With the revised National Quality Standard coming into effect on February 1st, one of the biggest changes is that there is a lot more attention on evidence being able to be collected via discussions. Previously the Guide to the National Quality Standard had a few points in each element on what assessors may discuss, this has now increased and places a stronger emphasis on all levels of the team being able to respond, avoiding the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” response. Below are some tips on how to support educators in preparing for these discussions and feeling confident during the assessment process.
- Provide a rationale: When we are busy and asking people to do things we may not always explain why. We know why (hopefully) but does the person being asked to do the task know why they are doing it? If we take a few extra seconds to add an explanation of why we asked for that to be done, then it helps everyone be aware of the reasons behind certain tasks or practices in the service. An example of this is instead of saying “can you please take the drinks trolley outside?” you could say “can you please take the drinks trolley outside so children still have access to their drink bottles while we play outside, in case they get thirsty?”. The more this is part of the everyday communication style, the more everyone has the opportunity to be aware of the rationales and therefore can explain them to an assessor.
- Allow space for others to fill: Another common problem is that we are usually quick to answer questions with our own ideas and words, instead of letting others formulate their own responses. By asking others to provide their own ideas on why basic tasks happen it can help them to develop skills in thinking about practices and draw on their own training and knowledge to justify why things may be done a certain way. For example when asking someone to bring the drinks trolley outside you could as them why they think you asked, or if someone asks why we bring the drinks trolley out you could turn it back around and say “why do you think?”. The less we rely on others to answer our questions for us, the more confident we become in the knowledge that we posses.
- Quiz your educators on their practices: Get educators used to explaining why they are doing certain things, and link it back to requirements and compliance, by making it a regular part of the day. If educators are used to questions on why they planned a certain experience, how they support ill children, how they engage with families or why they chose certain resources, then it will not be daunting if an assessor asks. There are lots of examples in the new Guide to the National Quality Framework on what may be discussed and these can be used as prompts, allowing questioning and thinking about practices to be commonplace.
- Ensure collaborative reflection is occurring: It is one thing to reflect on how the day went, and what experiences should be put out for which children, but it is another thing entirely to reflect on how the philosophy drives service decisions or how children’s rights are met throughout the service. By collaboratively reflecting in rooms, as a service, as a scheme or through networking with other educators, it is a great opportunity to learn from each other and develop deeper understandings along with clearer responses. Again, the revised Guide to the NQF has some excellent reflective questions at the start of each Standard that can be used as prompts.
- Create visual prompts: In addition to the ways above, a simple technique to ensure correct responses are given to questions regarding compliance is through signs reminding educators what their duties are. An example might be in response to child protection “As a mandatory reporter I would…” to help educators have this language become second nature so when they are stressed the subconscious mind can take over and just recall those key phrases and words. This is not to say that ALL responses should be parroted by all educators the same, but it allows for key compliance points to be remembered.
Using the above techniques will not only help get your service ready for Assessment and Ratings, it will also help with a number of compliance areas such as critical reflection and collaborative discussions. In addition you will also be able to identify areas for the professional development plans and goals for educators and the service. All of this will aid with your service’s implementation of best practice and increase the outcomes for the children.
If you have not already seen, RARE has a checklist for the documents assessors may wish to sight under the revised NQS and tips on how to achieve these, as another means of helping you prepare and ensure compliance. It can be purchased from http://www.rare.support/store#!/Revised-NQS-Preparation-Checklist/p/98683356
If you want specific help with anything to prepare you for the changes, from changing over documents to coaching and mentoring staff, a mock assessment visit to workshops or webinars, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Contact information is on the website.
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