Top 10 Quality Improvement Plan tips to stand out from the crowd
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Top 10 Quality Improvement Plan tips to stand out from the crowd

by Freya Lucas

April 20, 2023

The aim of a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is to help providers self-assess their performance in delivering quality education and care, and to plan for future improvements.


Often, the Quality Improvement Plan is the first way that an authorised officer “meets” a service, and begins to make judgements about how a service may or may not be complying with the National Quality Standard


All QIPs include an assessment of the programs and practices at the service against the National Quality Standard and National Regulations, identify areas for improvement and include a statement about the service’s philosophy.


Beyond that, however, services are free to present their QIP and its inclusions in the way which they feel best supports the telling of their story. 


In the piece below, we share some hints and tips to support services to make the most of this valuable opportunity, and to ensure that the QIP is a document which is a display of the unique strengths and opportunities currently present, and of the goals for the future. 


Tell a story 


The most important consideration when developing or reviewing a QIP is that the document is your chance to tell a story. The story can be told with words, pictures, videos or a mixture of all of the above, but thinking about the QIP as “the story of us” can help services to capture all of the aspects of the things done each day, week, month and year to serve children and families. 


Rather than making a statement like “we are committed to making authentic connections with community” consider how to “tell this story”. 


Can you use photos of weekly community excursions? Embed a video of an intergenerational playgroup? Include testimonials from parents? Showcase children’s drawings of times when they have experienced local events? 


Be specific, and avoid the buzzwords


“A collegial learning environment with a confluence of contemporary theorists and established methodologies” in simple terms means “A place where modern learning and established practice comes together.” 


The difference between the two sentences is one describes the learning that takes place in a service with overly complex language, and the other sends a clear and simple message. 


Authorised officers are reading the QIP to get a sense of the service and the people within it. Avoid using language which is difficult to understand, or which isn’t clear about what it’s trying to convey. 


Also be aware that early childhood education and care (ECEC), like many other sectors and industries, experiences trends or ‘hot topics’. 

While it can be tempting to ‘do what everyone else is doing’ for fear of missing out, or being seen to be ‘behind the times’, be aware that including trending topics will date your QIP quickly. 


It’s an introduction, not an essay 


While it can be tempting to view the QIP as a space which captures the breadth and depth of your service, remember that it is, in essence, an introduction to your service, and a means of sharing the main things you’re working on. 


You don’t need to document each and every thing which happens in the service. Your authorised officer is coming to see your service, to meet those who work within it, and to observe practice. 

While they are there they will ask questions, and give you the opportunity to provide documentation and answers. The QIP is a tool to ‘set the scene’ and let them know what they might experience and observe while ‘on the ground’. 


Fill in the blanks


Rather than making a statement like “we are committed to sustainability,” take it a step further and explain how. 


For example: “We are committed to sustainability. Throughout our service you will see this play out in a number of ways including through the use of minimal electrical light, the capturing of unused drinking water at the end of meals, and through our composting program. For further context, review the sustainability policy here (and provide a link to it, if it is publically available).”


Photos, videos and other resources can be used to further support. 


Following the rules isn’t a strength


Some services may be tempted to showcase things which are regulatory requirements as strengths within their QIP. 


For example, Regulation 56 requires that the QIP be updated at least annually or as directed by the regulatory authority, so including “We update our QIP annually” as a strength is redundant it’s something all services HAVE to do to remain compliant it’s not something special or unique that your service does. 


Likewise, if you come across a regulatory breach in your own self assessment – for example not meeting Regulation 103 (Premises, furniture and equipment to be safe, clean and in good repair.) do not include this in your QIP as something you’re working on. Make a plan to immediately address the issue, and then move on. 


Be specific, and set SMART goals


Having a goal in the QIP such as “improve team culture” is laudable but what does that mean? How will you improve the culture? What needs improvement? How will you know when it’s improved? What tools will you use to measure progress? 


A more specific goal might be “Improve team culture within the next 12 months through weekly acknowledgements of good practice, and targeted professional development sessions with Department mentors. Progress to be measured by reduction in staff turnover and through quarterly staff satisfaction surveys.” 


This goal works because it is SMART Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. 


A little bit of everything all of the time 


There’s nothing to stop services from having goals against each of the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard, however there is no requirement that all 15 standards and 40 elements are addressed in the QIP, ACECQA has stated. 


Instead, the QIP should include the key areas for improvement. This might mean that you have a goal for each quality area, but you’re only actively working on some of the goals, some of the time. 


Maybe your service is focusing on improving the cycle of planning (Quality Area 1) and while exploring that, also working on building stronger relationships between the educational leader and the broader management team (Quality Area 4). 


Strong relationships from your Quality Area 4 goal might then lead the team to explore relationships with children, and a new goal may be set for Quality Area 5. 


Borrow from other professions


When developing the QIP, having an understanding of project management principles is really helpful.


For example, if your Quality Area 7 goal is around element 7.2.3 (educators, co-ordinators and staff members’ performance is regularly evaluated and individual plans are in place to support learning and development) it would be important to identify: 


  • What the current process for evaluation is 
  • Why it’s not working 
  • How it could be improved 
  • What resources are needed.


And then to break down the steps that need to be taken to meet the goal, allocate resources (human resources and physical resources) to meet the goal, set time frames and document the process. 


As with sharing the story, there are a number of ways to do this it might be a Gantt chart, a flow chart, a white board list, a Word document or any number of other methods. 


Include multiple voices


While many QIP creators will seek the input of those working in the service, it’s important to consider other voices also. 

What do the children think? What about families? The broader community? 


Gather the input of others through a variety of means such as a post it note display, putting pebbles in a jar, sending out a short survey, asking families and children to select from a set of images…the possibilities are endless. 


Over to the experts


Finally, consider this advice from ACECQA: 


  • It is not about the length of your plan, but rather the quality. 
  • Identify the key priorities for your service and ensure the strategies and goals are achievable. 
  • Consider identifying short, medium and longer term priorities. 
  • There is no minimum or maximum number of pages required when completing your QIP. 
  • If your service is doing particularly well in one quality area, you may choose to include statements about how this will be maintained and concentrate on other areas for improvement. 
  • The purpose of the QIP is to guide quality improvements to the service.


For more support when it comes to creating your QIP, please see here

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