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:
- The service exemplifies and promotes exceptional education and care that improves outcomes for children and families.
- The service demonstrates leadership that contributes to the development of a community, a local area, or the wider education and care sector.
- 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.