Adequate supervision: a regulatory priority for 2023-24
Adequate supervision is a regulatory priority for South Australian services in 2023-24 and will be monitored by the Education Standards Board and considered during applications and service amendments.
Our regulatory priorities and targets were released in December of 2022, and were discussed in our February early childhood regulatory forum which you can watch.
What does adequate supervision look like?
There are resources available from ACECQA to support services and providers to understand adequate supervision and to provide guidance on how to achieve it.
It is necessary for educators to be alert and aware of risks and hazards and the potential for accidents and injury, not only in their immediate location but throughout the service or environment. To provide effective supervision, educators need to be conscious of the physical environment and be attuned to the needs of children.
Staff ratios are minimum requirements; there are many other factors to consider in relation to sufficient staffing to meet supervision requirements. Careful planning of rosters can help ensure that educators are always available to respond to children.
The Guide to the NQF details the requirements of adequate supervision from page 366, Quality Area 2: Children’s health and safety. You are encouraged to read this section and the National Law and consider how you can effectively apply the guidance in the specific circumstances of your service.
Implementation of supervision plans and risk assessments is key
Supervision plans and risk assessments can greatly assist in ensuring children are adequately supervised at all times, but it is essential that these plans are not simply ‘pieces of paper’, these must be implemented in practice.
Adequate supervision is a priority that we will consider in all our regulatory activity. For example, you can expect that if a service requests amendment to the number of children on the service approval, the regulatory authority will require a revised supervision plan and risk assessment showing how all children will be adequately supervised.
The development and implementation of supervision plans and risk assessments is something all educators should be part of. This helps to ensure that educators understand why a plan is in place and they become accountable and aware of what is required of them.
Who is responsible for adequate supervision?
The approved provider, nominated supervisor and family day care educator must ensure all children being educated and cared for by the service are adequately supervised at all times, including during excursions and on transportation provided or arrange by the service. Section 165 of the National Law states that it is an offence to inadequately supervise children.
Ensuring health and safety of children is an objective of the NQF
Parents enroll their children into a service with an expectation that they will be kept safe and yet, from incidents reported to us and there may be many more incidents which were not reported, the data shows 312 incidents involving missing or unaccounted for children in 2022.
When children are missing for any period of time, even five minutes, this fails to align with the objective of the National Quality Framework to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services.
Our data shows that most common incidents relating to inadequate supervision in South Australia include when a child in an education and care service is missing, unaccounted for or has been mistakenly locked in or out of a service.
These incidents often occur at transition times:
between indoor and outdoor spaces
from room to room within the service
in and out of bathrooms.
Locations where educators, nominated supervisors and staff should be particularly vigilant include bathrooms, hallways and foyers, and outside, fences, school grounds and play equipment, in particular cubby houses.
Effective programming and guidance can help to engage children
When children are highly engaged with learning and play this supports provision of adequate supervision. When children attempt to egress the service, this should prompt reflection on the program and experiences being provided and how these can be tailored to meet the needs, interests and contexts of the children attending.
Approved providers and nominated supervisors should ensure educators are trained appropriately to support individual children’s needs. Behaviour guidance strategies should be understood by educators and implemented effectively and educators should be fully aware of supervision policies, procedures and plans.
Guide to the NQF, page 366 QA2 Children’s Health and Safety, 2.1 Adequate supervision
Guidance sheet – Factors to consider when planning for adequate supervision