How to improve NQS ratings in Quality Area 1?

One way that centres can successfully compete for occupancy in the post-COVID environment is to maintain a high-quality service in line with national quality regulations. The National Quality Standard (NQS) rating of a service is a good indicator of the quality of care and education it imparts as well as its compliance with laws and regulations. 

Administered by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), NQS works like an external assessor and lays out requirements such as approved learning frameworks and educator-to-child ratio qualifiers. Based on seven core quality areas, these qualitative ratings allow parents to compare services in an area and guide service owners in achieving key outcomes for children in care. High NQS ratings create an ecosystem of success for services by generating more revenue through higher occupancy and maintaining a reputation for quality.

Services that failed to meet the NQS had a reported ADR of $97 compared to the national average of $103 and a difference of $121K in revenue. 
– Early Years Research 2020

Fulfilling Quality Area 1: Education Program and Practice 

Standard 1.1 under the first QA of the NQS focuses on maximising a child’s learning journey by providing an environment that supports their interests and strengths. It requires services to adopt an approved learning framework and develop a child-centred curriculum that promotes children’s wellbeing as effective communicators and learners.

One of the recommended curricula is the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) for children under 5 in centre-based care and My time our place for school-age care in Australia. Both frameworks are governed by five key learning outcomes that must guide educators in preparing child-based learning plans.

The five primary learning outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework, Source: ACECQA

Standard 1.2 explains how child-directed learning can be put to practice by creating intentional teaching plans that are responsive to children’s ideas and unique to their experiences. Purposeful planning is recommended weekly or fortnightly to reflect each child’s progress and knowledge and should include visual observations for better insights. 

One way to do this is to ensure that each child’s portfolio is maintained in a planning tool and referenced when creating weekly plans. By keeping children at the centre of the learning process, educators will maximise opportunities for children and fulfil NQS standards.

An example of a child’s portfolio that can be maintained in a P&P software. 

To successfully implement child-centred programs, standard 1.3 points to the need for assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes against objectives of relevant learning frameworks. Educators must critically reflect on learning plans that were carried out during the week and use this assessment to modify learning activities for the following week if needed.

Sharing child progress with families 

Information sharing needs to be more engaging and interactive than ever before, and centres must do the same when sharing child updates with parents. Creating a daily synopsis video where children are recapping their day can help parents reflect and provide feedback to educators. Child-led communication of this sort can help your centre appear more thoughtful and engaging than others in your area. It is possible to use educator apps and parent engagement software that automates all such updates.  

How software can help achieve high NQS

Early learning and care centres may be doing their best to impart high-quality care and education to children who are at the heart of the childcare system. However, to achieve a high NQS rating, it is essential to follow best practices and document and present all centre activities to external assessors who can then pass a rating. 

The average number of Exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS) services was also 13% higher for those that utilised software. – Early Years Research 2020
– Early Years Research 2020

While it may be necessary, frequent and regular documentation of child activities can be burdensome for educators. Not only does this mean more paperwork for staff, but if left undone, it leads to parents feeling disconnected from their child’s progress. 

The use of software can help solve problems of manual work for childcare staff. Among early learning solutions, Child Care Subsidy (CCS) platforms are used by many to automate administrative tasks and support subsidy management. Additionally, other tools and apps are available to take care of the rest of the childcare tasks, such as preparing child-centred learning programs, tracking health & safety, storing NQS documentation, and developing Quality Improvement Plans (QIP). 

Improve NQS Ratings

Need to improve NQS rating for your service? Find out how Programming and Planning Software can help.  

These include Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Platforms Programming and Planning (P&P) tools, Parent Engagement Software (PES) and Childcare Marketplaces. 

Here are a few ways early learning software can help your centre grow faster and more efficiently:

  1. High NQS ratings

At the time of assessment, detailed records of educators’ plans and activities prove that a service goes above and beyond to meet national standards. Early learning solutions help centres store large amounts of data and present information in innovative ways to achieve their goals.  

  1. Parent engagement 

Moreover, sharing this information with parents regularly helps centres build positive relationships and collaborations with communities, setting your service apart from the competition. This can be done through parent engagement apps that provide parents with real-time updates on their child’s learning, sleeping, eating or resting habits in the care centre. 

  1. Child learning opportunities 

Creating a planned approach to teaching and care will help your educators promote child learning and development by using individual records to plan ahead. These can be maintained in the P&P software, with photos and videos of child observations that act as evidence for NQS assessors. 

  1. Safe data storage

Cloud-based platforms make it easy to store and track individual and group learning, providing easy access to a child’s individual records to all authorised individuals. The same information can be used to match and fulfil multiple NQS standards and can be shared with parents instantaneously.

In contrast to common misconceptions about the use of software, early learning solutions can be incredibly easy to adopt, especially as data is stored and accessed electronically. Educators can use records to create ongoing planning cycles, fulfil learning outcomes for each child, and prepare for the NQS without getting burned out by manual work. 

Click below if you’d like to arrange discussion with one of our consultants about how we might help improve your NQS ratings.