Quality Improvement Plan and the National Quality Standards
The AEDC provides publicly available data on the state of children’s development that early childhood education services can use to meet mandatory reporting requirements as part of the National Quality Framework such as the Quality Improvement Plan.
AEDC data can be used as a guide for early childhood education services to reflect on their practice in working towards optimal outcomes for children using the five AEDC domains. The AEDC can support services to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement in planning their service provision approach.
AEDC data can support early childhood education services to complete National Quality Standard, Quality Area 1, element 1.1.1 (curriculum decision-making contributes to each child’s learning and developmental outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators).
For example when considering areas for improvement, early childhood educators may want to address the community-wide vulnerabilities demonstrated by the AEDC results. Conversely, low levels of vulnerability may be used to illustrate an area of strength.
The AEDC also paints a powerful picture of the developmental gains that can be made when early childhood education services work in collaborative partnerships with families and communities (Quality Area 6).
Collaborative partnerships that are effective in improving outcomes for local children can work towards shifting the AEDC results for their community. This is reflected in standard 6.1 (developing respectful supportive relationships with families), standard 6.2 (supporting families in their parenting role and respecting parents’ values and beliefs on child rearing) and standard 6.3 (linking with other organisations and service providers).
In planning to improve Quality Area 6, early childhood educators can use the AEDC results for their community as a platform to start a conversation and form respectful collaborative partnerships. Early childhood education services can also use community-level AEDC data to support their perceived practice strength or area for improvement.
For these reasons, the AEDC can provide a starting point for locally driven action and community partnerships to work towards improving children’s outcomes.
Using the AEDC to work within the Early Years Learning Framework
The AEDC can help assist early childhood educators consolidate their understanding of children’s developmental milestones, reflect on the developmental progress of individual children, and plan to achieve optimal outcomes for each child.
About the Early Years Learning Framework
The Early Years Learning Framework (the Framework) is Australia’s first early childhood education curriculum framework. It ensures a nationally consistent approach to education for children from birth to age five years. The Framework has a specific emphasis on play based learning, recognises the importance of communication, language, social and emotional development and is designed to be used in partnership with families – children’s first and most influential educators.
Principles of the Early Years Learning Framework
The Framework underpins the National Quality Standard and defines principles and practice for improving quality in early childhood education. The Framework describes five learning outcomes to ensure young children received the best start to life-long learning. These include that children should:
- have a strong sense of identity
- be connected with, and contribute to, their world
- have a strong sense of wellbeing
- be confident and involved learners
- be effective communicators.
Using the AEDC domains to support Early Years Learning Framework and National Quality Standards developmental milestones
The AEDC measures whether children are developmentally ‘on track’, ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ with respect to meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones as they begin school. A sound understanding of these developmental milestones will support early childhood educators to effectively assess children’s play and learning and plan for each child with their strengths/needs and the outcomes of the Framework in mind.
Development of both the AEDC and the Early Years Learning Framework was based on developmental milestones (see Table 1).
Table 1. Developmental milestones for children aged three to five years, the Framework/National Quality Standards (NQS) and the AEDC domains.
The Framework and NQS
EYLF Outcome 3. (p.32)
NQS Areas: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.
Physical Health and Wellbeing
ELYF Outcome 1. (p.24).
NQS Areas: 1, 5, 6.
EYLF Outcome 2. (p.27).
NQS Areas: 1, 2, 5, 6.
EYLF Outcome 5. (p.42).
NQS Areas: 1, 5.
Language and cognitive skills (school-based)
EYLF Outcome 5. (p.44).
NQS Areas: 1, 5, 6, 7.
Communication skills and general knowledge
How the AEDC fits into the National Early Childhood Development Strategy
The early childhood education sector benefits from investment and policy reform by the Australian Government such as the National Early Childhood Development Strategy (2009), which is supported by evidence generated by the AEDC.
In response to the evidence generated by the AEDC and ongoing research, the Australian and state/territory governments are increasingly focusing on the early years. This has considerable implications for the early childhood education sector.
By understanding the link between policy reform and their core business, early childhood educators will be prepared to respond to and look for new opportunities – such as increasing the profile of, and investment in, their sector. The AEDC can be a useful tool for early childhood educators to better understand this link.
National Early Childhood Development reform
In 2009 all Australian governments, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), agreed to a partnership to establish a National Early Childhood Development Strategy. The focus of this current reform is to ensure that by 2020 all children have to create a better future for themselves and for the nation.
- strengthening universal maternal, child and family health services
- supporting vulnerable children
- engaging parents and community in understanding of the importance of early childhood development
- improving early childhood infrastructure
- strengthening the workforce across early childhood development and family support services
- building better information and a solid evidence base.
The AEDC meets the specific priority of building Australian evidence. It also provides evidence to support all priorities and activities that work towards the National Early Childhood Development Strategy, including the National Quality Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework.