Building Belonging: A toolkit for early childhood educators on cultural diversity and responding to racial prejudice

Megan Mitchell, Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner, talks to We Hear You about the launch of a new comprehensive toolkit by the Australian Human Rights Commission to help encourage respect for cultural diversity and tackle racial prejudice in early childhood settings.


“I don’t play with black kids cos my dad told me so.”

“I don’t want my colour skin because no-one likes it and it’s yucky.”

Do these sound like things children in your service have said to you?

These are examples of comments from children that early childhood educators provided to the Australian Human Rights Commission, in a survey on the challenges to educating about cultural diversity and addressing prejudice.

Last year, the Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a survey with over 400 early childhood educators across Australia to capture their views and experiences of cultural diversity and racial prejudice in their early childhood services.

Many educators reported hearing comments like those above. What’s more, educators told us that they commonly encountered prejudicial attitudes or behaviours from parents and other educators, as well as from children.

43% of educators said they had heard a child say something negative about another person’s racial, cultural or ethnic background and 49% told us they had heard a parent say something negative on the same grounds.

“[A parent said] ‘I’m not racist, but how can someone from another country teach my children and we cannot understand what they are saying’.” (Survey respondent)

 “A parent was disgusted that we had to show respect to Aboriginal culture, even though we celebrate other cultures in the centre.” (Survey respondent)

Many educators indicated they felt unsure how to effectively respond to these challenges.

“I think the main difficulty is that many people feel uncomfortable addressing prejudice. So if a child makes a comment, educators aren’t confident in talking about the issue and instead give an answer about how it’s not nice to say those things or we’re all friends in preschool.” (Survey respondent)

In response to this, the Australian Human Rights Commission, with the support of a reference group made up of early childhood educators and other specialists, has developed its very first early childhood resource.

Building Belonging’ is a comprehensive toolkit which includes an eBook, song with actions, educator guide, posters and lesson plans. The resources aim to provide educators with simple and practical ideas on how to handle challenging or confronting questions about racial differences, while also offering children stimulating activities and games to engage them with ideas around cultural diversity.

It is important that children in Australia today grow up with an appreciation and respect for the diversity of cultures, races and ethnicities that surround them.

As National Children’s Commissioner, I seek to promote and advocate for the rights of all children and young people in Australia. This includes making sure children and young people know about their rights and how to claim them.

Children are never too young to start learning about their rights and responsibilities. Children who grow up knowing that they, and everyone around them, have rights will carry the messages of respect and dignity that accompany this knowledge into adulthood.

Through engaging with these resources, educators have an opportunity to shape positive practices and provide all children with an early sense of their value, agency and belonging.

I hope you find these resources useful in assisting children in your services to develop empathy and respect for others. I’d love to hear what you and the children in your services think of the resources. You can get in touch with me via email or social media:


Facebook: MeganM4Kids

Twitter: @MeganM4Kids

Information about the ‘Building Belonging’ toolkit and links to the free resources are available on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.


The role of the educational leader: Part 3

During the month of October, We Hear You will be showcasing a three-part series exploring the development of ‘The role of the educational leader’.

In the final instalment of the series, we turn our focus on the way educational leaders work with teams to set goals for both teaching and learning that help bring the program to life.

Part 3: Setting goals and expectations for teaching and learning

The final instalment in our educational leader series focuses on how leaders work with teams to set goals for both teaching and learning that help bring the curriculum to life. The expectations in Standard 7.1 of the National Quality Standard include establishing a positive organisational culture and creating a professional learning community. This involves recognising and acknowledging leadership as a collaborative endeavour. It is about building the capacity of educators through developing trusting relationships where teams work together and support each other to improve outcomes for children (Thornton, 2010).

The Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care acknowledge an important consideration when considering goals and expectations for teaching and learning:

Children are receptive to a wide range of experiences. What is included or excluded from the curriculum affects how children, learn, develop and understand the world (p. 9/6).

What is the best way to go about setting goals for teaching and learning?

