Exceeding NQS in Quality Area 6: Access and participation (Element 6.2.2)

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 6: Element 6.2.2

To achieve an Exceeding NQS rating in the National Quality Standard 6.2, specifically in ELEMENT 6.2.2 ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION, here are the practical steps based on the provided references:

Element 6.2.2: Access and Participation

Objective: Effective partnerships support children’s access, inclusion, and participation in the program.

  1. Understand the Aim of Element 6.2.2:
    • Recognize the importance of inclusive practices of educators and the partnerships they form with each child and their families.
    • Understand that children thrive when families, educators, local schools, and the wider community work together to support their access, inclusion, and participation.
  2. Support Each Child’s Access, Inclusion, and Participation:
    • Learn about each child’s individual context, including family circumstances, geographic location, cultural and linguistic experiences, interests, learning styles, strengths, and abilities.
    • Make informed decisions about the physical environment, curriculum, daily routines, and transitions to ensure no barriers to children’s participation.
  3. Professional Development and Collaboration:
    • Enhance professional knowledge and skills.
    • Collaborate with children, families, and other services within the community to ensure all children have opportunities for quality learning.
  4. Assessment Guide for Meeting Element 6.2.2:
    • Ensure all children demonstrate a sense of belonging and comfort in the service environment.
    • Facilitate the inclusion of all children by adapting the environment, routines, transitions, and staffing arrangements.
    • Demonstrate commitment to the participation of all children.
    • Access support and/or participate in professional development to support the inclusion of children with specific requirements.
    • Collaborate with families, other professionals, therapists, or specialists to support all children.
    • Develop plans to support the inclusion of children who require specific support.
    • Implement strategies to ensure environments are welcoming and that enrollment information is clear and accessible.

Exceeding NQS Guidance for Standard 6.2: Collaborative Partnerships

  1. Exceeding Theme 1: Practice is Embedded in Service Operations:
    • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard.
    • Establish and maintain ongoing collaborative partnerships with the community.
    • Consistently facilitate inclusion and support assistance.
    • Promote continuity of learning and transitions for each child.
  2. Exceeding Theme 2: Practice is Informed by Critical Reflection:
    • Reflect on the service’s approach to collaborative partnerships.
    • Ensure the approach is informed by current recognized guidance.
    • Engage in robust debate and discussion about the service’s approach.
    • Challenge stereotypes and cultivate respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.
  3. Exceeding Theme 3: Practice is Shaped by Meaningful Engagement with Families and/or the Community:
    • Reflect the unique geographical, cultural, and community context of the service.
    • Support families to build relationships with relevant community services and agencies.
    • Seek out and build new community partnerships based on the perspectives and priorities of the children and families.
    • Ensure community partnerships contribute to a culture of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging.

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 can work towards achieving an Exceeding NQS rating in the National Quality Standard 6.2.

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 extensive steps and the limited time of 4 hours per week, it’s crucial to prioritize tasks and break them down into manageable chunks. Here’s a suggested monthly schedule for an educator:

Week 1: Understanding and Assessment

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hours 1-2: Research and Understanding
    • Spend time understanding the aim of Element 6.2.2 and the importance of inclusive practices.
    • Familiarize oneself with the objectives of the National Quality Standard 6.2.
  2. Hours 3-4: Initial Assessment
    • Assess the current state of the service in relation to Element 6.2.2.
    • Identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.

Week 2: Planning and Collaboration

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hours 1-2: Planning for Inclusion
    • Begin planning on how to adapt the environment, routines, and transitions to better facilitate the inclusion of all children.
    • Identify potential barriers to children’s participation and brainstorm solutions.
  2. Hours 3-4: Initiate Collaboration
    • Reach out to families, other professionals, therapists, or specialists for initial discussions on collaboration.
    • Schedule meetings or sessions for the upcoming weeks.

Week 3: Professional Development and Reflection

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hours 1-2: Professional Development
    • Dedicate time to research or attend online workshops or courses that focus on inclusive practices and collaborative partnerships.
    • Identify resources or materials that can aid in enhancing professional knowledge.
  2. Hours 3-4: Critical Reflection
    • Reflect on the service’s current approach to collaborative partnerships.
    • Engage in self-reflection, considering personal biases and how they might impact practices.

Week 4: Implementation and Community Engagement

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hours 1-2: Implement Changes
    • Start implementing the planned changes from Week 2, focusing on the most crucial areas first.
    • Make adjustments to the environment, routines, or transitions based on the plans.
  2. Hours 3-4: Community Engagement
    • Initiate or strengthen community partnerships.
    • Seek feedback from families and the community on the changes made and identify areas for further improvement.

By the end of the month, the educator would have a clearer understanding of the requirements, initiated collaborations, engaged in professional development, reflected critically on their practices, and started implementing changes. This schedule provides a balanced approach, ensuring that the educator is not overwhelmed and can make meaningful progress each week.

Reflective Questions

Reflective questions are essential for educators to deeply consider their practices, identify areas of improvement, and ensure they are meeting the objectives of Element 6.2.2. Here’s an exhaustive list of reflective questions for Element 6.2.2:

Understanding and Objective

  1. Do I fully understand the aim and objectives of Element 6.2.2?
  2. How do I perceive the importance of inclusive practices in my service?
  3. In what ways do my beliefs and values align with the principles of inclusion and participation?

