NSW Minister’s Statement of Expectations
In October this year, Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell MP announced a Minister’s Statement of Expectations. This formal public statement covers how the education and care sector’s regulator will operate and what the public can expect of government in ensuring that education and care services in NSW are appropriately regulated.
Under the Statement of Expectations:
All services are to receive at least one site visit per year. A site visit may be a compliance, monitoring or assessment and rating visit.
At least 95% of new services will now receive an assessment and rating within 18 months of operation.
All services rated Working Towards the NQS at 1 August 2022 will be re-assessed by 31 July 2024.
At least 87% of services in NSW are to be rated either Meeting or Exceeding NQS (the Q3 NQS Snapshot shows this is currently achieved in NSW.)1
In addition, a process for services or families to make a complaint about a service or the regulator has been established.
Feedback and complaints about services or about the NSW Department of Education, which serves as the Regulatory Authority in NSW, can be raised in one of the following ways:
Why the Statement of Expectations is important for families
The most important aspect of the Statement of Expectations is that it sets performance standards for the NSW Department of Education in its role as the regulator of education and care services in NSW. It is a mechanism to ensure that appropriate levels of regulation of the sector occur, which in turn means families should be able to have confidence in sending their child to an education and care provider.
The Statement of Expectations also gives families an option to escalate a complaint if they are not satisfied with how the service has responded by raising it directly with the NSW Department of Education.
Families can also make a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman, which they may do if unsatisfied with how the Department of Education responds.
Why the Statement of Expectations is important for education and care services
For education and care services, the Statement of Expectations provides assurance that they should be able to expect certain things from their regulator—in terms of a minimum number of visits and a minimum time to assess and rate a visit after a service first opens.
The Statement of Expectations also sets out that:
What CELA says
CELA welcomes these measures, which will help services meet regulatory requirements and enable both families and services to have higher confidence in the regulatory process. Our joint 6 Point Plan for Education & Care (developed by CELA together with CCC and ELAA and released ahead of the federal election this year) highlighted the importance of an appropriate level of regulation to ensure the market functions effectively and strives for quality. This includes calling for Assessment & Rating to be updated every 3 years at a minimum and to remove consistently under-performing services from the National Register and revoke funding.
Services should consider reviewing their complaints policy to ensure that parents are informed of what to do should they wish to make a complaint and what to do if they are dissatisfied with how their education and care service has responded to a complaint. Drawing on CELA’s complaints policy template could be a good place to start.
Read more about the Minister’s Statement of Expectations here
Important change for CCS services regarding incentives
From 1 January 2023, certain incentives to encourage families to enrol a child at a service will no longer be permitted.
These incentives (or inducements) include those that are not directly associated with the provision or quality of education and care services.
For example, the following types of inducements will no longer be permitted:
Services can still offer discounted education and care, however, fee discounts must be appropriately reported if CCS is being claimed. Services can also still offer free site visits or trials.
By 1 January 2023, all inducements and all marketing material offering inducements must cease; otherwise, providers may find themselves in breach. DESE is encouraging the public to call 1800 664 231 or email the tip-off line to alert them if any services are still offering inducements after 1 January.
What’s the rationale for the change?
Ideally, families should be able to select a service based on quality and value for money. Providing inducements distorts the market and can make other factors, such as the prospect of a free iPad, more important than quality when choosing a service.
How can I market my education and care service?
Marketing should always be a part of the regular activities of operating your service. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, from ensuring the service is physically visible to having a web and social media presence.
If you feel you need to offer some point of difference to encourage families to choose your service over another, look to your Quality Improvement Plan’s strengths and consider how to communicate these to families.
Do you have a lot of outdoor space and access to natural environments?
Do you staff above ratio?
Do your staff have higher qualifications than regulations require?
What do your staff bring to the service? Do they offer different cultural perspectives which can enrich children’s understanding of the world?
How satisfied are your current families with the service and can you draw on and promote testimonials and reviews?
These are all factors that can highlight service strengths and provide a sound basis for the promotion of what you offer.
Word of mouth has been and will always be a key tool to promote your service, so happy families and staff are one of your most valuable marketing channels.
Find out more about the changes to inducements here
Need more information about marketing your service?
CELA members can download our “Marketing Your Early Education and Care Service’ Team Resource Kit here.
You can purchase a copy of our Marketing Toolkit in our shop.
1 ACECQA, Q3 2022 NQS Snapshot – analysis by CELA