How does your service statement of philosophy guide effective leadership and governance
The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) explains the increasing importance and value of Quality Area 7, sharing advice on philosophy development and its impact on quality leadership and governance.
26 August 2022
The National Quality Framework
Our role at ACECQA is to work in partnership with all early childhood education and care services and providers as well as governments to improve quality outcomes for children and their families.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) aims to give children the best start in life through high quality early childhood education and care.
Quality Area 7 of the National Quality Standard outlines expectations relating to the effective governance and leadership of children’s education and care services, including a positive organisational culture, the development of professionals, effective self-assessment and a quality improvement process.
It also requires a written statement of philosophy outlining the purpose, vision and principles your service is operating under.
Element 7.1.1 Service philosophy and purpose
Natural disasters and the impacts of COVID-19 present additional challenges for people leading and managing children’s education and care services.
One refreshing way service leaders may consider guiding and supporting their teams through these challenging times is to spend some time revisiting and reflecting on your statement of philosophy, exploring the beliefs and values of your service.
Together with the Approved Learning Frameworks (Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place), it assists educators in considering the service’s approach to learning, relationships, wellbeing, and leadership.
Ideally, it is a ‘living document’ reflecting the current beliefs and values of your service’s team, families and children, as well as changing circumstances or new ideas.
It should also reflect the National Quality Framework, underpin policies and procedures and be actively used to guide every aspect of service operations and practices.
Effective leadership is guided by a written statement of philosophy outlining the purpose, vision and principles your service operates under and how leadership is enacted.
The Quality Improvement Research Project (ACECQA 2019, p. 4) investigated the characteristics and processes of quality improvement in services, noting:
‘Service leaders play a critical role in supporting and sustaining quality improvement, including leading the service philosophy and working with the Approved Provider to create and maintain a positive and supportive workplace.
It was found that the service’s philosophy was a critical document for driving the program. In services that improved to Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS), philosophy statements were detailed, involved all stakeholders and demonstrated systematic approaches to the revision of the philosophy’.
Why is it important to review your statement of philosophy?
Regular reviews of your statement of philosophy ensure that it meets the needs of your service, your educators and leaders, and your key stakeholders who often change, including children, families and the wider community.
A review provides the opportunity to stop, reflect, and rethink ‘what we do and why we do it’.
It also allows you to consider new developments and opportunities, such as:
- new research to inform practice
- changes to legislation
- professional development opportunities
- changes to policies and procedures
- changes in community needs and priorities
- conversations between educators, children and families.
Who should you involve?
Everyone involved in your service should have a voice in the development and review of your statement of philosophy.
When the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators contribute to a review of your statement of philosophy, they gain a better understanding of how it underpins everyday practices and decision-making. Their involvement also creates ownership and encourages commitment and willingness to put your service philosophy into practice.
Encouraging families, children, educators and key community stakeholders to be meaningfully involved may also be used to demonstrate how Quality Area 6 (Collaborative partnerships with families and communities) is met.
Inviting children to be involved and incorporating their views shows their ideas are respected and valued, further developing their sense of agency and aligning with Quality Area 1 (Educational program and practice).
How do you revise your service’s statement of philosophy?
Consider including these steps in your process:
- Critically reflect on your existing statement of philosophy. Is it still relevant?
- Identify and document the values and beliefs of everyone involved in your service: children, families, educators, staff, management and relevant community representatives.
- If relevant, consider the vision of the larger organisation your service is a part of.
- Develop a shared vision and reflect on how it might be achieved.
- Decide what your service philosophy statement should say and how it should look.
- Draft your service statement of philosophy and seek more input and feedback from everyone involved in your service.
- Set timeframes for the next review of your service philosophy.
- Display your service statement of philosophy at your service.
Below are some questions you can use to guide your reflections and discussions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- Who is it benefitting?
- Why is it important?
- How does your service philosophy shape and guide your service’s operations?
- What practices are embedded in your service to promote its values and beliefs?
- How do you involve children in the process of reviewing your service philosophy?
- What is achieved?
- What are the outcomes for children, families, educators and the community?
Key principles and outcomes you may wish to consider:
- The rights and best interests of the child underpin all practice.
- Children’s safety, health and wellbeing are paramount. Each child is respected without discrimination or bias and has a voice.
- Children are viewed as successful, competent and capable learners who are given opportunities to construct their own understandings, contribute to the learning of others and participate in decisions that affect them.
- Equity, inclusion and diversity are embedded in practice. Children are given every opportunity to succeed and their diverse circumstances, cultural background and abilities are respected and valued.
- Collaborative partnerships in the community are developed and maintained.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are acknowledged, respected and valued. The child in the context of their family is valued. Trusting, supportive relationships and collaborative partnerships are developed and maintained with families.
- Management, team members and educators are professional, skilled, knowledgeable, reflective, collaborative, and are dedicated to quality outcomes for children.
- Continuous improvement, best practice and quality outcomes underpin practice. Current research, theories and understandings are considered and applied in the context of the uniqueness of the service through a process of ongoing critical reflection.
- ·Children are supported to become environmentally responsible which is embedded in practice, programs and policies.
You may also wish to refer to:
- your service’s Quality Improvement Plan
- Guiding Principles of the National Quality Framework
- Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics.
- A simplified version of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Visit the ACECQA website for:
- Quality Improvement Research Project
- Guide to the National Quality Framework
- Belonging, Being and Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework
- My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care
- eLearning modules for approved providers – Service Vision and Service Philosophy
Quality Support Program
In NSW, the Quality Support Program Dual Program Pathways is a professional learning partnership between ACECQA and the NSW Department of Education to support the ongoing quality improvement of eligible ECEC services in NSW rated as Working Towards National Quality Standard (NQS) and/or with identified compliance support needs.
There is now a new tailored support program that is available for State Regulated Services (SRS) who are now aligned with the National Quality Framework (NQF).
Find more information on the ACECQA website.