Using the Service Philosophy to Guide Effective Leadership and Governance: Advice from ACECQA

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The Australian Education and Childcare Quality Authority (ACECQA) has published guidelines on the importance and value of a service philosophy as a guiding document for quality leadership and governance.

In order to fully implement the elements of effective governance and leadership, as outlined in Quality Area 7 (QA 7) of the National quality standard (NQS), a service needs a written philosophy statement that clearly outlines the purpose, vision and principles under which your service operates.

The philosophy, ACECQA said, comes with a positive organizational culture, professional development, effective self-assessment and a strong quality improvement process to complete QA 7.

With approved learning frameworks (Early Childhood Learning Framework and My Time Our Place), the philosophy helps educators consider the service approach to learning, relationships, well-being, and leadership.

Ideally, ACECQA said, the philosophy is a “living document” reflecting the current beliefs and values ​​of the service team, families and children, as well as changing circumstances or new ideas.

It should also reflect the National Quality Frameworkunderlie policies and procedures and are actively used to guide all aspects of service operations and practices.

Effective leadership is guided by a written philosophy statement describing the purpose, vision, and principles by which the service operates and how leadership is implemented.

The Quality Improvement Research Project (ACECQA 2019, p. 4) studied the characteristics and processes of improving the quality of services, noting:

“Service Managers play a critical role in supporting and sustaining quality improvement, including leading the service philosophy and working with the authorized provider to create and maintain a positive and supportive workplace.”

It was found that the philosophy of a service was an essential document for the conduct of the program. In services that improved to exceed the NQS, philosophy statements were detailed, involved all stakeholders, and demonstrated systematic approaches to philosophy review.

Why is it important to review the philosophy statement?

Regular reviews of the philosophy statement ensure that it meets the needs of the service, its educators and leaders, and often-changing key stakeholders, including children, families, and the wider community.

A review provides an opportunity to stop, reflect and rethink “what we do and why we do it”.

It also allows the service to consider new developments and opportunities, such as:

  • new research to inform practice
  • changes to legislation
  • professional development opportunities
  • changes to policies and procedures
  • changes in community needs and priorities
  • conversations between educators, children and families.

Who should be involved?

Everyone involved in the service should have a say in the development and revision of its philosophy statement.

When the instructional leader, designated supervisor, coordinators, and educators contribute to a review of the philosophy statement, they gain a better understanding of how it underpins daily practices and decision-making. Their involvement also creates ownership and encourages commitment and willingness to practice your service philosophy.

Encouraging families, children, educators and key community stakeholders to become meaningfully involved can also be used to demonstrate how Quality area 6 (Collaborative Partnerships with Families and Communities) is met.

Inviting children to get involved and incorporating their views shows that their ideas are respected and valued, further developing their sense of agency and alignment with Quality domain 1 (Educational and practical program).

How to Revise the Service Philosophy Statement

ACECQA encouraged providers to consider including these steps:

  1. Critically reflect on the existing philosophy statement. Is it still relevant?
  2. Identify and document the values ​​and beliefs of everyone involved in the service: children, families, educators, staff, management and relevant community representatives.
  3. If applicable, consider the vision of the larger organization of which the service is a part.
  4. Develop a common vision and think about how it could be achieved.
  5. Decide what the service philosophy statement should say and what it should look like.
  6. Write a service philosophy statement and solicit more input and feedback from everyone involved in the service.
  7. Set deadlines for the next review of the service philosophy.
  8. Display the Service Philosophy Service Statement.

Guiding questions for reflections and discussions:

Why (philosophy)

  • Why do you do what you do?

How (to train)

  • How does your service philosophy shape and guide your service operations?
  • What practices are integrated into your service to promote its values ​​and beliefs?
  • How do you involve children in the process of reviewing your philosophy of service?

What (principles)

  • What are the results for children, families, educators and the community?

Main principles and results to consider:

  • The rights and best interests of the child underpin all practice.
  • The safety, health and well-being of children are paramount. Every child is respected without discrimination or bias and has a voice.
  • Children are seen as high-performing, competent and capable learners who have the opportunity to build their own understanding, contribute to the learning of others and participate in decisions that affect them.
  • Equity, inclusion and diversity are rooted in practice. Children have every opportunity to succeed and their diverse circumstances, cultural backgrounds and abilities are respected and valued.
  • Collaborative partnerships in the community are developed and maintained.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are recognized, respected and valued. The child in the context of his family is valued. Trusting and supportive relationships and collaborative partnerships are developed and maintained with families.
  • The management, team members and educators are professional, knowledgeable, knowledgeable, thoughtful, collaborative and dedicated to quality outcomes for children.
  • Continuous improvement, best practices and quality outcomes underpin the practice. Current research, theories and understandings are examined and applied in the context of the uniqueness of the service through a process of continuous critical reflection.
  • Children are supported to become environmentally responsible, which is integrated into practice, programs and policies.

Services may also wish to refer to:

Visit the The ACECQA website for:

Quality Support Program

In New South Wales, the Quality Support Program Dual Program Pathways is a professional learning partnership between ACECQA and the New South Wales Department of Education to support continuous quality improvement of eligible ECEC services in New South Wales classified as working towards the National Quality Standard (NQS) and/or with identified compliance support needs.

A new tailored support package is now available for State Regulated Services (SRS) which are now aligned with the National Quality Framework (NQF).

For more information, visit the The ACECQA website

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