In our last blog, Be You spoke to We Hear You about their national initiative for educators and how engagement with their program can help education and care services demonstrate the Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS) themes. In this follow-up blog, Be You chats with ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, and shares some case studies from services that use their implementation of the Be You initiative as evidence towards the Exceeding NQS themes.
‘Wellbeing incorporates both physical and psychological aspects and is central to belonging, being and becoming. Without a strong sense of wellbeing, it is difficult to have a sense of belonging, to trust others and feel confident in being, and to optimistically engage in experiences that contribute to becoming’. (EYLF. Pg.33 & MTOP pg. 30)
Be You promotes mental health and wellbeing of children aged from the early years to 18. Led by Beyond Blue with delivery partners Early Childhood Australia and headspace, it offers educators evidence-based online professional learning and an effective whole-learning community approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Exceeding NQS Theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations
Carey Bay Preschool in NSW has carried over some practices from previous KidsMatter engagement into their Be You Action Plan.
- Educational Leader Melinda Lynch and educator Taylah Sullivan have included mental health actions in the service’s Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).
- Nominated Supervisor Wendy March explains one practice captured in the service’s QIP in relation to Quality Area 4 element 4.2.2: Professional standards guide practice, interactions and relationships: “In our staff meetings, we continually reflect to ensure educators feel supported in their roles and discuss ways we can support one another.”
This is an example of one way that Carey Bay Preschool has embedded a commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of educators into service operations.
Exceeding NQS Theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection
Ruth Simpkins, Director of Griffith University Tallowood and Boronia Child Care Centres in QLD, regularly checks in with her Be You Consultant, Kathryn.
- During their online check-in, they use the Be You Reflection Tool to engage in professional conversations and document current practices, policies and procedures that promote wellbeing at the two services.
- Opportunities for continuous improvement are also identified and Ruth engages her staff in weekly discussions about creating a mentally healthy learning community.
- The documentation in the Reflection Tool, the commitment of regular check-ins with a Be You Consultant, and weekly discussions with staff all demonstrate that practice at Tallowwood and Boronia is informed by critical reflection.
Exceeding NQS Theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community
They have acknowledged and celebrated their existing practice of having an annual event at a local park to welcome new families. Educators have also reflected upon the diversity of family structures and how this impacts on their daily communication practices.
Through Be You, the service has committed to action to ensure that their communication is inclusive. For example, the service is making a commitment to communication practices which include both parents in separated families.
Engaging with Be You Professional Learning modules can promote learning and critical reflection on practices which engage families effectively, sensitively and confidentially. This fosters the mental health of children and young people.
In conversations about module content, actions to promote meaningful engagement with families can be documented in a Be You Action Plan: practices already in place, as well as planned future actions.
Through Be You, the service has committed to action to ensure that their communication is inclusive.
Educators have also committed to actioning some new practices to help families connect to the early learning service and the wider community. For example – they have committed to learning the names of family members to more meaningfully greet and interact with them; regularly inviting families to attend music sessions and excursions, and linking families with child and mental health services.
Bringing it all together
Hillsong Child Care Centres in NSW and QLD are using Be You to embed, inform and shape practice across all seven quality areas of the NQS.
- Debra Williams, National Compliance and Development Manager, is using the Be You Reflection tool as a source of reflective prompts for educators in their weekly self-assessment process, which focuses on individual elements of the NQS.
- In this way, the Be You Reflection Tool is assisting staff and management to gather ‘theme indicators’- evidence about how the services feel they currently demonstrate the Exceeding NQS themes – and generate ideas for ways to continuously grow and improve.
Each service is unique, and these case studies provide examples of the ways services can demonstrate the Exceeding NSW themes in ways which are relevant to their specific service, context and community.
Register to learn more
Registering your learning community for Be You is FREE and will provide access to Be You implementation tools and resources and the support of Be You Consultants. To learn more about how to connect Be You and the Exceeding NQS themes, book for one of the Essentials or National Check-In events.