What to expect during childcare assessment and rating
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > We got our A&R notice this week. What can I expect as an educator?

We got our A&R notice this week. What can I expect as an educator?

by Freya Lucas

August 24, 2023

An assessment and rating (A&R) notification can be an exciting time for an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service, but uncertainty around the process can make some educators, particularly those who have not been through A&R before, feel nervous. 


In the piece below, adapted from a piece in the current edition of the Community Child Care Association’s (CCCC) Roundtable magazine, consultant Bryony Catlin outlines what to expect. 


Understanding the outcome


Education and care services are assessed and rated by their state and territory regulatory authority (RA). In some states, this is the Department of Education, while in others it is a separate body. 


Services are assessed against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS) and are given an NQS rating in each area, as well as an overall rating based on their results in all seven categories. 


Services can be rated as needing significant improvement, working towards the NQS, meeting the NQS, exceeding the NQS, or as Excellent. 


A service which needs significant improvement is one which does not meet one of the seven quality areas, or meet a section of legislation to such a degree that there is a significant risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children, and the RA will take immediate action. 


At the other end of the spectrum, Excellent rated services are those who rate as Exceeding in all seven quality areas, who are committed to continuous improvement, demonstrate sector leadership, and promote exceptional education and care. 


The Excellent rating is something services must apply for, and is awarded by ACECQA, the national governing body for RAs across the country. 


Once awarded  quality ratings are published on the national registers and StartingBlocks.gov.au 


Understanding the steps in the A&R process


Services should be ready for an A&R visit at any time, maintaining a quality improvement plan (QIP) and undertaking self assessment against the NQS and regulatory requirements. 


Before an A&R visit, the RA will give the approved provider written notice that the A&R process has commenced, advising them of possible dates of attendance, and seeking any additional information required. 


The QIP is then submitted to the regulatory authority prior to the visit, along with any additional information requested.


An A&R visit will take place, and then some weeks after the visit the approved provider will be given a draft assessment and rating report. The provider can give feedback on any factual inaccuracies in the report and evidence to support feedback.


Feedback is then considered by the RA before the final report is issued. The approved provider may choose to apply for a review of final ratings within the set review period.


Once the review period has ended, the final ratings are published on the national registers.


On the day


During the A&R visit, an authorised officer (AO) will use the ‘sight, observe and discuss’ technique to gather information about the service and the practice taking place. This technique involves:


  • Sight – the AO will request to see records and documentation (e.g., medical plans and programming)


  • Observe – the AO will observe what educators and children are doing (e.g., interactions and routines)


  • Discuss – the AO will ask about the what, why and how behind practice (e.g., your orientation processes).


“As an educator, you can expect the AO will want to observe aspects of your program such as mealtimes, transitions, sleep routines and interactions with children,” Bryony explained. 


“It’s also likely the AO will ask you questions about children’s health and safety, and child protection obligations. They will request to sight your educational program and some planning for individual children.”


To learn more about the A&R process, please see here. Access to Roundtable magazine is a membership perk for CCCC members. To learn more about CCCC membership please see here. 

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