Reflections on the assessment process

Joey’s Pouch is a community-based service with 39 places, in a rural community. The service was assessed recently, and is awaiting the draft report from the regulatory authority. Overall, the process on the days of the visit appeared to be positive and flow smoothly.

At a team meeting following the assessment, team members commented that the experience was made less daunting by the open and friendly approach of the Assessment and Compliance Officer (ACO). However, they felt a sense of anticlimax at the end of the visit as no tangible feedback was provided, making it difficult to comment upon the day’s proceedings when families asked: ‘How did the assessment go?’

Families were perplexed, and questioned the logic behind the practice of giving limited feedback at the end of the assessment visit, and the service not having any idea of the outcome until the draft report was received.

Positives that came out of the visit included: the ACO being very familiar with the service’s Quality Improvement Plan; the acknowledgement of team members’ skills and abilities to engage and be immersed in an interactive program steeped in relationships with children and families; the genuine interest shown by the ACO with the Joey’s Pouch practice of mixed-age groupings, and the diversity of the environment that is set up within learning areas, as opposed to rooms for individual age groups.

Critical reflection following the assessment raised some questions for us:

  • How can the process for services be transparent and equitable, to ensure that each service’s ratings reflect ongoing practice, not just what is seen on the day of assessment?
  • Is the ACO’s workload excessive, with limited times allocated for visits and subsequent report writing?
  • How are practice and language interpreted, within the National Quality Standard? For example, what is seen to be sustainable practice in one service will appear differently within another service.

Overall, the process on the day appeared to be positive and flowed smoothly. The limited feedback which the ACO gave us was that the team appeared to be competent and professional, and that it was evident that the program evolved around relationships and reflection, which they found very encouraging. The team here at Joey’s believe that this process—although still in its infancy—is one that advocates quality outcomes for children, families and early childhood educators and teachers.

Janette Glynn BEd (Early Childhood)
Director and Educational Leader,
Joey’s Pouch

Every Child magazine – vol. 18 no. 4, 2012.

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