Quality in Action has been developed to assist management and educators in early childhood services to implement the 1996 revised Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices. The Desirable Objectives and Practices (DOPs) convey Government’s expectations of the standard of education and care that early childhood services provide. Implementing the DOPs is mandatory for all chartered services in New Zealand. The statement of the DOPs is the only mandatory component of Quality in Action.
Government recognises that early childhood education contributes to society in many ways and provides educational, social, and cultural benefits for all New Zealanders. Quality early childhood education lays the foundation for children’s later learning, through an enriching environment that facilitates the development of cognitive skills. Early childhood education contributes to the development of self-esteem, as children gain understandings of their emotions and establish the basis for relating to others. It also influences the early nutritional habits and general health of children, and it plays an important role in the formation of their fundamental attitudes and values.
Along with the learning of children, early childhood education supports families or whānau in their ongoing learning about children’s growth and development. In addition, it is one of the ways by which social and cultural values are reinforced and passed on to the next generation. Therefore, the quality of early childhood education today influences the well-being of citizens and society in the future.
Government’s requirements for quality in early childhood education are embodied in the charter of every early childhood service (see pages 60–62). This is because the DOPs are deemed to be part of every charter, whether they are stated or not. The charter therefore constitutes an undertaking by the management of a service to provide quality education and care that meet the standards specified in the DOPs.
Management is responsible for ensuring that all the requirements of the DOPs are met, and management and educators are together responsible for determining how they are met. Management develops and provides a service in collaboration with educators and parents/whānau. The management and operation of the service, and the curriculum that results, determine the quality of the service, which is reflected in the outcomes for children’s learning and development.
Quality in Action reflects the most up-to-date knowledge we have on children’s learning and development and on management theory and practice. It recognises that learning is a complex process fundamentally controlled by the learner and assisted or facilitated by others who are more competent and often more powerful. Quality in Action acknowledges that how and what a child learns depends on the child’s health and well-being, prior knowledge and experience, conceptual framework, and motivation and that the unique combination of these factors determines the child’s expectations and shapes learning outcomes.
Quality in Action indicates different ways in which management and educators might meet the requirements of the revised DOPs. It outlines sound educational and management practices for all New Zealand early childhood education services, regardless of their individual philosophies and emphases. There are many ways to achieve quality in early childhood education. This document acknowledges this by:
- recognising and valuing diversity – within individual early childhood services, throughout the early childhood sector, and in society as a whole; and
- empowering services to develop effective self-management systems in keeping with their particular needs and circumstances.
The only mandatory component of Quality in Action is the 1996 revised statement of the DOPs. The supporting text, scenarios, signposts, and reflective questions are not intended to provide an all-encompassing guide to interpreting and implementing every aspect of the DOPs. To do so would restrict the flexibility, diversity, and professionalism of early childhood services in New Zealand. Rather, Quality in Action has been written with the objective of encouraging management and educators to use their professional judgment about the best way to implement the DOPs. At the same time, they should ensure that their approaches are consistent with the examples of quality standards given in this document.
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