Tips to meet Quality Area 4: Staffing arrangements

In a professional and collaborative environment, all staff respect and value diverse contributions and viewpoints of their colleagues. Keep reading for more information and helpful hints.

Female educator and 3 young students playing with wooden blocks at an activity table inside an Early Childhood Education centre Female educator and 3 young students playing with wooden blocks at an activity table inside an Early Childhood Education centre

The aim of Quality Area 4 is to ensure suitably qualified and experienced educators, coordinators and nominated supervisors are engaged by services. It guides ECEC staff teams to develop warm, respectful relationships with children, create safe and predictable environments and encourage children’s active engagement in the learning program.

Standard 4.2 outlines the importance of professionalism within the National Quality Framework, enabling collaboration, respect and ethical behaviours.

Ethics inform professionalism

‘A code of ethics, distinct from your own personal values, is a set of clearly defined and distinctive values and virtues regarded as important by a profession.’ Working with the ECA Code of Ethics by Catherine Hydon.

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has designed a Code of Ethics specifically for early childhood education and care environments. The ‘commitments to action’ within the Code encourage early childhood professionals to consider their appropriate and expected conduct, and the document can be used as a framework for critical reflection to guide professional behaviours and complex decision-making.

Translations of the ECA Code of Ethics can be found on the ECA website.

The importance of respectful discourse

The ability to have respectful and civil conversations is integral to professional collaboration and can assist staff to a deeper understanding of pedagogy, practice and philosophy.

Differing opinions are natural and the way we manage these conversations can strengthen relationships.

‘When adults communicate effectively and respectfully with each other they promote a positive and calm atmosphere at the service, supporting children to feel safe and secure and contributing to the development of positive relationships between children and educators.’ Guide to the National Quality Framework, p. 219

You can access a free webinar and reflective document on Managing Challenging Conversations, delivered by the Department in partnership with Semann & Slattery.

Staff may use these resources to consider how their team interactions remain constructive and productive.

Some reflective questions you may consider to promote professionalism at your service:

  • How do we build respectful and reciprocal relationships with our team, the children and families?
  • How are professionalism and ethics included in our service philosophy?
  • What theories about professionalism and ethics influence our practice?
  • How do we actively promote trust and respect for the voices of our team when collaborating?
  • How do our conversations as a team represent and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture?
  • How does staff professionalism benefit our service delivery?
  • Where might I observe ethics in action through my practice?
  • As a provider what is my role in achieving and maintaining high levels of trust, respect, professionalism and collaboration in services that I am accountable for?
  • What are the benefits that flow from promoting professionalism in the service setting?

Some tips for providers and their services

  • Consider how mental health influences your educators and staff. Seek guidance from free webinars created by the Department and Be You on creating a mentally healthy community.
  • Be inspired by the ‘Be You’ national mental health in education initiative ‘Education Voices’.
  • Seek information on the Australian Government Department of Education’s Early childhood workforce webpage regarding the National Workforce Strategy and initiatives. Available supports include wage support for trainees, relocation assistance and free or low-fee training courses.
  • Engage with the ACECQA Shaping Our Future documents, which complement the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy.
  • Complete ACECQA’s National Quality Framework (NQF) professional development eLearning modules as a team and reflect on knowledge and skills of the team.
  • Review responsibilities under the National Law and Regulations to ensure your service meets minimum staffing arrangements by using The Guide to the NQF, Chapter 4 Operational Requirements.
  • Access ACECQA’s website for resources regarding staffing arrangements and the promotion of professionalism.
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