Just like other aspects of the educational leader’s role, there is no one right way. The Guide to the National Quality Standard (page 87) provides some examples of strategies that educational leaders might use. Developing a strong understanding across the service of the principles, practices and learning outcomes in the relevant learning framework is a great starting point to collaboratively decide on teaching and learning goals.


belonging_page10The collective knowledge about pedagogy; child (and/or adolescent) development; the relevant learning frameworks; the service’s philosophy and policies; National Quality Standard and underpinning legislative standards and most importantly the collective knowledge about individual children, families and the community is a strong foundation for determining relevant goals and expectations for teaching and learning. It is essential to think about the service context in the process of identifying relevant goals and expectations.

It is worthwhile, spending some time thinking about:

  • additional strategies the educational leader could use to build educators’ understanding of teaching and learning
  • how the educational leader works with other educators to support and extend children’s learning
  • how new ideas and research are incorporated into the educational program and practice
  • what opportunities are available for discussion and reflective practice
  • what aspects of the service philosophy guide goals for teaching and learning.

When the organisational climate promotes respect, collaboration, reflection and  exploration of new ideas, theories and strategies, issues relating to program quality, environment design, equity and children’s wellbeing can be raised and debated (Early Years Learning Framework p. 13; Framework for School Age Care, p. 13).

The role of the educational leader connects across many quality areas and will involve the educational leader navigating and linking a range of systems, processes and policies across the service’s operations. In addition to the standards and elements in Quality Area 1, the following are particularly relevant when thinking about the support and mentoring role of the educational leader:

  • Standard 1.2: Educators and co-ordinators are focused, active and reflective in designing and delivering the program for each child.
  • Element 4.2.2: Educators, co-ordinators and staff members work collaboratively and affirm, challenge, support and learn from each other to further develop their skills and to improve practice and relationships.
  • Element 7.2.2: The performance of educators, co-ordinators and staff members is evaluated and individual development plans are in place to support performance improvement.

Educational leaders are encouraged to reflect on how they are supporting critical reflection with teams in ways that encourage teams to work together and challenge each other. When setting goals for teaching and learning, ownership and commitment are more likely to be built if children, educators and families are involved in the process. The process of identifying and prioritising goals and expectations is also likely to assist in identifying professional development priorities and goals.

What is the best way to document goals for teaching and learning?

While there are no specific requirements on how to implement or document the way the educational leader guides the curriculum and sets goals for teaching and learning, it makes sense to have a plan that links to what the service already has in place. Suggestions include making links to the service’s Quality Improvement Plan, Strategic Plan, Reconciliation Action Plan and Strategic Improvement Plan to make explicit the strategies the educational leader is implementing to support continuous improvement and outcomes for children. The goals may also be woven through, reflected in, or align with the service’s philosophy and program planning and evaluation documents.

It is important to remember that the most effective and sustained changes and enhancements occur when teams work collaboratively to research, negotiate, shape and implement reform. Take it slow, collaborate with others, learn from experiences and don’t forget to celebrate the achievements along the way.

Further reading and resources

  • Green, J. & Bickley, M. (2013). Developing a Learning Community for Educational Leaders, Reflections, Winter: 51, Gowrie NSW
  • ACECQA – National Education Leader resources
  • Thornton, K. (2010) School leadership and student outcomes: The best evidence synthesis iteration: Relevance for early childhood education and implications for leadership practice, Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 25(1), pp. 31-41

The role of the educational leader: Part 2

During the month of October, We Hear You will be showcasing a three-part series exploring the development of ‘The role of the educational leader’.

In the second instalment, we look at the ways educational leaders use their skills, knowledge and understandings to lead the development of the curriculum/program and consider how the service context influences the development of the curriculum.

Part 2: Leading the development of the curriculum

In this second part of the educational leader series, we follow on from exploring the why, what and how of educational leadership in education and care services to considering how leaders use their skills, knowledge and understandings to meet the requirements of National Quality Standard (NQS) Element 7.1.4, relating to leading the development of the curriculum/program.

