After last week’s story about the happy outcome of a completely unexpected Ratings and Assessment visit, we’ve been thinking more about quality ratings and about how ACECQA’s research shows families are still largely unaware of what they mean.
By both research and anecdote, ratings matter far more to educators, providers and regulators than they do to anyone else in the community, including families who should perhaps be more guided by them, and politicians who should be supporting the sector’s continuous quality improvements with their funding decisions.
We know to expect the half-truth media yarn a couple of times a year sounding the alarm about the number of services at Working Towards, and that local media will generally be keen to promote an Exceeding or Excellent rated service.
Apart from that, though, the public and political care factor for this keystone of the National Quality Framework is close to zero.
At CELA we’d like to keep doing our part to change that. One way we can help is to share resources that we believe do a good job explaining the meaning and value of the NQS ratings, like this poster from ACECQA’s parenting website, Starting Blocks.
While the graphic might not be to everyone’s taste, the language is admirably clear and brief, telling parents quickly and precisely what they most need to know about the three main ratings levels – and with a file name starting with ‘V13’ it’s probably been through plenty of iterations and consultations to get to this point!
Hidden in plain sight
Reflecting on Starting Blocks, Raising Children Network, Smart Start and other well-resourced, evidence-based sites aimed at parents, and comparing their availability to the poor family understanding of quality early learning, it’s hard to see how any extra information is necessary to bridge the parental knowledge gap.
With carefully crafted information pages, videos, graphics and social media postings flooding just these three websites, let alone the rest, the answer to informing parents has to be in creating an incentive for them to find out.
Safety and happiness are the two top priorities parents put forward in any research relating to choice of outside home care for their children.
Research now, more than ever, shows that early learning influences a child’s safety and happiness well into adulthood.
It’s up to us to make that connection as clear to the whole community as this poster makes the quality ratings clear to families.
What about you?
Have you already used this NQS ratings poster from Starting Blocks?
Do you get enough face-to-face time with parents and guardians to have discussions about quality?
Do you regularly share other information from Starting Blocks, Raising Children Network, Smart Start with families at your service?
What ‘cuts through’ about quality and long term impact on children’s learning with families in your community?
Bec Lloyd, Editor Amplify and Rattler+Broadside magazine