Exceeding NQS in Quality Area 1: Responsive teaching and scaffolding (Element 1.2.2)

We’ve read over 1,000 pages of ACEQA guides, case studies and content (in September 2023) and have used this information to provide practical steps you can take to attempt to get a rating of Exceeding NQS for your service. We also provide an example weekly schedule for improvement, reflective questions and insights from ACEQA case studies.

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Practical Steps Towards an Exceeding NQS Rating in Quality Area 1: Element 1.2.2

To achieve an Exceeding NQS rating in the National Quality Standard 1.2, specifically in ELEMENT 1.2.2 RESPONSIVE TEACHING AND SCAFFOLDING, here are the practical steps you can take based on the provided references and the content from the ACECQA website:

What Element 1.2.2 Aims to Achieve:

  • Responsive Teaching and Scaffolding: This involves following up on children’s ideas and interests with open-ended questions, providing positive feedback, encouraging children to further explore their interests, considering how children are grouped for play, implementing experiences that support peer scaffolding, and using spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ to enhance children’s play and scaffold their learning.
  • Valuing Children’s Strengths: Responsive teaching is achieved by valuing and building on children’s current and evolving strengths, skills, and knowledge to ensure their wellbeing, motivation, and engagement in learning. Children learn best when the experiences they have are meaningful to them and are focused on the present.
  • Inclusiveness: Educators should reflect on the inclusiveness of their practices, ensuring they are responsive to individual children and acknowledge all children’s contributions to the group. This helps in updating their knowledge of individual children and planning new experiences that are relevant to each child.

Assessment Guide for Meeting Element 1.2.2:

  • Observations: Assessors may observe educators intentionally scaffolding children’s understanding and learning, making use of spontaneous ‘teachable moments’, responding to children’s learning dispositions, creating opportunities for peer scaffolding, modeling mathematical and scientific language, and joining in children’s play when invited.
  • Discussions: Assessors may discuss with educators how they recognize and value children’s involvement in learning, provide flexible and open-ended learning environments, plan learning environments with appropriate levels of challenge, support children’s investigations, and communicate with children about their learning and ideas.
  • Documentation: Assessors may sight the written program, which includes documented reflective practice, documentation and monitoring of children’s learning, development, wellbeing, and engagement, and project or inquiry work where children lead investigations or collaborate with peers, teachers, and community members.

Practical Steps to Achieve Exceeding NQS Rating:

  1. Embedded in Service Operations (Theme 1):
    • Ensure that responsive teaching and scaffolding occur consistently, frequently, and intentionally.
    • Ensure all educators understand and implement these practices across all aspects of the program.
  2. Informed by Critical Reflection (Theme 2):
    • Engage in deep, regular, and ongoing analysis, questioning, and thinking that goes beyond evaluation and review.
    • Ensure that the continuous reflection of all educators influences decision-making and drives continuous quality improvement.
  3. Shaped by Meaningful Engagement with Families and/or the Community (Theme 3):
    • Actively seek input, guidance, and feedback from children, families, and the community.
    • Foster a culture of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging for all.
  4. Continuous Improvement:
    • Regularly review and update the national approved learning frameworks.
    • Familiarize with the latest versions of the learning frameworks and ensure they are implemented in the service.

By following these steps and ensuring that the practices are embedded in service operations, informed by critical reflection, and shaped by meaningful engagement with families and the community, your service will be well-positioned to achieve an Exceeding NQS rating in Element 1.2.2.

An Example Monthly Schedule

Ready to implement these practical steps in your service? Using the constraints of 4 hours per week to work on improvements, we’ve created an example schedule below.

Given the limited time of 4 hours per week, it’s essential to prioritize tasks and break them down into manageable chunks. Here’s an example monthly schedule for an educator to work on improving their service based on the practical steps for achieving an Exceeding NQS rating in Element 1.2.2:

Week 1: Understanding and Planning

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Research and Understanding
    • Review the requirements of Element 1.2.2 and the criteria for an Exceeding NQS rating.
    • Familiarize oneself with the latest versions of the national approved learning frameworks.
  2. Hour 2Self-reflection
    • Reflect on current practices and identify areas of improvement.
    • Document reflections and insights.
  3. Hours 3-4Planning
    • Draft a plan for the month, outlining specific tasks and goals.
    • Prioritize tasks based on their impact and feasibility.