In unpacking this component of the role, it is important to identify the relevant standard and elements of the NQS and consider strategies to ensure each member of the team is supported to build their capacity and feel empowered to contribute to rich and meaningful learning and leisure experiences for children. In particular, educational leaders can support educators to understand and implement:

  • Standard 1.1: An approved learning framework informs the development of a curriculum that enhances each child’s learning and development.
    • Element 1.1.2: Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program.
    • Element 1.1.6: Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and influence events and their world.

Some questions to prompt discussion and reflection include:

  • What are the team’s current understandings of the approved learning frameworks and in what ways are they informing educator planning and practice?
  • How do the principles and practices outlined in the learning frameworks inform our work with children and families?
  • What could the team do to further build this knowledge and understandings to enhance practice?
  • In what ways does the program reflect the view promoted in the learning frameworks of children as capable, competent learners, active contributors, agents of change and co-constructors of knowledge? How might this aspect be strengthened and shared with families?

How does the service context influence the development of the curriculum?

The approved learning frameworks remind us that:

Curriculum encompasses all the interactions, experiences, routines and events, planned and unplanned, that occur in an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development (Early Years Learning Framework p. 9; Framework for School Age Care, p. 6).

A strength of the learning frameworks and the NQS is the recognition of the importance of the context in which the service is being delivered. The curriculum is influenced by the children, families, educators and community as well as the hours of operation, service type and learning framework implemented. The service philosophy, policies and procedures and the theories that inform educators’ thinking and practice will also shape the curriculum.

These factors influence the uniqueness of each service. You would not expect, for example, the curriculum in a sessional preschool or kindergarten implementing the Early Years Learning Framework to look like the curriculum in an outside school hours care service, as, apart from the difference in children’s ages, a strong focus of the Framework for School Age Care is on leisure and recreation. Educational leaders, in collaboration with educators, are empowered to use their significant knowledge and understanding of the service context to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum. The context is also an important consideration for educational leaders when thinking about what mentoring, support and guidance will be most beneficial to assist educators to reflect on and enhance their practices.

The Educator Guides to the learning frameworks – Educators My Time, Our Place and Educators Belonging, Being & Becoming –  are invaluable resources for educational leaders providing helpful examples, explanations and reflective activities.

What are some effective strategies to inform and guide the development of the curriculum?

Engaging in professional conversations with educators across the service is an effective strategy to encourage continuous improvement and has the potential to inform enhancements to the curriculum. A professional conversation is ‘the formal and informal dialogue that occurs between education professionals including teachers, mentors, coaches and school leaders, which is focused on educational matters’ (AITSL, 2014).

The following diagram may be helpful in thinking about the key elements of an effective professional conversation.

When considering the opportunities for an educational leader to engage in professional conversations with educators across the service to lead and guide the development of the curriculum, the following questions may be useful to prompt discussion and reflection:

  • What do educators talk about professionally?
  • Where do these conversations happen, when do they happen, and are they effective?
  • What is the impact of the discussions the educational leader has with educators on developing expertise and improving outcomes for children?
  • What opportunities exist or can be created for educational leaders to enable, encourage and participate in professional conversations between educators that result in continual improvement of the educational program?
  • What strategies could educational leaders implement to keep abreast of developments and research in early childhood and share this information with educators?
  • What opportunities exist or can be established for educational leaders to link with the broader community, including other services, professional groups and, most importantly, other educational leaders, to learn and discuss and share information?

Some educational leaders have also engaged with educators in action learning or research projects. Action learning or research is carried out in the course of a professional environment, typically in the field of education, using research and inquiry to improve the methods and approach of those involved to address issues or challenges which have been identified or seek out opportunities for improvement. Action learning or research projects support educators to reflect on and enhance their pedagogy and practice. They can also link to Element 1.2.3 and critical reflection, which is, according to assessment and rating data, the most challenging of all 58 elements.

