Partial A&R: Ballina Byron FDC's experience
The Sector > Practice > Family Day Care > Ballina Byron FDC shares experiences of refreshed A&R process in NSW

Ballina Byron FDC shares experiences of refreshed A&R process in NSW

by Freya Lucas

May 01, 2024

Ballina Byron Family Day Care (FDC) was one of the many services in New South Wales who were ‘early adopters’ of recent improvements to the assessment and rating (A&R) process, undergoing a partial A&R in November 2023 to provide feedback on the process to the NSW Department of Education. 


In the piece below, drawn from a longer form piece published on the Department’s website, nominated supervisor Sharon Foran offers insights for other services on what to expect, how to prepare and tips on selecting a quality area for a partial reassessment.


“It was a little bit unnerving, because it was unknown to start with,” she said, when explaining how the service felt in the lead-up to their A&R visit.


“But the authorised officer really supported us through the change, had a great explanation about what the procedure was going to be like and how it was going to look like for us. So that left us feeling quite confident and like we knew what was going to be happening.”


Ballina Byron Family Day Care is built on a culture of reflection and embedded practice, which helped the team feel prepared and confident in their practice leading up to the visit.


The partial assessment focused on quality areas 2, 4, 5 and 6, as selected by the authorised officer, who drew on sector trends and insights about the service, including ratings from its last A&R. The service was notified about the selected quality areas the day before the visit, with the team choosing Quality Area 4 – Staffing arrangements to be assessed.


“One of our greatest strengths is that we embed that sense of belonging for educators,” Ms Foran said. “They feel valued in their roles, they’re respected, and it is a really collaborative team that runs Ballina Byron Family Day Care.”


“We talked about it previously with everyone from the committee, through to the coordination staff, as well as educators. Everybody agreed that if we have a choice, Quality Area 4 would be the one we would choose.”


Embedded practice left team prepared


Having a strong culture of reflection and embedded practice helped the coordination unit and educators feel well-prepared and confident in their practice in the lead-up to their A&R.


The team regularly reflects on their practices during meetings, educator evenings, training, as well as in newsletters sent to educators, families and committee members.


“Everybody’s on the same page,” Ms Foran explained. “Everyone understands the National Quality Standard and what the seven quality areas look like in practice in our service.”


The service’s self-assessment and quality improvement plan is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is up to date and reflects current practice, as well as areas for improvement. Families and committee members are given the opportunity to provide feedback, too.


This process also includes seeking support and feedback from the NSW Department of Education’s Continuous Improvement Team on articulating the service’s self-assessment information prior to the A&R visit.


“It was nice that we could tick that off and go, ‘okay, we’re on the right track, let’s keep moving forward with that’.”


The service is currently transitioning over to use the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. The team feels quite confident using the portal, and likes how it captures their service information and improvement planning notes in one place.


Overall Exceeding


At the conclusion of the A&R process the service was assessed as exceeding quality areas 2, 4 and 6, and given an overall quality rating of Exceeding.


Since the visit Ms Foran and her team have reflected on different elements of Quality Area 5 and what they can do differently or how to showcase their practice better next time. They’ve also undertaken quality improvement planning and are exploring professional development opportunities.


“Family day care is so unique, so it’s always been quite difficult to be able to coordinate the visit, and time spent at the office and educator homes,” she said.


“A partial assessment really suits. I just think the shorter time during the visit and having more of a focus on specific areas gives you the opportunity to showcase your practice and be proud of it.”


Advice for other services


Ms Foran offered the following insights for other services who are preparing for an A&R visit: 


  • Being well-prepared will help you have a more positive experience.
  • Treat your self-assessment working document as a live document, rather than a tool used only to prepare for A&R.
  • When nominating a quality area for your partial A&R, choose the one you’re most proud of and the one you feel you do best at. 
  • Reassure educators that A&R is a collaborative process – it doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders.


For more advice about the partial assessment process please see here. The original coverage of this story is available here.

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button