Week 2: Engagement and Feedback

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Engage with Children
    • Observe children’s play and interactions.
    • Identify teachable moments and areas where scaffolding can be applied.
  2. Hours 2-3Engage with Families and Community
    • Conduct short surveys or informal chats with families to gather feedback on current practices.
    • Seek input on areas of improvement and any specific needs or concerns.
  3. Hour 4Documentation
    • Document feedback received and any observations made.
    • Reflect on how this feedback can be incorporated into teaching practices.

Week 3: Implementation and Practice

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hours 1-2Implement Changes
    • Begin implementing changes based on feedback and reflections.
    • Focus on one or two key areas identified in Week 1 and 2.
  2. Hours 3-4Practice and Observation
    • Practice responsive teaching techniques, such as open-ended questioning and positive feedback.
    • Observe and note the impact of these changes on children’s learning and engagement.

Week 4: Review and Continuous Improvement

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Review
    • Review the changes implemented and assess their effectiveness.
    • Reflect on any challenges faced and how they were addressed.
  2. Hours 2-3Professional Development
    • Dedicate time to professional development, such as reading articles or attending online workshops related to responsive teaching and scaffolding.
  3. Hour 4Planning for Next Month
    • Based on the month’s experiences, draft a plan for the next month.
    • Identify new areas of focus and set specific goals.

By following this schedule, the educator can systematically work towards improving their service in alignment with the requirements of Element 1.2.2. It’s essential to remain flexible and adjust the plan as needed based on observations and feedback.

Reflective Questions

Reflective questions are essential tools that can help educators critically analyze their practices and make informed decisions. Here’s an exhaustive list of reflective questions tailored for Element 1.2.2 – Responsive Teaching and Scaffolding:

Understanding and Implementation:

  1. How do I currently respond to children’s ideas and play?
  2. In what ways do I extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions, and feedback?
  3. How do I ensure that my teaching is responsive to each child’s individual needs and interests?
  4. How often do I use spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ to enhance children’s play and scaffold their learning?
  5. How do I incorporate the principles of the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care into my teaching practices?

Engagement and Interaction:

  1. How do I encourage children to further explore their interests and stimulate their thinking?
  2. In what ways do I consider how children are grouped for play?
  3. How do I support peer scaffolding and promote engagement between children?
  4. How do I ensure that children are actively participating and are enthusiastic about their learning?

Continuous Improvement:

  1. How often do I reflect on the inclusiveness of my practices?
  2. How do I acknowledge all children’s contributions to the group?
  3. How do I update my knowledge of individual children and plan new experiences that are relevant to each child?
  4. How do I ensure that all experiences are implemented within a social context where peer interactions are encouraged?

Feedback and Communication:

  1. How do I actively seek feedback from children, families, and the community to improve my teaching practices?
  2. How do I communicate with children about their learning and ideas, and how do I build on these?
  3. How do I ensure that my feedback is constructive and promotes further exploration and learning?

Professional Development:

  1. How do I stay updated with the latest versions of the national approved learning frameworks?
  2. How do I incorporate new learning and insights from professional development activities into my teaching practices?

Assessment and Documentation:

  1. How do I document my reflective practices and the impact of changes I’ve implemented?
  2. How do I monitor children’s learning, development, wellbeing, and engagement?
  3. How do I ensure that my assessments are accurate and provide valuable insights into children’s learning trajectories?

Collaboration and Community:

  1. How do I collaborate with peers, teachers, family members, and other members of the community to enhance children’s learning experiences?
  2. How do I ensure that my teaching practices foster a sense of belonging for all children?

Challenges and Solutions:

  1. What challenges have I faced in implementing responsive teaching and scaffolding, and how have I addressed them?
  2. How do I handle situations where children’s interests diverge or conflict with the planned curriculum?

Future Goals:

  1. What are my goals for improving my responsive teaching and scaffolding practices in the next month, quarter, and year?
  2. How will I measure the success of the changes I implement?

Using these reflective questions, educators can gain a deeper understanding of their current practices, identify areas of improvement, and make informed decisions to enhance their teaching and scaffolding practices in alignment with Element 1.2.2.

