Exceeding Themes Explored: Embedded Practice
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Exceeding themes explored: Practice is embedded in service operations

by Freya Lucas

October 03, 2023

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) recently commenced a series of articles designed to support educators to understand and work towards Exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS). 


The piece below is an extract taken from the most recent publication which deals with the first Exceeding theme ’practice is embedded in service operations’. Access the original here


What does it mean to embed practice? 


At the Exceeding NQS level, ACECQA notes, when practice is ‘embedded’ it means the high-quality identified practice is the usual practice demonstrated by the service for the relevant Standard. 


Such practices occur consistently and intentionally as part of the ongoing processes of the service. They are understood and implemented by all educators at an appropriate level for their role and responsibilities. 


Embedded practice has a clear intent that reflects a deep understanding of the ‘why’ and ‘how’  behind it. 


Depending on the quality area and the high-quality practice itself, this may be evident in service routines, relationships, program and planning. It may also be evident in interactions between educators, service leadership structure, children, families and the community. 


Authorised officers observe, document, discuss and sight embedded practice, and can see that these practices have clear links with the service’s philosophy, the principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s, and the service’s policies and procedures that relate specifically to the standard. 


How do authorised officers determine ‘embedded’? 


Authorised officers use a variety of strategies to gather evidence for all service practices during a visit. They may be able to observe the high-quality practices in action and may also speak to the service team as well as the educational leader and nominated supervisor. 


This would determine if the high-quality practices are ongoing and are understood and implemented by all educators. Authorised officers may also seek documentary evidence reflective of the practice that has been identified and the specific service context. 


They will also refer to the questions in the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF)  to assist in determining if the specific practice(s) are truly embedded. 


Reflective questions to support embedded understanding

To further support the understanding of embedded practice at an Exceeding NQS level for each standard, ACECQA has put forward the following reflective questions for services to consider:


  • Are we demonstrating a practice that is above and beyond meeting this standard? 
  • Does this high-quality practice relate to the intent of the whole standard (the Guide to the National Quality Framework provides an overview of the intent and Exceeding guidance for each standard)  
  • Are all staff demonstrating this practice or is it a few key staff that implement this high-quality practice and can explain the why behind their practice? 
  • If key staff were to be absent or leave the service, would the high-quality practices continue? 
  • Do all staff understand the importance of the high-quality practice and how it supports the Standard? 
  • Are high-quality practices for this standard evident, where relevant, across various aspects of service operations? 
  • Can you ‘see’ it in practice through observations? 
  • Can educators and the leadership team articulate practices and their importance? 
  • Have you included the high-quality practice within any service documentation that supports educators to embed the high-quality practice?


For more information 


  • The Exceeding NQS webpage on the ACECQA website includes a series of case studies that offer practical and illustrative examples of what high-quality practice may look like for each standard in a variety of settings 


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