Self-assessment is an essential step in identifying and moving towards quality improvement. Self-assessment affects the overall experience and outcomes for children and families at the service.
... the most effective improvements to service delivery are initiated from within the service, rather than being imposed from the outside.
In designing a self-assessment process service, the following are some considerations.
Various factors affect who is selected as the most appropriate person to lead the self-assessment process in the service. These factors include:
The person leading the self-assessment process is not expected to do all the work, or to be responsible for all the decisions or outcomes. However, someone needs to be identified to lead the way and ensure that the process is being implemented.
Engaging everyone in the process is critical. Include children, families, all educators and other staff or professionals who work closely with the service. The service type and context will influence how this engagement occurs, as face-to-face discussions may not always be possible.
Self-assessment involves examining current practice at the service, deciding what is being done well and identifying what might need to be improved.
During the self-assessment process, the service's practice is evaluated against the requirements of the National Law and the National Regulations, as well as against the guidance provided in the National Quality Standard and the approved learning framework.
After self-assessment, services will be able to identify goals that will enhance the quality of children's and families' experiences within the service. These goals can then be incorporated into the service's QIP.
Diagram showing the self-assessment process
Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard is a useful tool for the self-assessment process. It is designed to assist educators and management to understand the detail of each of the quality areas, standards and elements that make up the National Quality Standard.
Services can use the guide to:
As the improvements you are seeking to make are mainly to benefit children, it is particularly important to include their voices in these processes. The best plans are developed and reviewed collaboratively, involving, wherever possible, children, families, educators, staff members, management and other interested parties, such as those who assist children with additional needs.
The following are two examples of including different perspectives:
The following are examples of how people leading the self-assessment process use 'Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard' to foster critically reflective, honest self-assessment. The examples are from a range of different service types.
As long as your service reviews its practices against all of the relevant sections of the National Law, National Regulations and the standards and elements of the National Quality Standard, the self-assessment process can be carried out in a way that suits your service.
Many services create a working document or 'to do' list during their self-assessment process so that they do not lose sight of areas that need to be followed up.
Some issues should be followed up immediately, especially if they relate to children's safety or wellbeing.
Other issues will need to be reflected upon, planned and implemented over time. These are the ones to incorporate into the QIP.
Self-assessment at the service is expected to be ongoing, regular and systematic.
Under the National Quality Framework, services are encouraged to continuously focus on quality improvement. For this reason, each service needs to have in place a continuous cycle of review that includes:
Self-assessment is not over once the regulations and the standards and elements of the National Quality Standard have been reviewed for the first time. The process should be a continual one so that all aspects of practice are critically reflected upon, even areas that have been previously recognised as strengths.
Practice can be affected when:
There is no specific requirement for how to undertake self-assessment on an ongoing basis. Each service will do it differently, depending on their service type, their context and the time that they have to meet together as a team. However, the service should allocate time to regularly and systematically review service practice against the standards and elements of the National Quality Standard.
Most services have staff meetings (monthly or bi-monthly) and these are ideal opportunities to undertake critical reflection as a team. Some services identify a particular aspect of practice that is to be discussed so that everyone has the opportunity to think about it beforehand.
Using a systematic approach means having a plan to review all aspects of the National Quality Standard over time so that none of them are overlooked. It also means keeping a record of what has been assessed and when that occurred.
The self-assessment should also include how the service is engaging with the approved learning framework.
Having an organised approach to continuous self-assessment will ensure that the service stays focused on quality improvement.
We recognised that the process is about continuous improvement and constantly reflecting on our own practices to look for ways we can improve and adapt to our community.
Mandy Richardson from St Pius X OSHC, in Reflections, 47, 2012
Now that you have explored self-assessment, you may want to learn more about developing and implementing a QIP.
Educators Belonging, Being and Becoming: Educators' Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, 2009
Educators My Time Our Place: Educators' Guide to Framework for School Age Care in Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
'Guide 2: Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013
'Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013
'Guide 4: Guide to developing a Quality Improvement Plan', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013