Further reading and resources

  • ACECQA – Information sheet: The role of the educational leader
  • ACECQA – Guide to the National Quality Standard
  • AITSL (2014). ‘Professional conversations’, Professional growth
  • Rodd, J. (2012). The role of effective leadership in achieving high quality provision in preschools and early learning centres, Association of independent schools of South Australia (AIAAS).
  • Rodd, J. (2013). Leadership in Early Childhood: The pathway to professionalism. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
  • Siraj-Blatchford, I. & Manni, L. (2006). Effective Leadership in the Early Years Sector (ELEYS) Study. London: Institute of Education, University of London.
  • Waniganayake, M., Rodd, J. and Gibbs, L. (2015). Thinking and learning about leadership. Sydney, Australia: Community Childcare Cooperative.

Read Part 1: The role of the educational leader: aims, objectives and intent

Stay tuned for our final instalment where we will turn our focus on the way educational leaders work with teams to set goals for both teaching and learning that help bring the program to life in Part 3: Setting goals and expectations for teaching and learning.

The role of the educational leader: Part 1

During the month of October, We Hear You will be showcasing a three-part series exploring the development of ‘The role of the educational leader’.

In the first instalment, we consider the history of the role, the reasons behind its introduction as well as the aims, objectives and intent of educational leadership.

Part 1: The role of the educational leader: aims, objectives and intent

When speaking to the education and care sector and in our collaborative work with regulatory authorities, we often are asked about support to assist educational leaders better understand the role and how the role supports quality provision. The scope of the aims, objectives and intent of the role is our focus in this first of our three-part series addressing the why, the what and the how of educational leadership.

At this stage, it might be useful to recap why the role was introduced and what the requirement of having an educational leader aims to achieve.

In the development of Belonging, Being and Becoming: Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) there was much discussion about (and recognition of) the role of pedagogical/educational leaders in supporting educators in the process of planning, implementing and evaluating quality programs in early childhood education and care services. Similarly, the significance of the role was acknowledged in the development of the My Time Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (FSAC).

The importance of this role was also recognised in the development of the National Quality Standard (NQS), which was informed by national and international research. In particular, the OECD Starting Strong II Early Childhood Education and Care report identified the importance of paying attention to both structural and process quality to ensure quality outcomes.

The Guide to the National Quality Standard identifies the key aims and objectives of the role, noting that:

Effective curriculum development requires ambitious goals and clarity of purpose. It requires attending to the principles, practice and outcomes of the approved learning framework. The role of the educational leader is to work with educators to provide curriculum direction and to ensure children achieve the outcomes of the approved learning framework (p. 178).

Educational leaders play an integral role in mentoring, guiding and supporting educators. As part of continuous improvement, the educational leader of a service may reflect on the strategies needed to develop the curriculum and the educational program in the service. The most effective educational leaders work collaboratively with educators, children and families to decide ambitious goals for the curriculum as well as the focus and purpose of the educational program.

Effective leadership creates a positive organisational culture that values openness and trust, where people are motivated to ask questions, debate issues and contribute to each other’s ongoing learning inquiry (Guide to the National Quality Standard, p. 165).

The educational leader’s role in a service will contribute to the organisational culture and develop a professional learning community across a service and potentially more broadly by networking with other education and care services and professionals from other disciplines. This approach involves conceptualising the role, not simply as one concerned with checking educators’ and children’s records, but instead, as a leader who supports educators, families and the community and builds their understanding of early and middle years pedagogy. This involves building capacity to discuss and engage in a cycle of planning for play and leisure based learning. Research highlights the link between quality and educator understanding of pedagogy, relationships, sustained shared thinking as well as assessing and planning learning (Siraj-Blatchford and Manni, 2006, p. 6).


A lively culture of professional enquiry is established when educators, co-ordinators and staff members are encouraged to build their professional knowledge, reflect on their practice and generate new ideas (EYLF, p. 13; FSAC, p. 11).

ACECQA’s information sheet about the role of the educational leader summarises the requirements under the National Quality Framework (NQF). Beyond the specifics outlined within the NQF, the educational leader has a role to play in guiding the service and its educators through self-assessment processes, supporting educators to self-assess their own skills, knowledge and understandings and to plan (using mechanisms such as the service’s quality improvement plan or performance plans)  strategies to develop the areas that need strengthening.

