In her first We Hear You blog as the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) Chief Executive Officer, Gabrielle Sinclair shares her thoughts about the National Quality Framework and a recent visit to the Northern Territory.
One of ACECQA’s functions is working with regulatory authorities to educate and inform services and the community about the National Quality Framework (NQF).
Since 2012, educators, services, schools and governments have undertaken a significant journey in implementing the new laws, regulations and the National Quality Standard. While it took time to get across the detail of the new national system, over 88% of services have now been assessed and rated, with 73% rated Meeting National Quality Standard or above. Over the next five years, our challenge is to continue the quality improvement journey and support parents and carers as well-informed consumers of education and care services for their children.
In my new role as ACECQA CEO, I am learning a great deal from you about the diversity of communities across Australia; the unique circumstances in which services operate; the rich experiences of families; and the way we all respond within a national framework.
Recently, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to meet with the Northern Territory Minister for Education and speak at the 2017 Leaders’ Conference in Darwin. I was impressed by the determination to raise quality in the NT and the unique way leaders in both sectors were enriching children’s experiences and improving learning outcomes. The continuous quality improvement journeys shared by Principals Leah, Joe and Graham, highlighted the critical fact that good leadership is all about results. To achieve better results, they spoke of giving a voice to the expertise and knowledge of early childhood educators, teachers and local families. They reflected on the immense value of listening to and understanding the perspectives of children.
During my visit to local services, I met with very insightful educational leaders who were deeply connected with their local communities. At Nightcliff, there is a strong partnership between the early learning centre and the school with the aim to give young children a seamless experience from long day care to preschool and on to school and outside school hours care. The results are tangible. The physical and sector barriers are being removed; the early learning centre and the school are sharing quality resources; families are welcomed; and the focus is very much on building confident, enthusiastic young learners.
In both education sectors and in every jurisdiction, we are listening to inspiring educational leaders who share their stories. Although each experience is unique, a common reflection is that improved, sustained results are unlikely to happen without a commitment at the highest level; a deep understanding of the NQF and the roles we all have; a determination to improve beyond a single point in time; respect for the early childhood profession; and genuine partnerships with families and the community.
We have learnt so much since 2012. It is worth sharing our own NQF journeys with others – across services, sectors and borders – and with our families. It is a truism that everything that gets measured gets better and, as Joe reflected, do our children deserve anything less?