The NQF (National Quality Framework) introduced a new quality standard in 2012 to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours care services.
The NQF includes:
• National Law and National Regulations
• National Quality Standard
• Assessment and quality rating process
• National learning frameworks.
Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn. Quality education and care shapes every child’s future and lays the foundation for development and learning.
Since 1994, we have been strongly inspired by the Reggio Approach.We have never called ourselves a Reggio Emilia school because that is a school that belongs in Reggio Emilia but Reggio Emilia’s challenge to us came about in two forms. One is a gift and by that I am referring to our increased understanding of the rights and abilities of children, the richness of multiple points of view and the potential of taking action on behalf of our children. The second was a tremendous responsibility once we admitted to what we had seen and understood. We could no longer go back to the idea of the teacher as the transmitter of all knowledge, nor the idea of children working in isolation, but rather as collaborative members of a group. We understood that children express themselves in many ways not only through the language of speech and that the teachers are not the ones asking the questions to which they usually already know the answer.
We have also been strongly influenced in our thinking by the Cultures of Thinking research project, a collaboration between Bialik College and Harvard University. This meant that teachers, teaching children of all ages, were able to connect together based on children’s thinking not on the discipline nor on the age of the children. It came about as a direct response and a complete fit to the children leaving the ELC and entering the primary school at year 2.
The implementation of the Victorian Early Years Learning Framework came after many years of change for us. The building of respectful, reciprocal relationships with each other, with our families, with our children and other professionals is something that is lived every day. Our image of our children means that we have high expectations in their abilities but understand diversity and welcome difference. The Framework has enhanced and enriched our learning together as a staff as we discuss and debate issues. We have worked hard to be open to listening to others and this has resulted in a welcoming ‘open door’ policy towards families and educators from Bialik and beyond with many people coming to visit and to learn from us. We value this reciprocity as we learn much from others’ questions and wonderings, which helps to deepen our thinking and learning.
Our responsibility concerns the quality of education we offer to our children and our families, the quality of our resources and in particular the richness of our approach. We continue to ask hard and deep questions while trying to build answers, challenge our assumptions and evolve in our thinking and actions. Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Approach and one of the great pedagogical figures of the 20th century, spoke often of the role of the teacher. He encouraged teachers to embrace their responsibility and often concluded by saying, “the teacher’s task is to preserve, as far as possible, the naturalness of the children’s creative and practical processes, in the conviction that children have the necessary resources for going much further than we might think.” Malaguzzi, 1995.
Education and care services are assessed and rated by their state and territory regulatory authority. In Victoria services are rated by a regulatory body, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).
Services are assessed against the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard.
These are: Educational program and practice; Children’s health and safety; Physical environment; Staffing arrangements; Relationships with children; Collaborative partnerships with families and communities and Leadership and Governance.
We are in the middle of our assessment and rating process. This is a very important process for us as it recognises what we do well and what we need to do to improve our practice further.
The Bialik School values of Responsibility, Integrity, Perseverance, Empathy and Respect are the values that we always strive to embody. Success for us means, that each one of our educators has a deep understanding of children and how they learn and that they are able to articulate our beliefs, our understandings of our children’s thinking and the approaches to pedagogy that we have developed.
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