National Quality Standard

The National Quality Standard (NQS) is a key aspect of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and sets a high, national benchmark for early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care services in Australia.

It gives services and families a better understanding of a quality service, helping families to make informed decisions about the services providing education and care to their child. The NQS brings together the 7 key quality areas that are important to outcomes for children.

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Leadership and service management

The NQS contains 18 standards with two or three standards in each quality area. These standards are high-level outcome statements. Under each standard sit elements that describe the outcomes that contribute to the standard being achieved. There are 58 elements in total.

Assessment and rating of services

Services are assessed and rated by their regulatory authority against the NQS, and given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas and an overall rating based on these results. 

Find out more on the assessment and rating process and quality ratings.

Quality ratings of assessed services are published on the national registers and on the Starting Blocks website.

National learning frameworks

The NQS is linked to national learning frameworks that recognise children learn from birth. Services are required to base their educational program on an approved learning framework. The national learning frameworks are: