Keeping up quality in times of change

Posted 1 June 2020

From natural disasters to worldwide pandemic, the first half of 2020 has certainly turned the world and the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector on its head.

During these tumultuous times, several changes were introduced to the National Quality Framework (NQF) on January 1st, 2020. Several updates were released, and some regulations completely repealed. Understandably, however, many ECEC services have not yet had the opportunity to react to these changes.

Adding to the risk of not being across these changes, is that many ECEC services are using static and optional self-assessment and Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) tools that have not yet been updated. This includes the optional tools provided by ACECQA.

There has also been significant confusion, particularly in NSW, where ECEC services were asked to ‘opt-in’ to submitting the optional self-assessment tool instead of their QIP through the assessment and rating process. ECEC quality improvement experts, Penelope QIP, first raised these concerns in January and these were soon reiterated by the Australian Childcare Alliance (NSW) who advised their members not to opt into using the self-assessment tool.

Through these uncertain times, ECEC services must remain compliant with the NQF. Not only to maintain readiness for assessment and rating but, most importantly, to ensure that outcomes for children are continuously improved.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to adapt and innovate like never before. Many ECEC services have extended this approach to evaluating the systems and processes they use for driving and documenting continuous quality improvement.

Penelope QIP has released an innovative online solution that is growing in popularity. It not only allows Educators (and families) to collaboratively streamline their service’s approach to improving their assessment and rating outcomes but also continuously updates self-assessment tools on behalf of Penelope’s 2400 partner services. Services who innovate and adopt platforms like Penelope QIP are always aligned with the latest requirements of the NQF as it continues to evolve. Importantly, some parts of the NQF are only relevant to specific service types. The self-assessment program dynamically adjusts to best fit the nature and needs of each service and their children.

The Penelope team is committed to keeping up with changes within the sector for the benefit of their partner services. The self-assessment tool features a checklist of resources that services can access to better assist in their assessment process, as well as a checklist of key stakeholders who can collaborate in the process and how to best include them. The self-assessment tool simplifies the observe, discuss and show requirements from within the NQF and prompts services to critically reflect on their performance, their statement of philosophy, and the exceeding themes within the NQS. The platform also provides a manageable approach to ongoing self-assessment through a digital calendar that splits up self-assessment into manageable tasks across the year, notifying people linked with the quality program when they need to take action.

Perhaps the key feature of Penelope QIP is that it is the only platform that allows strengths and opportunities for improvements to be seamlessly ‘pushed’ into a living, breathing QIP in the format required by Regulators for assessment and rating.

To find out more or start your 14-day trial, contact the Penelope team at admin@penelope.com.au or on 1300 435 962