Quality Area 3 - Physical environment

The aim of Quality Area 3 under the National Quality Standard is to ensure that the physical environment is safe, suitable and provides a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children’s learning and development.

The way that the environment is designed, equipped and organised determines the way that the space and resources are used and has the potential to maximise children’s engagement and level of positive experience and inclusive relationships.

Educational program and practiceChildren's health and safetyPhysical environmentStaffing arrangementsRelationships with childrenBuilding partnerships with familiesEducational leadership and team building

Physical environment

Standard 3.1The design and location of the premises is appropriate for the operation of a service.
Element 3.1.1Outdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, furniture, equipment, facilities and resources are suitable for their purpose.
Element 3.1.2Premises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained.
Element 3.1.3Facilities are designed or adapted to ensure access and participation by every child in the service and to allow flexible use, and interaction between indoor and outdoor space.
Standard 3.2The environment is inclusive, promotes competence, independent exploration and learning through play.
Element 3.2.1Outdoor and indoor spaces are designed and organised to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.
Element 3.2.2Resources, materials and equipment are sufficient in number, organised in ways that ensure appropriate and effective implementation of the program and allow for multiple uses.
Standard 3.3The service takes an active role in caring for its environment and contributes to a sustainable future.
Element 3.3.1Sustainable practices are embedded in service operations.
Element 3.3.2Children are supported to become environmentally responsible and show respect for the environment.


Read about the other quality areas here.

Additional information about the quality area, standards and elements can be found in the Guide to the National Quality Standard.


Quality Area 3 resources:

Embedding sustainability

Quality Area 3-The environment as the third teacher

Planning cycle- 3 part blog series

Environment makeover

NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network

Which bin does this belong in? Pages 12- 14

NQS PLP Opportunities for learning in natural spaces

Building sustainability from the start

Talking about practice: embedding sustainable practices

Sustainability resources

Nature benefits for children

Australian Association for Environmental Education

Design and Use

Create the perfect play space: Learning environments for young children

Indoor and outdoor environment

Talking about practice - environments for belonging, being and becoming

Talking about practice: environments for learning

Connecting with young children and nature

Ideas to actions - Environment makeover


Standards Australia

What are the consequences of limited play?

Supporting indoor and outdoor play

Physical environment

Creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for all children

EYLF PLP Outdoor learning spaces

EYLF PLP - spaces for children

The physical environment and children's wellbeing

An environment for learning

EYLF PLP Indoor learning spaces

Supporting children to become environmentally responsible

Quality Area 3-Keeping pets in education and care services

ECA - Natural play in your environment

Beyond recycling and veggie gardens

Little Green Steps case study

Connecting with practice - working in a community garden

More than just a vegie patch: sustainability and sustainable practices in early childhood education

A green thumbs up to sustainable programs

Greening services: practical sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Taking an active role in the environment and promoting a sustainable future

Sustainability and intentional teaching in early childhood