NQS Help From Expert, Michelle Rogers
Are you looking for NQS help? Have you printed out the guide to the National Quality Framework yet? All 693 pages? Sure it could be a handy doorstop, but we’ve wheeled in our resident quality expert, Michelle Rogers, to show us how it could be even more useful to your centre. In this blog, she tells us what we need to focus on first and there’s even a handy free webinar she created for those ready to do a deeper dive.
“It’s all about supporting the profession to raise the quality of education and care we provide to children.”
Who’s Michelle Rogers?
A Brisbane-based early education consultant, Michelle set up her business – Sustainable Childcare Consultancy – more than two years ago. She specializes in the quality framework and providing NQS help. Michelle builds on 20 years in private and corporate childcare and early childhood education as an educator, manager, and regional/state manager including as a business analyst for a childcare software company.
Her first interaction with Educa was in New Zealand (where the company began) many years ago. More recently her contact, Dave Harris, who started working for Educa, helped put it back on her radar. She says of Educa: “I know this would be perfect for our childcare services in Australia”.
“I feel it’s vital we get our services to an exceeding level in Quality Area 1: Educational Program and Practice and feel that Educa is the right path to do this,” says Michelle, whose been solely working with centres on quality since the National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced in 2012. From it flow the National Quality Standards (NQS) – which drives quality through the early education sector.
Michelle provides NQS help in an advisory capacity nationwide.
Recap on the Changes
Changes to the national law took effect on 1 October 2017, while the revisions to the standards will take effect on 1 February 2018. (NSW has more time to meet the standards for ratios regarding after school care. Read more about it in our recent blog on NQS changes. There have been many tweaks to quality areas, the regulations and law and most are relevant to the day-to-day running of early childhood education centres.
The three main issues of the NQF changes are:
- Simplified quality standards and elements, which work to strengthen quality,
- Removal of supervisor certificates, and
- Introduction of a national educator to child ratio (1:15) for services providing education and care to school-age children.
“The NQS is well written and simplifies standards and elements considerably but reduces conceptual overlaps. Each standard and element is represented by concepts that support education and care services to navigate and reflect on the NQS,” says Michelle.
“This offers greater clarity – a concept is the bridge between the old and the new, so it’s an easy transition for centres to get a grasp of it.”
Sweat The Big Stuff First
She advises centres to focus on understanding the standards and updating their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) first.
“Services will have been using the National Quality Standards for some time. The revised NQS now make it easier to use elements and standards. Within the first six months of 2018, services should concentrate on getting to know the revised quality areas and use that understanding to update their QIP,” she says, who offers a fee-for-service to guide centres on updating their QIP.
“Also, make sure if you cater for school-aged children that the care ratios are correct and that your planning aligns with the changes.”
Keep child protection certification on your radar
She adds: “Make sure that every educator is booked into child protection training. Element 2.2.3 states ‘Management, educators and staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect’. If every educator holds a certification in this area, you will be more than meeting this element and your team will be more confident in understanding the role they play in protecting children.
There are online and external courses available, but if you are having trouble finding the right course for your area contact your regulatory authority and ask for their preferred training course.”
Talk to your regulatory authority
Michelle urges centre managers to seek NQS help if they are uncertain. This includes quizzing their regulatory authority to find out exactly where or what they need to report as requirements have changed.
“They used to have to complete lengthy forms for even small incidents and report these so you can imagine the paperwork!
Reporting incidents has now been revised so that only serious incidents need to be reported to your regulatory authority. My advice is “if in doubt give them a call.”
A Word on Exceeding the Standards
Services may have previously struggled to know what they had to do to reach ‘exceeding’ the standards status. This is because previously the standards were more open to interpretation. The NQS changes are clear, and so should be easier to follow.
“Use the new ‘Guide to the National Quality Standards’ to assist you in understanding the requirements for exceeding. After each standard you will see a section that outlines what exceeding practice would look like.”
Download the Latest Code of Ethics
This is probably the easiest one to do. Use it to guide practice and start some professional conversations. Ensure you have the latest version of the Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics.
And so, it’s never been easier for early childhood centres to understand how to achieve quality in their workplaces. It’s worth your investment of time and effort to become savvy about the standards to boost quality overall.
“It’s all about supporting the profession to raise the quality of education and care we provide to children”,” says Michelle.
Early next year, Michelle’s online training portal will go live. Visit it here.
Educa runs regular webinars on early education, including sessions on NQS help, the NQF and QIPs, run by Michelle. Register for an upcoming webinar here.
Header image, courtesy of ACECQA.