Questions for educational leaders to guide self-assessment:

  • What are my understandings of leadership?
  • What theories of leadership guide and inform my practice?
  • What strategies could I implement to strengthen my own communication and interpersonal skills?
  • Am I confident in my understandings of the approved learning frameworks?
  • How does the service’s philosophy guide the implementation of the educational leader role?
  • What ongoing learning do I need to engage in to strengthen my abilities to lead and guide the curriculum and educational program?

Further reading and resources

Stay tuned for our next instalment where we will consider the way educational leaders use their skills, knowledge and understandings in Part 2: Leading the development of the curriculum.

Thinking about applying for the Excellent rating?

We regularly hear of exceptional practice occurring in education and care services however when speaking with educators and providers, many are unsure of what it takes to be rated Excellent by ACECQA. In this We Hear You post, ACECQA provides advice on applying for the rating and we hear tips from the Director of an Excellent rated service, Megan Dodds of KU Corrimal East Preschool.

Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS) overall are eligible to apply to ACECQA for the highest quality rating – the Excellent rating.

Many of these services are delivering exceptional practice but are hesitant to apply for the Excellent rating, thinking the application process involves a lot of work. While this might be a common first impression, the process needn’t be as time-consuming and complex as you may think. The truly hard work lies in the delivery of exceptional practice.

Choosing to apply for the Excellent rating may involve some internal discussions and as Megan from KU Corrimal East Preschool describes, getting started is a time for reflection.

Once a service has decided to apply, they will need to submit an application which addresses the following criteria:

  1. The service exemplifies and promotes exceptional education and care that improves outcomes for children and families.
  2. The service demonstrates leadership that contributes to the development of a community, a local area, or the wider education and care sector.
  3. The service demonstrates commitment to sustained excellent practice through continuous improvement and comprehensive forward planning.

This is a different process to that carried out by the regulatory authority during assessment and rating as Megan shares.

The application does not need to be lengthy; you can succinctly describe exemplary examples of leadership, environments and/or practices and the resultant quality outcomes for children and families.

For KU Corrimal East Preschool, choosing the themes to respond to was one of the most challenging parts of the application process.

There is no one set formula; each application will be different and assessed in relation to the context of the service and community. The focus is not the amount of information provided or the format you choose to present it in, but rather on the way the application clearly identifies and outlines genuine examples of:

  • leadership, practice and/or environments that address the criteria and themes, and
  • quality outcomes for children, families and communities.

Excellence is contextual; it is about improving outcomes for children, families and communities while connecting with community through strong leadership and a commitment to engaging with continuous improvement on a deep level.

When preparing your application, Megan suggests that you collaborate and network to get other people’s perspectives on the work that you do as this may identify ideas for your application that you had not considered.

ACECQA staff will seek additional information from the relevant regulatory authority and will conduct a teleconference to discuss the application. A visit may also be arranged to verify, clarify or add to the information provided in the application. ACECQA staff are also available to answer questions and guide applicants through the process.

ACECQA has awarded the Excellent rating to a range of services across Australia. Long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, kindergartens and preschools in both city and regional areas and across the range of socio-economic areas have been recognised.

For more information about the application process, take a look at the application criteria and guidelines and the presentation identifying tips on addressing the selection criteria.

Unpacking the planning cycle: Part 3

During the month of September, We Hear You will be featuring a special three-part series exploring the ongoing planning cycle and documentation – ‘Unpacking the planning cycle’.

In the final instalment of our series, we close the loop on the planning cycle by returning to documentation and records, as well as the practice of evaluating children’s learning and wellbeing using the learning frameworks and educator guides.

Unpacking the planning cycle - blog graphic

Unpacking the planning cycle

Part 3: Closing the loop: Planning, implementing and evaluating

In part two of our series, we looked at Gathering meaningful information, questioning and interpreting the learning. We considered some questions to reflect on about the effectiveness of methods used to capture children’s strengths, interests and relationships over time and to consider whether Element 1.2.1 (Each child’s learning and development is assessed as part of an ongoing cycle of planning, documenting and evaluation) was visible in this process.