Learning from ACEQA case studies

Let’s break down the practical steps taken by services in each case study to achieve Exceeding NQS standards in Element 1.2.2:

Case Study 1

At this long day care service, staff meetings are used to share reflections about practice. Successful outcomes and how to build on them are discussed, as well as issues, challenges and possible solutions. Conversations and agreed actions are documented to capture decision-making processes and ongoing actions, as well as to enable review and critical reflection.

  1. Staff Meetings for Reflection and Decision-making
    • Reason: Regular staff meetings ensure that all educators are aligned with the service’s philosophy, values, and principles. It promotes consistency in practice and encourages collective decision-making.
    • Tips: Schedule regular staff meetings, have a clear agenda, document discussions, and ensure follow-up on action items.
    • Estimated Time: 2 hours per meeting.
  2. Promotion of Children’s Agency
    • Reason: Actively seeking children’s input and incorporating their ideas into the program promotes their sense of agency and ensures their voices are heard.
    • Tips: Regularly engage children in discussions, seek their feedback, and make genuine efforts to incorporate their ideas.
    • Estimated Time: 1 hour per week.
  3. Family Surveys and Feedback
    • Reason: Gathering feedback from families ensures that the service is meeting the needs and expectations of the community it serves.
    • Tips: Conduct regular surveys, provide platforms for families to share feedback, and act on the feedback received.
    • Estimated Time: 2 hours for survey creation and distribution, ongoing time for feedback collection and analysis.
  4. Daily Room Meetings for Children’s Feedback
    • Reason: These meetings provide structured opportunities to gather children’s ideas and reflections, ensuring their voices shape the program.
    • Tips: Schedule daily meetings, document discussions, and ensure children’s suggestions are considered in program planning.
    • Estimated Time: 15 minutes per day.
  5. Reorganization of Physical Environment Based on Children’s Feedback
    • Reason: Making changes based on children’s feedback ensures the environment is conducive to their needs and promotes their agency.
    • Tips: Engage children in discussions about the physical environment, document their suggestions, and make necessary changes.
    • Estimated Time: Varies based on the extent of changes, approximately 5 hours for initial discussions and planning.

Case Study 2

This outside school hours care (OSHC) service offers before and after school, and vacation care, in a rural community. It is the only OSHC service in the community and is located on the grounds of the local school. The current team, including support staff, comprises a balance of both experienced educators and those who are newer to the role.

  1. Deep Dive into Pedagogical Practices
    • Reason: Ensuring that the educational program extends all children’s learning, development, and wellbeing.
    • Tips: Regularly review and discuss pedagogical practices, engage in professional reading, and ensure alignment with frameworks like MTOP.
    • Estimated Time: 3 hours per month for discussions and reading.
  2. Engagement with Local Community and Cultural Initiatives
    • Reason: Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and perspectives enriches the program and promotes inclusivity.
    • Tips: Engage with local Aboriginal Elders, undertake cultural competency training, and actively seek opportunities to embed cultural perspectives.
    • Estimated Time: 5 hours per month for community engagement and training.
  3. Re-establishment of the Murri Trail
    • Reason: Promotes connection to land and country and deepens understanding of local Aboriginal culture.
    • Tips: Collaborate with the school and local Aboriginal Elders, engage children in the restoration process, and use the trail for educational purposes.
    • Estimated Time: Varies based on the extent of restoration, approximately 10 hours for initial planning and discussions.
  4. Development of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
    • Reason: Documents the service’s commitment to reconciliation and promotes ongoing cultural appreciation.
    • Tips: Engage with Reconciliation Australia, involve the entire team in the RAP development, and ensure regular reviews and updates.
    • Estimated Time: 10 hours for initial development, ongoing time for reviews.
  5. Acknowledgement of Country and Cultural Initiatives
    • Reason: Promotes respect and appreciation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.
    • Tips: Display the Acknowledgement prominently, engage children in its recitation, and explore opportunities for deeper cultural engagement.
    • Estimated Time: 2 hours for initial setup, ongoing time for daily recitations and discussions.

These steps, when implemented with intentionality and commitment, can significantly contribute to achieving an Exceeding NQS rating in Element 1.2.2.



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