Maintaining quality in times of change

From natural disasters to worldwide pandemic, 2020 has turned the world, and the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector, upside down.

Further to these challenges, on 1 January several changes were introduced to the National Quality Framework (NQF), with updates released and some regulations completely repealed. Understandably, however, many ECEC services have not yet had the opportunity to adapt to these changes.

Adding to the risk of non-compliance with the NQF is the fact that many ECEC services are using optional self-assessment and Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) tools that are yet to be updated, including those provided by the 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 they were soon echoed by the Australian Childcare Alliance (NSW) who advised their members against opting in to using the self-assessment tool.

Throughout these uncertain times, ECEC services must remain compliant with the NQF to maintain readiness for assessment and rating and, most importantly, to ensure that outcomes for children are continuously improved.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to adapt and innovate as 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 is 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 2600+ partner services. Services who innovate and adopt platforms like Penelope QIP are always aligned with the latest requirements of the NQF, as the Penelope team is committed to keeping up with changes across the sector for the benefit of their partner services. Additionally, some parts of the NQF are only relevant to specific service types – the Penelope program dynamically adjusts to best fit the nature and needs of each service and their children.

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. It also simplifies the observe, discuss, and show requirements of the NQF and prompts services to critically reflect on their performance, their statement of philosophy, and the exceeding themes within the NQS. Furthermore, the platform provides a manageable approach to ongoing self-assessment through a digital calendar that splits 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 or on 1300 435 962