Raising the bar of excellence, in Early Childhood Education & Care
In December 2021, one of our valued customers, Bellambi Point Community Pre-School [CPS], (which is owned and operated by Big Fat Smile), was awarded the highest possible rating under the National Quality Framework (NQF) – EXCELLENT!!
There are only 38 Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services across Australia* that currently hold the EXCELLENT rating. Not only is this an outstanding achievement, but Bellambi Point CPS has set the bar high for educators and service providers across the whole ECEC sector.
“The Excellent rating recognises services that provide evidence of exceptional education and care, visionary leadership and a commitment to continuous improvement and comprehensive forward planning” (ACECQA, 2020)
To be awarded EXCELLENT, an approved ECEC service must apply to ACECQA and needs to be already rated Exceeding in all seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS).
Cassie is the director at Bellambi Point CPS. Her and her team are a dedicated, passionate and inspirational group of educators! It is obvious the team thrive under Cassie’s leadership. Together, they have embedded excellence into their everyday practices. The team have created a welcoming ECEC service, that celebrates the uniqueness of each child and their family. Their continued commitment and hard work has seen Bellambi Point CPS become an integral part of the local community. Being so deeply embedded within the community, offers local children the golden opportunity to receive exceptional care and education. Thus providing them with the foundation for lifelong quality outcomes.
*at the time of writing (May 2022)
A chat with Cassie
Kinderloop HQ had the privilege of chatting with Cassie to find out more about the team and what an EXCELLENT rated service looks like in practice…
Many educators and service providers find the assessment and rating process quite daunting. What made Bellambi Point CPS want to apply and go through the process for Excellent?
The educators at Bellambi Point CPS are extremely passionate about the care and education we provide on a daily basis. After achieving an Exceeding rating, we began to have discussions about the Excellence process with members of Big Fat Smile and decided this was an avenue we would like to take. This decision was made to celebrate and acknowledge the education and care we provide, along with the improved positive outcomes for children and families in our Community.
Can you give us your top 5 tips for preparing for Assessment & Rating (A&R)?
- Our biggest tip in preparing for A&R would be to embed quality across your daily practice. Quality is not just provided during the assessment and rating process, it is provided year-round and enables quality outcomes for children, families and the community.
- Have an effective reflective practice embedded. Educators at Bellambi regularly engage in robust, reflective discussions which guide practice change and improve outcomes
- Know you children and families and build strong and meaningful relationships. Create routines and practices that work for your preschool community.
- Utilise the Kinderloop platform to create systems and practices that become part of your daily or weekly routines. This practice then becomes your evidence and allows for limited preparation time for A&R.
- Work as a team and keep learning! We recognise that ongoing learning play a huge role in our profession and regularly engage in professional development and/or discussions across the sector.
One of the exceptional areas ACECQA recognised Bellambi Point CPS for, was for “positive workplace culture and organisational values, sustained commitment to professional development and support of educators”. This reveals a lot about your leadership! You clearly value your team. What do you believe are the fundamental qualities of an exceptional leader?
To me, an exceptional leader is not only supporting educators and providing the resources required to effectively complete their role, it is also mentoring and encouraging educators to build on learning and skills.
It is vital to know the people you are working with and provide opportunities for excellence. One of the ways I do this, is to create individual roles based around educators interests, strengths and preferences.
I align myself with Big Fat Smile’s values of Safety, Leadership, Integrity, Inclusion, Child-Centric and Collaboration, as do the educators who work at Bellambi.
Being a leader at Bellambi Point CPS, allows me and my team access to a variety of support networks within Big Fat Smile. When educators are supported, they feel valued and respected, contributing to a positive workplace culture within both the service and the organisation.
Bellambi Point CPS has a strong connection to the local community and inclusive partnerships with children and families. Relationships take time! Can you tell us how you achieved this and what it means to you as a service to be deeply embedded within the local community?
As you have said, relationships take time, educators at Bellambi believe in equity, rather then equality, so we know that different children and families require different levels of support and in different ways and that’s ok. We provide a non-judgemental approach to relationships and immerse ourselves in community supports and partnerships.
To be embedded in the local community at Bellambi Point CPS, simply means that we are familiar and trusting people! We regularly liaise with the community, and spend time exploring our surrounds as often as possible. We actively participate in events and recognise community culture.
What are you most proud of at Bellambi Point CPS?
I am most proud of the improved outcomes for children, families and the community. The holistic support educators offer at Bellambi increases outcomes for the children and supports children’s sense of belonging to our service.
Our advocacy, consistency and commitment to our Bellambi community is ongoing and reflective of our Excellence practice.
I am equally proud to work with wonderful and passionate educators. Each educator at Bellambi Point CPS is dedicated to being a continuous learner, which supports reflective practice and drives the quality we are able to provide.
Would you say Kinderloop was beneficial in your recent rating?
Kinderloop was definitely beneficial in supporting both the Exceeding and Excellent Rating. Having one place to document key practices to use as evidence supports the entire process. Kinderloop also supports parent input, especially during Covid, when relationships and connection with families became more challenging, we had to think outside the box to maintain and support these. Kinderloop provided an easy connect between educators and families, as well as the community. Being able to share
upcoming events, supports and community happenings on a digital platform, which is
easily accessible, is extremely beneficial.
What do you love most about Kinderloop?
We love being able to search for key words, tags and even groups! Kinderloop has helped educators increase knowledge around the Early Years Learning Framework, the National Quality Standards and even theoretical perspectives. We don’t have to look things up separately or refer to a book or a
website, it’s all in one places making it so much easier and time effective! We also love being able to create a system where you can share information, store it and recall it when needed. Displaying the information in chronological order and with the search function allows us to create a filter to analyse posts stored. This is extremely helpful for monitoring a range of information including a child’s
Are there any features you’d like to see added to Kinderloop?
We are happy with the range of features already available, being able to organise the platform to our needs i.e. create our own groups and tags, as well as using the range of tags provided to us is beneficial and supports our daily practice.
Do you have any other wise words for educators and services embarking on the assessment and rating process?
Embed quality into your everyday practice! Continue to advocate for our sector, the children and families in your care and build genuine and supporting relationships with the wider community!
Congratulations to such a hardworking and inspirational team!!
Find out more about Bellambi Point CPS here https://bigfatsmile.com.au/centre/bellambi-point-preschool/
To learn more about the Excellent rating & how to apply, check out the ACECQA website https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/excellent-rating