Tips to meet Quality Area 7: Governance and Leadership
Effective leadership builds and promotes a positive organisational culture and professional learning community.
18 May 2023
Research indicates there is a strong link between leadership and improved outcomes for children. Effective leaders are clear about the purpose of their education and care service and have the necessary skills to communicate shared goals and expectations. This kind of leadership is especially important during periods of change.
Effective leadership establishes a culture of reflective practice to encourage continuous improvement across all aspects of the service, resulting in a higher quality service for children and their families.
Successful teams have a positive attitude towards change and are open to new ways of working. It may be useful for your leadership team to engage staff in team building exercises that are focused on implementing change and quality improvement.
Educational leaders: Inspire, mentor and motivate
As an educational leader you play an integral role in your service to inspire, mentor and motivate. You also challenge educators to extend their practice and pedagogy. Element 7.2.2 of the National Quality Standard (NQS) requires that the educational leader should lead the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle (Quality Area 7).
Educational leaders require a range of skills to effectively undertake this role including the ability to lead and support change within their service. This change process is articulated as ‘continuous improvement’ in the NQS.
Before you can effectively lead change within your service, it is crucial you have developed trusting, respectful and reciprocal relationships with those in your team as an educational leader. A key responsibility as educational leader is to foster a culture of reflection amongst your team. You should ensure your team understands what reflective practice is and guide them to effectively implement it into their daily program and practice. This includes getting to know individual team members and monitoring their progress in relation to the expectations of the education and care program, and assessment and planning cycle.
Effective communication is also an essential skill and ensuring all educators and staff members are informed of any changes to the program or practice will help to build a shared understanding of present and future directions.
Educational leaders can offer inspiration and motivation to their team by encouraging high quality practice and an excitement for change and supporting others to shift practice through mentoring and coaching.
It is important to recognise that change can manifest differently across individual staff; for some it generates excitement and energy, yet for others it may generate fear or resistance. Understanding these perspectives and having insight into the individual’s experience of change will support effective approaches to leading and supporting a team through change.
Implementing reflective practices during periods of change can help to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved. Ensuring a clear understanding of what is changing and why, how the change will be implemented and continued reflective practice of the outcome will support quality improvements across the service.
Using self-assessment to drive quality improvement
Self-assessment is essential in driving and informing continuous improvement. It will support you and your service to identify your strengths and opportunities for improvement on an ongoing basis, ensuring the best outcomes for children.
The need to have an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process in place is identified in Element 7.2.1 of the NQS (Quality Area 7). Regulation 55 also requires approved providers to develop a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to be reviewed and revised annually including an assessment of your service’s practices against the NQS and the National Regulations, areas for improvement and your service’s philosophy. The NSW Self-Assessment Working Document has been designed to help meet the requirements of regulation 55. If the self-assessment working document is maintained by the service in accordance with regulation 55, it is considered to meet the requirements of the QIP.
Self-assessment and quality improvement are ongoing, cyclical processes that support good business governance. Quality is never ‘finished’, therefore self-assessment and quality improvement are continuous. An ongoing cycle of self-assessment, planning and review, whilst engaging all stakeholders including families, will create a culture of continuous improvement in your service.
Self-assessment and quality improvement are most productive when those involved are genuinely open, reflective and critical with a view toward ongoing uplift and improvement. Approved providers should promote and foster a team approach to self-assessment, where communication and positive workplace culture allow everyone the opportunity to participate and have a voice. This approach will ensure your service and staff are in the best position to showcase your service practices when undergoing assessment and rating.
Does your service support each member of your team to actively participate in the ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement processes? If so, how? If not, what steps could be taken to change this?
How does your service’s self-assessment and quality improvement process drive continuous improvement in your service?
What strategies does the educational leader use to build trusting and respectful relationships with each team member in your service?
What strategies does the leadership team use to implement change in your service? Are these effective?
What role does reflective practice play in supporting change in your service?
Additional information for services to meet Quality Area 7
For support and information on using the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document or the self-assessment process, contact the Continuous Improvement Team at email@example.com or call 1800 619 113.
Visit the department’s Self-assessment for quality improvement webpage for FAQs and additional support resources.
Read ACECQA’s The Educational Leader Resource (PDF 20.2 MB), which provides information on how educational leaders can lead change.