Starting from scratch: scrapping the QIP on the path to exceeding NQS
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.
Spensley Street outside school hours care (OSHC) co-ordinator Lisa Heard describes deleting the quality improvement plan (QIP) for her service as “the best thing” she ever did, and an integral part of supporting her service to move from a rating of “working towards” to “exceeding” the National Quality Standards (NQS).
In this article, adapted from a piece which originally appeared in Community Child Care Association (CCCA) publication Roundtable, we learn more about the journey from working towards to exceeding, and about the thinking behind scrapping the existing QIP and refining the focus of the service.
June 2016 is the month Lisa decided on a new direction for her service. Having attended a CCCA workshop on “Maintaining your QIP”, Lisa returned to her service to evaluate the existing QIP, finding that it was “out of control”.
“It had been evolving since 2012 with every standard and every element written about and progress notes recorded against each element. I would look at it and question its usefulness within our service,” Lisa said.
She decided instead to concentrate on areas where the educators, parents and families were invested in seeing serious improvement, and record only those areas in the QIP.
The process of starting from scratch – scrapping the existing QIP and writing a new one – involved identifying four elements of process and practice within the service and finding the match between these areas for improvement and the seven NQS quality areas.
“By choosing only a small number of things to work on improving, we could pursue the change we were after more effectively,” Lisa said.
One area of focus for the service was increasing healthy eating components of the daily menu offering. After eight months of recording progress notes, and showing an improvement in this domain, the task was marked as complete, and dated in progress notes, moving the action taken to the strengths section of the QIP.
“You can follow the progress and see a final outcome, showing an improvement. [Recording things in this way] allowed us to display our progress on the wall in our service for all to see,” Lisa added.
The journey from ‘Working Towards’ to ‘Exceeding’
The process of moving from ‘Working Towards’ to ‘Exceeding’ the NQS was helped, Lisa said, by the two years of “extra experience” between the first assessment and rating visit and the reassessment visit.
“We were able to create a presentation for the assessor that covered all the standards and elements. We also demonstrated a cohesive, settled working environment for the staff, and this is evident to all outsiders who visit our service.”
Highlighting the value of authenticity and respectful, reciprocal relationships within the service, Lisa was quick to point out that “the relationships between children and staff cannot be manufactured.”
The role of a prepared environment was also a focus of the change in rating, with Lisa emphasising that “The environment our service operates out of is a mix of a natural treed play space, indoor and outdoor physical activity areas and a dedicated OSHC room, always set up and ready for morning and after care.”
When asked what advice she would give to other OSHC services seeking to improve their quality rating, Lisa offered the following tips:
- Pay attention to what is being written in relevant sector publications
- Attend professional development sessions
- Network with other early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals.
For services who are struggling with managing their QIP, Lisa offers the following advice:
- Rethink the way you use your QIP; what is its purpose? Who is it for?
- Look for professional development around QIP
- Speak with others who are also struggling with their QIP
- Simplify your QIP and make it work for your service
- Keep the key improvements succinct and deliverable
- Complete one or two improvements a year and move them to your strengths.
Further information about Spensley Street OSHC can be found here. Information about CCCA can be found on their website, with a range of articles from the Roundtable publication available for review here.
This article has been adapted from an interview published in the Summer 2018 edition of Roundtable magazine, and has been adapted with author permission. The original article will be made available on the archive section of the CCCA website, and can be accessed here in future.