Exceeding NQS in Quality Area 7: Development of professionals (Element 7.2.3)

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 7: Element 7.2.3

To achieve an Exceeding NQS rating in the National Quality Standard 7.2, specifically for ELEMENT 7.2.3 DEVELOPMENT OF PROFESSIONALS, here’s an exhaustive list of practical steps based on the provided references:

Element 7.2.3: Development of Professionals

  • Regular Performance Evaluation: Ensure that educators, coordinators, and staff members’ performance is regularly evaluated.
  • Individual Learning and Development Plans: Implement individual plans to support learning and development for each staff member.
  • Performance Planning and Review: This should ensure that the knowledge, skills, and practices of educators and other staff members are current. Address areas requiring further development.
  • Self-assessment: Provide opportunities for educators to assess their own work performance against their job description, relevant code of ethics, and the service’s code of conduct.
  • Recognize Strengths: Acknowledge the specific strengths and contributions of each educator, motivating them to continue to learn and develop professionally.
  • Supportive Approach: Address areas that require improvement using a supportive and professional approach, assisting in accessing opportunities for ongoing learning.
  • Mentoring: Encourage educational and/or service leaders to take on an active mentoring role, developing individual professional development plans that support creativity, innovation, and continuous quality improvement.
  • Stay Updated: Support educators to stay abreast of current policies, practice, and thinking, such as inclusive policies and practice.
  • Performance Review Components:
    • Planning: Identify opportunities for capacity building, leadership, and set timelines for goals and reviews.
    • Review: Link to service vision and philosophy, review of the previous plan, and acknowledge achievements.
    • Improvement: Set clear goals with measurable indicators, plan for professional learning, and collaborate with the educational leader.

Exceeding NQS Guidance for Standard 7.2: Leadership

  • Embedded Practice: Ensure that the practice occurs consistently, frequently, and intentionally as part of an ongoing process understood and implemented by all educators.
  • Critical Reflection: Engage in a deep level of regular and ongoing analysis, questioning, and thinking that goes beyond evaluation and review. This reflection should influence decision-making and drive continuous quality improvement.
  • Engagement with Families/Community: Actively seek input, guidance, and feedback from children, families, and the community. This engagement should foster a culture of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging for all.

Practical Steps based on Exceeding Theme Guidance:

  1. Practice is embedded in service operations:
    • Ensure educators, the educational leader, and coordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard.
    • Build and promote a positive organizational culture that supports all members to develop as professionals.
    • Support educators through ongoing professional development opportunities, such as mentoring.
    • Ensure all members actively participate in the service’s ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement process.
  2. Practice is informed by critical reflection:
    • Reflect on the service’s approach to leadership, ensuring it’s informed by robust debate, discussion, and past incidents.
    • Regularly reflect on the service’s quality improvement processes and make changes where opportunities are identified.
    • Enable all members of the service team to provide feedback on quality improvement processes.
  3. Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community:
    • Ensure leadership at the service reflects the unique geographical, cultural, and community context of the service.
    • Support families and the community to participate meaningfully in the service’s quality improvement processes.
    • Build and maintain community partnerships that strengthen the professional learning community.

By following these steps and ensuring that all practices are embedded, 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 the National Quality Standard 7.2.

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, prioritization is key. Here’s a suggested monthly schedule for an educator to work on improving their service based on the practical steps provided:

Week 1: Self-assessment and Planning

  • Hours 1-2: Conduct a thorough self-assessment. Review job description, relevant code of ethics, and the service’s code of conduct. Identify strengths and areas that require improvement.
  • Hours 3-4: Begin drafting an individual learning and development plan. Outline specific goals and areas of focus for the month.

Week 2: Engage with Resources and Training

  • Hours 1-2: Research and identify professional development opportunities, such as online courses, workshops, or seminars that align with the identified areas of improvement.
  • Hours 3-4: Start an online course or attend a workshop. If not feasible, dedicate this time to reading relevant literature or resources.

Week 3: Engage with Families and Community

  • Hours 1-2: Plan and conduct a feedback session with families. This could be in the form of a short survey or informal discussions to understand their needs, concerns, and suggestions.
  • Hours 3-4: Analyze the feedback received. Identify common themes and areas where the service can improve in terms of engagement with families and the community.

Week 4: Reflect, Collaborate, and Update

  • Hours 1-2: Collaborate with the educational leader or a mentor. Discuss the self-assessment, the feedback from families, and the learnings from the professional development activities. Seek guidance on how to implement changes effectively.
  • Hours 3-4: Update the individual learning and development plan based on the month’s activities. Reflect on the progress made and set goals for the next month.

Additional Tips:

  1. Documentation: Maintain a journal or digital document to track progress, reflections, and learnings throughout the month.
  2. Stay Updated: Dedicate a few minutes each week to stay abreast of current policies, practices, and thinking in the field of education.
  3. Network: Engage with peers and other educators to share experiences, challenges, and best practices. This can provide fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.

By following this schedule, the educator can make the most of their limited time each week, ensuring a structured approach to continuous improvement.