Assessment of Current Practices

  1. How do I currently support each child’s access, inclusion, and participation in the program?
  2. Are there any children who might feel excluded or not fully participating in the program? Why?
  3. What feedback have I received from families regarding their child’s access and participation?

Planning and Implementation

  1. How do I adapt the environment, routines, and transitions to facilitate the inclusion of all children?
  2. Are there any barriers in the current setup that might hinder a child’s full participation?
  3. How do I ensure that the curriculum is inclusive and caters to the diverse needs of all children?

Collaboration and Partnerships

  1. How often do I collaborate with families, other professionals, therapists, or specialists?
  2. Are there any community resources or agencies I could partner with to enhance children’s inclusion and participation?
  3. How do I ensure that the feedback and insights from these collaborations are integrated into the program?

Professional Development

  1. What steps have I taken recently to enhance my professional knowledge and skills related to inclusion?
  2. Are there any specific areas or topics I feel I need more training or knowledge in?
  3. How do I stay updated with the latest research and best practices related to inclusion and participation?

Critical Reflection

  1. How often do I engage in critical reflection regarding my practices related to Element 6.2.2?
  2. Are there any biases or preconceived notions I hold that might impact my approach to inclusion?
  3. How do I challenge and address these biases to ensure fair and equal treatment of all children?

Community Engagement

  1. How do I ensure that the service environment is welcoming to all children and families in the community?
  2. Are the enrollment information and procedures clear, accessible, and inclusive?
  3. How do I actively seek feedback from the community to improve the inclusivity of the service?

Continuous Improvement

  1. What strategies have been most effective in promoting access, inclusion, and participation?
  2. Are there any strategies or practices that haven’t worked as expected? Why?
  3. How do I plan to continuously improve and ensure that all children have equal opportunities to participate fully in the program?

These reflective questions are designed to prompt deep thinking and analysis of current practices, helping educators identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth related to Element 6.2.2.

Learning from ACEQA case studies

Based on these case studies, here are the 5 most important practical steps that services have taken to achieve Exceeding NQS standards in Element 6.2.2, along with the reasons, tips, and estimated time for implementation:

Case Study 1

Educators from a family day care service in a small rural town have set up a number of strategies to support each other in their educator role. Given the difficulty in meeting up during the week due to the distance educators needed to travel, some educators meet at a local café on a Saturday morning once per month to share information and ideas.

  1. Regular Community Involvement and Participation
    • Reason: Building a strong sense of belonging and connection with the local community.
    • Tips: Actively participate in local events, organize excursions to local places, and promote the service’s values and philosophy.
    • Estimated Time: Ongoing, with specific events requiring 1-2 days of planning and participation.
  2. Establishment of Strong Links with Local Schools and Services
    • Reason: Facilitates smoother transitions for children and fosters a collaborative environment.
    • Tips: Attend local networking groups, encourage educators to interact with other service providers, and share resources.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours per month for networking and collaboration.
  3. Tailored Support for Educators
    • Reason: Addresses specific needs and concerns of educators, ensuring they can provide the best care and education.
    • Tips: Conduct regular home visits, offer professional learning sessions, and facilitate critical reflection.
    • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours per month for home visits and sessions.
  4. Active Engagement in Transition to School Initiatives
    • Reason: Ensures children are prepared for their next educational journey and fosters continuity of learning.
    • Tips: Collaborate with local schools, share resources, and engage in action research projects.
    • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours per month for planning and collaboration.
  5. Regular Reflective Conversations and Planning
    • Reason: Allows for continuous improvement and ensures practices align with the service’s philosophy.
    • Tips: Hold team meetings, discuss new practices, and develop future plans based on successes and feedback.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours per month for meetings and planning.

Case Study 2

This kindergarten/preschool, situated in an outer suburb of a major Victorian city, is committed to actively seeking out partnerships in response to the needs of the community. Their vision and approach to developing and sustaining collaborative partnerships with the community is informed by their service philosophy as well as the principles and practices of the Early Year Learning Framework (EYLF) and the practice principles of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), Victoria’s approved learning framework.

  1. Active Engagement with Community Groups and Organizations
    • Reason: Responds to the needs of the community and fosters a collaborative environment.
    • Tips: Partner with local schools, speech pathology services, community gardens, and councils.
    • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours per month for engagement and collaboration.
  2. Feedback and Input from Families and Community
    • Reason: Ensures the service is responsive and inclusive.
    • Tips: Develop welcome packs, conduct surveys, and encourage open communication.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours per month for feedback collection and analysis.
  3. Intergenerational Programs with Aged Care Facilities
    • Reason: Promotes inclusivity, understanding, and mutual respect between generations.
    • Tips: Conduct risk assessments, develop a model for visits, and encourage interactions in pairs or small groups.
    • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours per month for planning, visits, and reflections.
  4. Documentation and Reflection on Programs
    • Reason: Allows for continuous improvement and showcases the benefits of the programs.
    • Tips: Use photographs, children’s artwork, and written documentation. Share with families and use for reflection.
    • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours per month for documentation and sharing.
  5. Regular Review and Evaluation of Programs
    • Reason: Ensures programs remain effective and beneficial.
    • Tips: Form working groups, conduct bi-monthly meetings, and gather evidence about the benefits of the programs.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours per month for reviews and evaluations.

These steps, when implemented effectively, can significantly contribute to achieving an Exceeding NQS rating in Element 6.2.2.



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