Using service philosophy to guide effective leadership and governance: ACECQA tips
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Using service philosophy to guide effective leadership and governance: ACECQA tips

Using service philosophy to guide effective leadership and governance: ACECQA tips

by Freya Lucas

September 05, 2022

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has issued some guidance about the importance and value of a service’s philosophy as a guiding document for quality leadership and governance.


In order to fully implement the elements of effective governance and leadership, as outlined in Quality Area 7 (QA 7) of the National Quality Standard (NQS), a service needs a written statement of philosophy which clearly outlines the purpose, vision and principles your service is operating under.


The philosophy, ACECQA said, sits alongside a positive organisational culture, the development of professionals, effective self-assessment and a sound quality improvement process to round out QA 7.


Together with the Approved Learning Frameworks (Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place), the philosophy assists educators in considering the service’s approach to learning, relationships, wellbeing, and leadership.


Ideally, ACECQA said, the philosophy is a ‘living document’ reflecting the current beliefs and values of the service’s team, families and children, as well as changing circumstances or new ideas.


It should also reflect the National Quality Framework, underpin policies and procedures and be actively used to guide every aspect of service operations and practices.


Effective leadership is guided by a written statement of philosophy outlining the purpose, vision and principles the service operates under and how leadership is enacted.


The Quality Improvement Research Project (ACECQA 2019, p. 4) investigated the characteristics and processes of quality improvement in services, noting:


“Service leaders play a critical role in supporting and sustaining quality improvement, including leading the service philosophy and working with the Approved Provider to create and maintain a positive and supportive workplace.”


It was found that a service’s philosophy was a critical document for driving the program. In services that improved to Exceeding the NQS, philosophy statements were detailed, involved all stakeholders and demonstrated systematic approaches to the revision of the philosophy.


Why is it important to review the statement of philosophy?


Regular reviews of the statement of philosophy ensures that it meets the needs of the service, its educators and leaders, and the key stakeholders who often change, including children, families and the wider community.


A review provides the opportunity to stop, reflect, and rethink ‘what we do and why we do it’.

It also allows the service to consider new developments and opportunities, such as:


  • new research to inform practice
  • changes to legislation
  • professional development opportunities
  • changes to policies and procedures
  • changes in community needs and priorities
  • conversations between educators, children and families.


Who should be involved?


Everyone involved in the service should have a voice in the development and review of its statement of philosophy.


When the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators contribute to a review of the statement of philosophy, they gain a better understanding of how it underpins everyday practices and decision-making. Their involvement also creates ownership and encourages commitment and willingness to put your service philosophy into practice.


Encouraging families, children, educators and key community stakeholders to be meaningfully involved may also be used to demonstrate how Quality Area 6 (Collaborative partnerships with families and communities) is met.


Inviting children to be involved and incorporating their views shows their ideas are respected and valued, further developing their sense of agency and aligning with Quality Area 1 (Educational program and practice).


How to revise the service’s statement of philosophy


ACECQA encouraged providers to consider including these steps:


  1. Critically reflect on the existing statement of philosophy. Is it still relevant?
  2. Identify and document the values and beliefs of everyone involved in the service: children, families, educators, staff, management and relevant community representatives.
  3. If relevant, consider the vision of the larger organisation the service is a part of.
  4. Develop a shared vision and reflect on how it might be achieved.
  5. Decide what the service philosophy statement should say and how it should look.
  6. Draft a service statement of philosophy and seek more input and feedback from everyone involved in the service.
  7. Set timeframes for the next review of the service philosophy.
  8. Display the service statement of philosophy at the service.


Guidance questions for reflections and discussions:


Why (philosophy)

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Who is it benefitting?
  • Why is it important?


How (practice)

  • How does your service philosophy shape and guide your service’s operations?
  • What practices are embedded in your service to promote its values and beliefs?
  • How do you involve children in the process of reviewing your service philosophy?


What (principles)

  • What is achieved?
  • What are the outcomes for children, families, educators and the community?


Key principles and outcomes to consider:


  • The rights and best interests of the child underpin all practice.
  • Children’s safety, health and wellbeing are paramount. Each child is respected without discrimination or bias and has a voice.
  • Children are viewed as successful, competent and capable learners who are given opportunities to construct their own understandings, contribute to the learning of others and participate in decisions that affect them.


  • Equity, inclusion and diversity are embedded in practice. Children are given every opportunity to succeed and their diverse circumstances, cultural background and abilities are respected and valued.
  • Collaborative partnerships in the community are developed and maintained.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are acknowledged, respected and valued. The child in the context of their family is valued. Trusting, supportive relationships and collaborative partnerships are developed and maintained with families.


  • Management, team members and educators are professional, skilled, knowledgeable, reflective, collaborative, and are dedicated to quality outcomes for children.
  • Continuous improvement, best practice and quality outcomes underpin practice. Current research, theories and understandings are considered and applied in the context of the uniqueness of the service through a process of ongoing critical reflection.
  • Children are supported to become environmentally responsible which is embedded in practice, programs and policies.


Services may also wish to refer to:



Visit the ACECQA website for:



Quality Support Program


In NSW, the Quality Support Program Dual Program Pathways is a professional learning partnership between ACECQA and the NSW Department of Education to support the ongoing quality improvement of eligible ECEC services in NSW rated as Working Towards National Quality Standard (NQS) and/or with identified compliance support needs.


There is now a new tailored support program that is available for State Regulated Services (SRS) who are now aligned with the National Quality Framework (NQF).


Find more information, visit the ACECQA website

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