This article closes the loop of the planning cycle by returning to children’s records and evaluating children’s learning and wellbeing as well as reflecting on the effectiveness of pedagogy.

The learning frameworks emphasise assessing, planning and documenting children’s learning, development and wellbeing, enabling educators in partnership with children, families and other professionals to:

  • plan effectively for children’s current and future learning/wellbeing
  • communicate about children’s learning and progress
  • determine the extent to which all children are progressing toward realising learning outcomes and if not, what might be impeding their progress
  • identify children who may need additional support to achieve particular learning outcomes, providing that support or assisting families to access specialist help
  • evaluate the effectiveness of learning opportunities, environments and experiences offered and the approaches taken to enable children’s learning/ wellbeing
  • reflect on pedagogy that will suit this context and these children (Early Years Learning Framework, p.17/ Framework for School Age Care, p.16).

The Educator guides to the approved learning frameworks support educators to engage in the planning cycle, with a particular focus on completing the cycle by assessing and evaluating learning and wellbeing. This is a key component of the process and involves educator decision making about the educational program and practice. It involves setting goals and planning experiences, interactions and environments that build on children’s interests, abilities and identities in relation to the learning outcomes.

At this stage, it is helpful to revisit the series of vignettes from article two in this series, which presented examples across a range of different ages. Here, each example showcases a number of methods and techniques to collect information as well as the addition of goals, plans and the evaluation of learning and wellbeing.




Thoughts and ideas for your next team meeting:

  • Where are we in terms of our individual and collective team skills and knowledge about the planning cycle?
  • What does this mean for individual and collective professional development plans?

Resources and further reading

Early Childhood Australia – Planning and documentation video series

Gowrie – Early Years Learning framework –  Assessing children’s learning

ACECQA – Cycle of planning

We hope you have found this blog series informative, thought provoking and a catalyst for quality improvement. If you would like to further investigate Quality Area 1, the webcast of the ACECQA National Workshop Educational program and practice is a great place to start. It provides information and resources, as well as prompts for educators to reflect on their professional development needs.

Read the complete series:

Part 1: Why do we document? Thinking through the what and the how of the cycle of planning for children’s learning, wellbeing and development

Part 2: Gathering meaningful information, questioning and interpreting the learning

Part 3: Closing the loop: Planning, implementing and evaluating

Inspiring Excellent practice

Educators often ask how they can implement practice from Excellent rated services. Megan Alston, the manager of ACECQA’s Educational Leadership & Excellence team, explains that excellence is driven by context and describes how services can learn from highly accomplished programs, partnerships and practices.


One of the purposes of the Excellent rating is for our sector to learn from and be inspired by examples of highly accomplished practice, innovation and creativity in education and care. It’s one of the reasons why ACECQA shares examples of practice from Excellent rated services.

Sometimes it’s obvious why practice we’ve shared is excellent, because the example is so new, fresh, interesting and creative. At other times we describe highly accomplished practice, but the example might not sound so remarkable. This can be because a practice that achieves outstanding outcomes at one service may be out of place at another. Excellence is driven by context.

You might be wondering, if excellence is context dependent, then how does ACECQA identify highly accomplished practice? How can excellence be achieved or explained? Is it more than a matter of simply copying a project that another service has done?

While there is a lot to learn from hearing about programs, partnerships and practices of Excellent rated services, there is even more to learn from the process used to identify, implement, evaluate and adapt these programs and practices. When you consider the process, it becomes clearer that highly accomplished practice can be delivered in any setting and will more often than not reflect the setting it is in.

This process tends to involve:

  1. Developing a deep understanding of the service’s children and families, and the community in which they live
  2. Implementing programs, practices and partnerships that support the circumstances, strengths, needs, and interests of the children and families that attend the service
  3. Reviewing, adjusting and extending programs, practices and partnerships
  4. Knowing things are working because the programs, partnerships and programs improve outcomes for the children and families attending the service.

These four areas are explored below including examples from services rated Excellent by ACECQA.


