The below article has been written by Busy Bees Area Manager, Narelle Robinson
Recently, the staff at our Busy Bees at Warner Service had the privilege of connecting with Susan Irvine, PhD Professor, from Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
This opportunity enabled the Service to engage in a research project, with a focus on National Quality Improvement, funded by ACECQA. The project focus was investigating the characteristics and internal processes of long day care (LDC) services that achieved significant quality improvement outcomes over two National Quality Standard (NQS) quality rating assessments, with a particular focus on Quality Area 1 (educational program and practice) and Quality Area 7 (governance and leadership.)
Busy Bees at Warner was one of a small handful of Services in Australia that had achieved an improvement from Working Towards to Meeting/Exceeding the National Quality Standards.
Professor Susan Irvine spent 2 days at the Service being involved in respectful and professional conversations with the Educators, developing an understanding of their enablers, barriers and the role of the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) in the Assessment and Rating process and continuous quality improvement.
Collectively, this allowed us as a Service to focus our energy on critical reflection, where we have come from and where we are going.
Being part of research gives Educators the opportunity to think about their experiences and reflect on their own and very individual journeys. It encourages Educators to think about the Service holistically, and in particular how their contributions have positive and uplifting effects on the work that they do with children.
These experiences are truly powerful, as they provoke us to change our mindset, look deeper at our understanding, seek further knowledge, and share our perspectives. This was a rewarding experience for everyone involved, understanding the drivers, systems, growth, support mechanisms and ensuring the end result is about achieving the best outcomes for children.
It’s important to acknowledge that we are always on a continuous improvement journey. Recognising the contributions of the team, and allowing them to bring their individual flavour and uniqueness to their roles, is absolutely crucial.
It all stems from being – ‘you’, belonging – ‘to the Service, team and community’ and becoming – ‘a professional you, something that others appreciate and admire’.
A realisation was to feel a sense of ease during the Assessment and Rating process, feeling relaxed about the work that you do and feeling in tune with others, complimenting each other in practice, acknowledging each other’s strengths and reaching out when support was needed.
Our focus is on strengthening our leadership, both from a Service Manager and Educational Leader perspective, with a strong emphasis on succession planning and decision making.
We believe that knowledge is power, and when we build the capability, strengthen our understanding, and support the building of confidence, overall quality is improved.
As the Area Manager, my commitment is to recognise and showcase quality. Sharing best practice across the network drives a strong commitment to continuous quality improvement. It’s about the ‘tell me and show me’ approach.
Professor Susan Irvine was delighted to see our commitment as an organisation and at the Service level to strive for continuous quality improvement, because at Busy Bees that’s what our children and families deserve.
One of our biggest learnings from this research project was to ensure we are continuing to think about tomorrow and how we can be better than yesterday. Our commitment to improvement must continue to be rich, meaningful and purposeful, so that we are always delivering the very best outcomes for the children in our care.
What was also interesting was the realisation that change was needed from an organisational level to make quality improvement happen, but ensuring we continue to set and maintain the highest of standards is essential.
We’d like to extend a big thank you to Professor Susan Irvine and the research team for the privilege of being involved in this research, and for the opportunity to reflect on how we can continue to deliver the very best care, quality value and service to our families.
At Busy Bees, our mission is to give every child the best start in life, and we really believe we are doing that.