How not to fail the NQS
NQS Best Practices: Childcare 2020
The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a high national benchmark for childcare services in Australia. According to the 2020 Childcare Report, the percentage of services meeting NQS increased by 4% since the year prior, pointing towards improvements and growing competition in the sector. When considering the fact that services exceeding the NQS are able to charge 7% higher fees than other centres, the importance of the NQS becomes abundantly clear.
“89% of services with high occupancy were meeting NQS, making $313,000 more revenue, and $71,000 more profit than the average national figures.”National survey for The Early Years Insights – Sept 2019
Despite this, however, 20% of the services surveyed in the 2020 Childcare Report failed to meet the NQS. These services experienced a 20% variance in occupancy compared to services that were meeting the standards (81% vs 67%), and a 7% variance in daily rates ($109 vs $105).
When it comes to applying the NQS in childcare, the worst performing areas were found to be Governance and Leadership (with only 14% of centres meeting this benchmark) and Educational Program and Practice (with 15% performing well in this area).
So how can you apply the NQS in your day-to-day operations?
1. Implementing better Governance and Leadership practices
Governance and Leadership is Quality Area 7 of the NQS, and refers to the leadership and management needed to create a quality environment for children. Documentation and reflection are key aspects of functioning better as a learning community. Some ways to improve Governance and Leadership at your centre include:
- Offering more intimate care arrangements
- Providing longer operating hours
- Putting systems in place to manage risk
- Conducting self-assessment and putting a quality improvement process in place
- Conducting regular performance assessments of educators and staff members
- Supporting and providing professional development opportunities to staff (staff development days, developmental workshops, eLearning courses, first aid courses, and so forth)
- Clearly defining roles and responsibilities
- Upholding a positive organisational culture
2. Implementing better Educational Program and Practice operations
Educational Program and Practice is Quality Area 1 of the NQS, and refers to creating a stimulating and engaging educational program and practice. This program should stimulate and enhance children’s learning and development, nurture the development of life skills, and complement children’s experiences at school, at home and in the community. To do this, childcare providers should:
- Use each child’s strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests to inform the program
- Organise the program in ways that maximise learning opportunities for children
- Respond to children’s ideas and extending learning through questions, interactions and feedback
- Assess each child’s learning and development through ongoing observation, documentation and reflection
- Inform families about the program and their child’s progress
Other NQS drivers that the report identified as beneficial across the board include providing better nutrition and food choices, value-added services, offering greater flexibility to busy parents, mixing ages and reducing fees.
TO LEARN MORE about implementing best practices as well as automating the recording of data needed to give you the best chance of Exceeding the NQS, reach out to Xplor.