Reflective Questions

Reflective questions are essential for deepening understanding and enhancing practice. Here’s an exhaustive list of reflective questions tailored for Element 7.2.3 – Development of Professionals:

  1. Self-Assessment and Performance:
    • How do I measure my performance against the expectations set in my job description?
    • In what areas do I excel, and where do I face challenges in my role?
    • How do my personal values align with the service’s code of conduct and the relevant code of ethics?
  2. Learning and Development:
    • What are my current professional development goals?
    • How do these goals align with the needs and objectives of the service?
    • What resources or training do I need to achieve these goals?
    • How do I stay updated with the latest policies, practices, and thinking in my field?
  3. Feedback and Improvement:
    • How often do I seek feedback on my performance from peers, supervisors, and families?
    • How do I incorporate this feedback into my practice?
    • What strategies have I put in place to address areas of improvement identified during performance reviews?
  4. Collaboration and Mentoring:
    • How do I collaborate with the educational leader and other team members to enhance my professional practice?
    • In what ways have I benefited from mentoring or peer support within the service?
    • How do I contribute to the mentoring and development of newer or less experienced team members?
  5. Engagement with Families and Community:
    • How do I engage with families to understand their expectations and feedback regarding my role and the service?
    • How do I ensure that my practice is inclusive and respectful of the diverse backgrounds and needs of the families in our service?
    • In what ways do I collaborate with the community to enhance my professional knowledge and practice?
  6. Continuous Improvement:
    • How do I ensure that my practice is consistently aligned with the National Quality Framework?
    • How do I contribute to the service’s ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement processes?
    • What steps do I take to ensure that my professional development activities lead to tangible improvements in my practice and the service’s outcomes?
  7. Professional Growth and Motivation:
    • How do I stay motivated and passionate about my role and continuous learning?
    • What achievements in my professional journey am I most proud of?
    • How do I ensure that my professional growth benefits not just me but also the children, families, and the broader service community?
  8. Future Planning:
    • Where do I see myself professionally in the next year, and what steps am I taking to get there?
    • How do I ensure that my professional development plans are flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the service and the education sector?

By regularly reflecting on these questions, educators can gain deeper insights into their practice, identify areas for growth, and take proactive steps towards continuous professional development.

Learning from ACEQA case studies

Let’s break down the practical steps taken by the services in the provided case studies to achieve Exceeding NQS standards in Element 7.2.3, along with the reasons, tips, and estimated time for implementation:

Case Study 1

This outside school hours care program, situated in a rural community, was keen to rethink their approach to developing their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) as part of their vision for quality. Inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and specifically Article 12, they wanted to ensure children had every opportunity to express their views in matters affecting them and for those views to be taken into account.

  1. Engaging Children in Decision Making:
    • Reason: Ensuring children have opportunities to express their views in matters affecting them.
    • Tips: Use tools like ‘talking circles’ for consultations and provide children with multiple mediums (drawing, writing) to express their views.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 weeks to set up and integrate into regular practice.
  2. Mentoring and Shared Critical Reflection:
    • Reason: Supporting educators in understanding and implementing new strategies.
    • Tips: Pair educators with complementary skills and set aside regular times for reflection and discussion.
    • Estimated Time: Ongoing, with initial setup taking 1-2 weeks.
  3. Engaging Families in the QIP Review Process:
    • Reason: Ensuring families understand and contribute to the service’s quality improvement journey.
    • Tips: Use visual displays, provide notepaper for feedback, and have educators available for discussions.
    • Estimated Time: 2-4 weeks for setup and ongoing engagement.
  4. Using the ACECQA QIP Self-Assessment Tool:
    • Reason: To critically reflect on current practices against the NQS.
    • Tips: Take one quality area at a time and use reflective questions from the Guide to the NQF.
    • Estimated Time: 3-6 months, depending on the depth of reflection and discussion.
  5. Engaging Children in Staff Recruitment:
    • Reason: Valuing children’s perspectives in key service decisions.
    • Tips: Allow children to design interview questions, be part of interview panels, and have a say in final decisions.
    • Estimated Time: 1-2 months for integration into the recruitment process.

Case Study 2

This council-run family day care service is situated in a local government area that covers a large geographical area and is on the outskirts of a major city. The council’s Children’s Services department also manages a range of other education and care services including long day care, occasional care and outside school hours care services.

  1. Commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
    • Reason: Upholding children’s rights and promoting best practices.
    • Tips: Share information about initiatives with families and engage them in public forums.
    • Estimated Time: Ongoing, with initial setup and communication taking 1-2 weeks.
  2. Distributed Leadership Approach:
    • Reason: To utilize the strengths, expertise, and interests of all coordinators.
    • Tips: Engage in critical reflection to understand and implement distributed leadership, and revise role descriptions accordingly.
    • Estimated Time: 2-3 months for discussions, revisions, and implementation.
  3. Engaging Educators in Professional Learning:
    • Reason: To support quality outcomes and align with the service’s vision.
    • Tips: Provide a mix of online and face-to-face professional learning sessions based on educators’ interests.
    • Estimated Time: Ongoing, with initial setup taking 1-2 months.
  4. Engaging Families in Professional Learning:
    • Reason: To create a shared understanding and consistent approach between home and service.
    • Tips: Organize sessions on topics of shared interest and provide follow-up reading materials.
    • Estimated Time: 2-4 weeks for planning and execution of each session.
  5. Regular Feedback Mechanisms:
    • Reason: To keep track of current priorities and interests.
    • Tips: Use bi-annual family surveys and engage educators in discussions about feedback.
    • Estimated Time: 1-2 weeks for setup and ongoing engagement every 6 months.

Implementing these steps will require a dedicated effort from the entire service team. It’s essential to prioritize based on the service’s current needs and resources, and to engage all stakeholders in the process.



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