Continuous improvement pays off for Seaton Community Children’s Centre
Seaton Community Childrens Centre recently spoke with South Australia’s Regulatory Authority, the Education Standards Board (ESB) about its journey of continuous improvement, reflecting on moving from being rated as Working Towards the National Quality Standard (NQS) in 2019 to Meeting in 2021.
Documentation a core element of success
Director Carrie Johnson explained that the team has worked hard to refine how they document children’s learning and experiences, reflecting the struggles of many services in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector who struggle with meeting Quality Area One.
“Our documentation had gaps in it,” she said. “There were also questions about the quality of the documentation”.
To overcome the challenges, Ms Johnson took charge of the planning by providing educators with a format that supported the cycle of planning. During the educators’ regular planning time they utilised the format to document the children’s learning, which also highlighted their knowledge of the children.
Every child has their own portfolio, and this has evidence of learning added to it frequently. When children are away due to illness or other absence this is recorded to ensure there is an explanation of why documentation is not available and ensures the amount of documentation is reflective of their time in attendance.
Educational Leader support
The service appointed the early childhood teacher as their educational leader to oversee the educational program.
In their capacity as educational leader the teacher goes through everyone’s folders and “checks if there are any gaps,” and provides written feedback to educators, Ms Johnson explained. This process has encouraged professional conversations which has led to greater reflection and improvements.
Prioritising professional learning
The service engaged in regular professional learning with Gowrie SA to provide opportunities for deeper critical reflection.
“Having their team fill the role of critical friend supported us to think outside the box and challenge current practices,” Ms Johnson explained.
Relationship based care and learning
One point of pride for the service is the use of a primary care giving approach, which supports the relationship based care it provides.
For Ms Johnson, it comes down to a simple notion – “all children are seen at this service.”
Seaton has very low staff turnover when compared with other services in the region, and have made a considered choice to not use agency staff, striving instead to have consistent casual educators working in the same rooms. This is to focus on the continuity of care and provide the opportunity for children and educators to create relationships, Ms Johnson said.
Flexibility is key
Seaton Community Children’s Centre strives to offer a flexible service to meet the needs of its community, this includes providing half-day places for children over two.
As well as being flexible with enrolment, Ms Johnson noted the educator’s genuine view of seeing children as capable and competent and giving children a sense of agency and advocacy contributed to the service’s relationship based practices.
“We encourage children to advocate for their interests. And a flexible routine also allows children of any age to rest in a sleeping hub we’ve created, to support children to develop their awareness of their needs,” she added.
While Seaton Community Childrens Centre is thrilled with the new rating, Ms Johnson said they view continuous improvement seriously, taking on the feedback of the authorised officer, and continuing to think of ways to improve.
For those services preparing for assessment and rating, the ESB recommends the following:
- Self-assessment tool for centre-based care, Education Standards Board
- Self-assessment tool for family day care, Education Standards Board
- Self-assessment tool and QIP template, ACECQA
To learn more about Seaton Community Children’s Centre, see here.