The Assessment and Rating Process… What does it really achieve?
Recently Capalaba went through their 2nd A&R since opening in 2013. During the first A&R we received an Exceeding rating and also applied and successfully achieved the Excellent Rating, as icing on the cake, an achievement that the team should be very proud of. As notification came through for our 2nd round of A&R in August I wondered to myself; Who will be the assessor? What will they be looking for? Will they be nice? What little things will they pick us up on?
As the Nominated Supervisor, I know my team, I know the service, the families, the children and I knew that our service most definitely operated each and every day as Exceeding the National Quality Standards, but that was just my opinion, what if the assessors opinion was different?
Then it really hit me, it really is just one person’s opinion on what they see over a very small window of time. Yes, there are guidelines that need to be followed and minimum standards to be met, but what makes a centre meeting or exceeding? Who decides what exceeding looks like? How does the assessor know that what they see on those few short days are in fact a typical day and not something staged, something that educators took hours upon hours to ‘create’ because of A&R.
What if centres pretended to be something else, something that is not a fluid, and authentic process? How can assessors really know fake from authentic?
These were some of the questions going through my head in the lead up to the big week.
This was my first time as a Nominated Supervisor going through A&R so for me personally I felt a lot of pressure to support my team, keep them calm and relaxed through the whole process, whilst I quietly rocked back and forth on my office floor.
As part of the process each service needs to provide the Department of Education a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), which outlines how a service operates, the policies, procedures, curriculum, relationships with families, relationships with children etc. The QIP is a living document that showcases everything that we do and why; updating our QIP just reinforced for me how amazing our service is. The information that was documented, the photos, the reflections we had as a team, with families, even with our children, were all recorded and as clear as day, it was evident that this service without a doubt is Exceeding regardless of one person’s opinion.
Once I had sent through our QIP I felt instant relief, why? Because I decided not to worry anymore, not to stress, that whatever the outcome I was proud of our team, proud of our practices and I knew that what we were doing was best for our children and families, and that really is all that matters.
A&R week came and went, with the team doing what they do each day, nothing really changed, expect perhaps for a few extra nerves. I thought to myself, surely there has to be a better way, something that is less invasive and more authentic?
As a service we focus on the process rather than the end result, we understand that the learning happening during is more relevant then seeing the results at the end. So shouldn’t we as a sector be looking at this for our own rating system?? Wouldn’t the assessors see more authentic practices if they conducted regular checks on services, unannounced, throughout the year and saw the progress of services over time, rather than quickly mashed together over a couple of days?
Overall, I really feel that there is too much emphasis put on the Assessment and Rating process, I still don’t feel that there is a national standard with many networking groups finding the same practices happening, yet different results. I know many services that are Meeting that I truly feel should be Exceeding, I also know services that are rating Exceeding and I scratch my head, perhaps I am missing something, who knows.
Here’s what I do know though, our families and children are happy with our service, the team, that I am extremely privileged to work alongside, give their all, and we are always advocating for the rights of the child, for children to have the best possible opportunities whilst in our care. If our families, children and educators are happy and supportive, what more could I ask for?
As a side note, we did receive an Exceeding rating, congratulations to everyone that is a part of our Eskay Kids Capalaba community.
Eskay Kids Capalaba