against a national framework and endorses centres who are meeting or exceeding the standards.
This gives parents peace of mind, and confidence in the level of care their child will receive at centres like ours, where the child’s wellbeing, learning and development is the highest priority.
Our Torquay centre was assessed in April 2019 and received an overall rating of Meeting all the national quality standards.
Tarneit was assessed in October 2019 and received Exceeding all 7 quality areas. The Tarneit service is hoping to apply for Excellence in 2020. To contextualise this only 8 other childcare services in Victoria currently have this rating.
If you would like to learn more about the assessment and rating process, or the current ratings of the Tarneit & Torquay Child’s Play ELC centres, our team would love to speak with you.