The National Quality Standard

The National Quality Framework delivers better quality early childhood education and care for all Australian children attending long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and preschool.

Services covered by the National Quality Framework will be assessed and rated against the National Regulations and each of the seven Quality Areas of the National Quality Standard. They will also be given an overall rating.

The National Quality Standard aims to promote:

  • the safety, health and wellbeing of children
  • a focus on achieving outcomes for children through high-quality educational programs
  • families' understanding of what distinguishes a quality service

The National Quality Standard comprises of seven quality areas, 18 standards and 58 elements.

Seven Quality Areas and their key focus
Quality Areas Key Focus
Educational program and practice The approved provider and nominated supervisor of an education and care service are responsible for ensuring that a suitable program based on an approved learning framework is designed to take into account the individual differences of each child, is delivered to all children.
This quality area focuses on ensuring the educational program and practice is stimulating, engaging and enhances children’s learning and development.
In school age care services, the program nurtures the development of life skills and complements children’s experiences, opportunities and relationships at school, at home and in the community.
Children’s health and safety The approved provider and other persons have responsibility for supporting the health, protection, safety and wellbeing of all children. These persons must take reasonable care to protect children from foreseeable risk of harm, injury and infection.
Physical environment The physical environment plays a critical role in keeping children safe; reducing the risk of unintentional injuries; contributing to their wellbeing, happiness, creativity and developing independence; and determining the quality of children’s learning and experiences.
The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that the premises, all equipment and furniture used in providing education and care services are safe, clean and in good repair to provide a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children’s learning and development.
Staffing arrangements It is the role of approved providers, nominated supervisors, educators, co-ordinators and staff members to establish effective and ethical practices in the service. Sound philosophy guides decision making, including determining appropriate staff numbers and deployment of suitable qualified and experienced educators, co-ordinates and nominated supervisors who are able to develop warm, respectful relationships with children, create safe and predictable environments and encourage children’s active engagement in the learning program.
Relationships with children The approved provider of an education and care service must take reasonable steps to ensure that children being educated and cared for by the service are provided with opportunities to interact and develop respectful and positive relationships with each other and with the staff members. The relationships with children are responsive and respectful, and promote children’s sense of security and belonging. Relationships of this kind free children to explore the environment and engage in play and learning.
Collaborative partnerships with families and communities Learning outcomes are most likely achieved when educators work in partnership with families and communities. Effective collaboration established by the service is fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children and community partnerships. When nominated supervisors, educators and coordinators develop links, share information and work in collaboration with other community organisations, the best outcomes are achieved for children and families using the service.
Leadership and service management The effective leadership and management of a service that creates a positive organisation culture in empowering others by listening, recognising and addressing potential conflict and change process that contributes to quality environments for the children’s learning and development. The service's ongoing commitment to continuous improvement and having well documented policies and procedures, well maintained records, shared values, clear direction and reflective practices enable the service to function as a learning community.

Rating levels

Under the new rating system there are five ratings available against each Quality Area, it is recognised that each rating represents a band of quality. A service will receive a rating for each of the Quality Areas and an overall rating. The rating levels and descriptions are:

Rating Description
Excellent Indicates that a service demonstrates excellence and is recognised as a sector leader
Exceeding National Quality Standard Indicates that a service is exceeding the National Quality Standard
Meeting National Quality Standard Indicates that a service is meeting the National Quality Standard
Working towards National Quality Standard Indicates that a service is working towards the National Quality Standard
Significant Improvement Required Indicates that a service is not meeting the National Quality Standard and the regulator is working closely with the service to immediately improve its quality (otherwise the service’s approval to operate will be withdrawn)

If a service is rated below the National Quality Standard in any Quality Area, the overall rating will reflect that lowest rating. The National Regulations explain how the overall rating is determined.

The frequency of reassessment is based on the spread of ratings across the seven Quality Areas rather than the overall rating. A general guide to the frequency of assessment can be accessed through ACECQA - Information on Assessment and Ratings.

For a service to be considered for an Excellent rating they are required to apply to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority is responsible for ensuring consistency in assessment and ratings across Australia, assessing services applying for Excellent ratings and creating awareness in the sector and community about the assessment and rating process.

More information about the National Quality Framework and National Quality Standards is available on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website.

Last updated: