The Early Years Learning Framework
The Early Years Learning Framework is part of the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) reform agenda for early childhood education and care and is a key component of the Australian Government’s National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care. It underpins universal access to early childhood education and will be incorporated in the National Quality Standard in order to ensure delivery of nationally consistent and quality early childhood education across sectors and jurisdictions.
The Early Years Learning Framework describes the principles, practice and outcomes essential to support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school. The Framework has a strong emphasis on play-based learning as play is the best vehicle for young children’s learning providing the most appropriate stimulus for brain development. The Framework also recognises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development
Development of the Early Years Learning Framework
The Early Years Learning Framework has been developed collaboratively by the Australian and State and Territory Governments with substantial input from the early childhood sector and early childhood academics. The Framework has incorporated feedback from an extensive consultation process, including two national symposiums, national public consultation forums, focus groups, an online forum and case-study trials.
National Quality Framework
On 1 January 2012, the National Quality Framework was established and applied to most long day care, family day care, preschool (or kindergarten) and outside schools hours care services.
National Quality Framework
The National Quality Framework aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in education and care services through:
- a national legislative framework
- a National Quality Standard
- a national quality rating and assessment process
- a new national body called the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.
National legislative framework
The national legislative framework is established through an applied laws system and consists of:
- the Education and Care Services National Law
- the Education and Care Services National Regulations.
It creates a jointly governed uniform national approach to the regulation and quality assessment of education and care services and replaces existing separate licensing and quality assurance processes. For many services this integrated approach means less red tape.
A Regulatory Authority in each state and territory will be primarily responsible for administering the National Quality Framework, including approving, monitoring and quality assessing services. It will be the first point of contact for services.
A new national body—the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority—will oversee the National Quality Framework and ensure the consistent and effective implementation of the new system.
National Quality Standard
The National Quality Standard sets a new national benchmark for the quality of education and care services. The National Quality Standard is divided into seven Quality Areas:
- Educational program and practice
- Children’s health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management.
The National Quality Standard aims to promote:
- the safety, health and wellbeing of children
- a focus on achieving outcomes for children through high-quality educational programs
- families’ understanding of what distinguishes a quality service.
National quality rating and assessment process
Approved Services will be assessed and rated against each of the seven Quality Areas of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations. They will also be given an overall rating. The rating and assessment process aim to drive continuous quality improvement at services and provide families with better information for making choices about their children’s education and care.
Assessments for existing services will commence from mid-2012.
The National Quality Framework will replace the National Childcare Accreditation Council.