During the NSW Department of Education's Roadshows in October 2019, they announced the introduction of the use of ACECQA's Self-Assessment Tool as an alternative to the use of services' Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) for submission at their upcoming Assessment and Ratings.
To the credit of the interim leadership of the NSW Department of Education's Early Childhood Education and Care Directorate, ACA NSW since late November 2019 has seen what appears to be genuine and positive intentions to significantly improve a range of negative experiences for services, especially assessment and rating. That said, the interim leadership has inherited past decisions that will take time to address, fix and resolve for the better.
Hence, regrettably and until further notice, the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW is recommending to its members that they DO NOT opt-in to use the Self-Assessment Tool. Instead, ACA NSW recommends that services continue to submit their QIPs as part of their upcoming Assessment and Ratings.
ACA NSW's concerns are as follows:
- ACECQA's (optional) Self-Assessment Tool was never designed to be a replacement of the QIPs.
- There have been instances of NSW assessors who were either not aware of the use of the Self-Assessment Tool nor how it is to be used as part of the assessment and rating.
- The NSW Department of Education's website portal to receive the information submitted by services via the Self-Assessment Tool has not been stable nor sufficiently user-friendly.
- Given the drastically different approaches of the Self-Assessment Tool to the QIPs, it will take a significant amount of initial time to convert the content of services' existing QIPs for input into the Self-Assessment Tool as an alternative submission. And such time would more than likely be far longer than the time between the notice of an upcoming assessment and rating and the due date of the submission.
- Notwithstanding assurances from the NSW Department of Education, will assessors still demand they sight or refer to services' QIPs for spotchecks and non-compliance visits because of Regulations 55 and 56?
ACA NSW will also be asking ACECQA:
- how it would be conducting Tier 2 reviews when the assessment and rating is relying on the Self-Assessment Tool's submission; and
- how the Self-Assessment Tool submission (and no longer the service's QIP) would be used for applications for Excellent ratings.
It also concerns ACA NSW that NSW will be the only jurisdiction that allows services to use the Self-Assessment Tool as a QIP. As such, will services be advantaged or disadvantaged by the use of the Self-Assessment Tool when services outside of NSW will continue to use their QIPs.
Since there are more questions than answers, ACA NSW has agreed with the NSW Department of Education that good outcomes do come from a foundation of co-design. As such, ACA NSW looks forward to working with the NSW Department of Education to co-design and co-test a system with direct sector input so as to achieve universal confidence and acceptance.
PUBLISHED: 4 FEBRUARY 2020