Critical reflection and supervision are core aspects of NQS success
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Critical reflection and supervision are core aspects of NQS success

by Freya Lucas

November 09, 2022

The New South Wales Department of Education has reminded early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers and staff of the crucial importance of being compliant with all regulatory requirements and of meeting the benchmarks of the National Quality Standard for both supervision and critical reflection on children’s learning and development to ensure learning is considered and children are safe, healthy and protected from risks and harm.


Across all approved services in NSW, Element 1.3.2: Critical Reflection on children’s learning and development and Element 2.2.1: Supervision are some of the lowest performing elements in assessment and rating visits. 


The Department has said that In addressing any barriers to success in these elements, services should be informed by guidance and resources from recognised authorities such as ACECQA and the NSW Department of Education.


Key tips to improve critical reflection


  • Ensure critical reflection on children’s learning and development is meaningful and an ongoing process to support children’s current learning and enhance the creation of developmental goals.


  • Utilise the Approved Learning Frameworks to support a lively culture of professional enquiry and enhance investigation into children’s learning and development.


  • Have the team create a universal critical reflection document that can be accessed by all educators to allow for a team approach to critical reflection on children’s learning and development, such as a ‘share’ doc or a critical reflection diary/journal.


  • Add a standing agenda item in team meetings where critical reflection on children’s learning and development is unpacked and have the discussion record within the meeting minutes for further reflection at a later date.


  • Make available current research, guiding documentation and information from recognised organisations to enhance educator’s understanding of children’s learning and development.


Exploring adequate supervision


Many services assessed by the Department are challenged when it comes to defining adequate supervision. 


To support, the Department has provided the following guidance on what adequate supervision means. 


When children are adequately supervised: 


  • an educator can respond immediately, particularly when a child is distressed or in a hazardous situation; and, 
  • an educator or educators know where children are at all times, monitoring their activities actively and diligently.


“Regulatory officers have identified recent examples of practice that do not align with the regulatory requirements of adequate supervision and Red Nose safe sleeping guidelines,” a statement from the Department read.


Services’ safe sleeping policies, procedures and practices should be informed by advice from recognised authorities such as Red Nose, ACECQA and the NSW Department of Education, including the Safe Sleep and Rest Regulatory Guidance Note.


Services must ensure adequate supervision of sleeping infants, including during educator meal break times. Services should also have supervision and clear daily processes during mealtimes to proactively manage risks related to food allergies and anaphylaxis.


As advised by Kathryn Mulligan from the NSW Anaphylaxis Education Program, this may include:


  • implementing a traffic light system for mealtimes using red, orange and green plates to organise meals for different children
  • having two educators checking meals before they are given to children
  • introducing progressive meals to minimise chaos at mealtimes by allowing for a higher educator to child ratio
  • implementing a hand washing routine before and after eating and ensuring there is no swapping of cutlery or drink bottles to avoid indirect contamination with food allergens.


Key tips to improve supervision


The Department of Education NSW recommends that services follow the tips listed below to improve supervision practices: 


  • Conduct a risk assessment of environments and routine times to improve practice
  • Consider when documenting and collecting information using technology how this can be a barrier to effective supervision
  • Reflect on ways to include children in assessing risk to improve supervision


  • Reflect on previous large groups activities and how effective supervision can be impacted – explore opportunities for small group play or flexible routines where children can enjoy time in small groups with educators
  • Adopt a proactive response to continually assessing risk and positioning of educators to mitigate risk
  • Look at decluttering environments to improve supervision


  • Keep supervision windows clear and free from clutter including blinds and curtains where possible
  • Make sleep spaces clutter free and have lighting to enable adequate supervision
  • During recruitment, ask questions about how the educator will ensure adequate supervision


  • During orientation, provide educators detailed information about your expectations of adequate supervision
  • Develop a procedure to check that supervision is adequate at the service across the day
  • Provide times for educators to rest and cover this time with staff to meet the ratio and uphold adequate supervision. Slow down routines.


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