In highly accomplished services, there is a demonstrated deep understanding of the circumstances, strengths, capabilities and interests of the children and families who attend the service.  This deep understanding can be developed in a number of ways:

  • Discussions with children and families, including conversations, surveys, forms and information nights
  • Working collaboratively with professionals such as health experts who bring a different perspective and understanding of the children and families attending the service
  • Undertaking, reading or participating in research that reveals information about the children and families attending the service.

Educators and other staff who use some or all of these techniques build a complex understanding of the children and families. They are then in a position to implement targeted programs, practices and partnerships that improve education outcomes.

Baxter Kindergarten and Children’s Centre uses socio economic and census data to learn about families in its area. The service examined the available information and, understanding that many families in the area work during weekends, introduced an extended hours program to meet the needs of the community.

At exceptional services, educators and staff also know and understand the environment and community in which they operate. They identify organisations and build community partnerships to support and enrich the experiences of children and families.

Gowrie Victoria Docklands implemented an extensive “community connections excursion program” to build and maintain children’s connections with the service’s local community after learning that only 31% of families who attend the service live locally.


In highly accomplished services, educators and other staff engage in deep critical reflection. They implement, review and adapt programs, practices and partnerships and can define and describe the improvements that flow to children and families. By working in partnership with families, children and the community they can research and seek out options, work with and learn from other professionals and access training to help them accomplish their goals.

Knowing that many of the families using the service are mining families, Bundaberg Family Day Care developed a resources pack called FIFO-DIDO-BIBO (Fly In Fly Out – Drive In Drive Out – Bus In Bus Out) containing strategies for families to support their children while a parent is away from home. Further to this, after figures revealed high rates of obesity in Bundaberg the service developed a free school holiday program to promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity within the community.

Taking advantage of its local surroundings and through investigating strategies to energise children’s play, Pelican Waters implemented a ‘Bush and Beach Kindy’ program to develop children’s understanding of the local land and extend their nature-based play.

Bribie Island Community Kindergarten involved families with the design and construction of the outdoor area of the service; ideas were suggested which educators have researched further and re-designed to fit the space. Families also made or donated resources including a thongaphone, learning circle, pipe track and bush telephone.


In highly accomplished services, educators critically reflect on their programs, practices and partnerships and adapt and extend these where needed to achieve better outcomes.

After identifying a need for hearing impaired children, Albury Preschool secured a grant to install a Soundfield Amplification System to assist children with hearing impairments to learn. The service then partnered with Charles Sturt University to undertake its own research project to measure how the amplification system positively benefits all children.

Addressing high levels of disadvantage in the local community, Swallowcliffe operates multiple integrated programs to improve education outcomes. Educators and staff phone families weekly to follow up on non-attendance or share good news stories about their child’s achievements.

University of Western Australia Early Learning Centre (UWA ELC) participated in a research project on sign language for babies. Noticing improvements for children from increased bonding with families and educators, the service extended this by introducing video clips with more words and some families took classes to implement signing at home.


Educators and staff at highly accomplished services identify targets and know when they have improved outcomes for children and families. They can clearly define and share these.

Globe Wilkins established relationships with Wunanbiri Preschool and the Multi Mix Mob to strengthen the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives at the service. This resulted in more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families enrolling with the service.

When ACECQA assesses applications for the Excellent rating we look for innovation and creativity, but also for practice that is highly accomplished. We look at how:

  • educators and staff at the service understand the children and families and the environment in which they live
  • the service’s practices, projects and partnerships are tailored to take into account and build on the unique circumstances and strengths of the children and families
  • the educators and staff at the service partner with children, families and community agencies to create exceptional outcomes.

The process used by highly accomplished services – to identify, implement, evaluate and adapt programs and practices – can be implemented in any service type, whether it is big or small or based in a city, suburb or regional area.

Remember, exceptional practice is one aspect of the Excellent rating criteria. Excellent rated services also demonstrate leadership that develops a local area, community or the sector and demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and comprehensive forward planning.

See the ACECQA website for more information about the Excellent rating.