Guide to the NQF

The Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) is designed to help education and care providers, educators and authorised officers understand and apply the requirements of the NQF.

The Guide is not legal advice and should be read in conjunction with the National Law and Regulations, which take precedence over any guidance.

How to use the Guide

The Guide provides information for all types of service in all states and territories. It is not intended to be read from cover to cover, nor is all of the information within it relevant to every service. Rather, it has been designed as a comprehensive reference document to be referred to when seeking guidance on particular matters, such as applications and approvals, operational requirements, and the National Quality Standard.

 

The Guide has also been designed as an online PDF document and will be updated as required. Any changes to the Guide will be added at the bottom of this page.

Along with ensuring that you will always be referring to the latest version of the Guide, another benefit of using the online PDF is that it enables you to quickly and easily search for content by key word(s).

Accessing the Guide

Download your copy:

Changes to the Guide 

This Guide will be regularly updated with additional advice and improved guidance.

To ensure you have the most up to date information we suggest you always view the online version. Any changes to the Guide will be added to the below table.

Download a print-friendly summary of the 2020 regulation amendments

Download a print-friendly copy of the table of changes

Release dateChapterSection/sSummary of change
Feb-24ThroughoutThroughoutUpdating of existing wording and new text regarding changes to the NQG, fees and the national Approved Learning Frameworks V2.0. From 1 February 2024 the original versions of both frameworks will no longer be approved for use under the NQF.
Oct-23ThroughoutThroughoutUpdating of existing wording and new text regarding changes to the NQF taking effect from 1 October 2023 and regarding the refreshed approved learning frameworks.
Jul-23ThroughoutThroughoutUpdating of existing wording and new text regarding changes to the NQF taking effect from 1 July 2023.
Mar-23

3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating

4: Operational Requirements

All

Throughout

Updating of existing wording and new text regarding new transportation requirements for centre-based services from 1 March 2023 from page 168 and from page 388.

New text and hyperlinks regarding the updated national approved learning frameworks. Services may use Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia Version 2.0 and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia Version 2.0 from 2023 onwards. The original versions of both frameworks will be revoked from 1 February 2024.

Updating of existing wording and new text regarding notice of an assessment and rating visit on page 322 and partial reassessments on page 329.

May-223: National Quality StandardAll StandardsAmendment of hyperlinks at pages 141, 178, 204, 226, 250, 279 and 313.
March-224: Operational Requirements4.2 – Educator QualificationsAmendment of existing wording at pages 413, 414 , 416, 418, 419 and 420. 
Sept-203: National Quality Standard1 – Exceeding NQS theme guidanceThe general Exceeding guidance, previously found on pages 331-336, has been moved to pages 93-99, and some edits made including the insertion of questions that are used by authorised officers to establish Exceeding NQS practice.
Sept-203: National Quality StandardAll standards

In the Exceeding guidance for each Standard found on pages 114, 126, 141, 163, 178, 190, 204, 217, 226, 240, 250, 266, 279, 299 and 313, former Exceeding indicators for assessors have been reworded into reflective questions for services.

The guidance also directs readers to the bank of Exceeding case studies available on ACECQA’s Exceeding the NQS web page.

Sept-20

2: Applications and Approvals

3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating

4: Operational Requirements

5: Regulatory Authority Powers

7: Glossary

Throughout

Updating of existing wording and insertion of new text at pages 37, 156, 166, 168-170, 173, 295, 360, 361, 363-5, 379, 381-6, 388, 438, 454, 456, 577, and 631.

These changes relate to the introduction of new regulatory requirements for transportation of children outside an excursion, including a requirement for policies and procedures, risk assessments and written authorisations – regulations 168(2)(ga) and 102B-D.

The new regulations are now included at page 168 under Element 2.2.1: Supervision.

A new section 2.14: Transportation was added at pages 382-5.

A new section 2.15: Other important factors relating to the safe transportation of children was added at pages 385-6.

The new regulations are now included at page 388 under 2:16 Responsibilities of the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor and Family Day Care Educator; at page 454 under 7.1: Policies and Procedures; and at page 577 under Attachment B: Summary of Offences under the National Regulations.

A minor change was made to the definition of ‘regular outing’ at page 631.

A new definition of ‘regular transportation’ was inserted at page 631.

Existing Part 2.13: Excursions at pages 380- 2 was also updated to include references to new regulatory requirements for transportation of children during an excursion – regulations 100(2)(d) and 102(4).

Sept-20

3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating

4: Operational Requirements

4.1.1 – Organisation of educators

 

4.4 – Educator to child ratios

 

4.2.3 – Qualification requirements for centre-based services with children preschool age or under

Deletion of references to Regulations 322 and 323 on pages 212 – as they are repealed – bringing South Australia in line with national requirements for educator to child ratios at centre-based services under Regulation 123(1)(c).

Deletion of the reference to a saving provision in South Australia at page 429 (see above).

 

Addition of text at page 418 clarifying that an existing three-month probationary period for new educators working without an approved qualification under Regulation 126(1A) now applies in South Australia

Sept-204: Operational Requirements3.16 – Assessment of family day care residences and approved family day care venuesAddition of text at page 401 clarifying that a family day care educator need not reside at the residence from which they provide education and care.
Sept-204: Operational Requirements7.4 – Management of recordsAddition of text at pages 475-6 clarifying the requirements for public liability insurance minimum cover under Regulations 29 and 30.
Sept-20

3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating

4: Operational Requirements

ThroughoutAddition of references to Educational Leader Resource and Self-Assessment tool
Sept-20AllThroughout
Fixed typos, updated titling etc. – 1, 3, 92, 95, 97, 169, 416, 417, 473.
 
92-371 – chapter name update from Guide to National Quality Standard to National Quality Standard.
 
93-315 – Capitalise Standard as required.
Jan-204: Operational RequirementsQuality Area 4: Staffing arrangements and mainly 4.1 – 4.5Amended sections on requirement for second ECT or ‘suitably qualified person’ in centre-based services with 60 or more preschool age or younger children
Jan-202: Applications and Approvals1.1 - Application for provider approvalFurther clarification of approved providers who are not individuals and persons with management and control
    

 

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ACECQA values your feedback on the Guide to the NQF to ensure the information is accurate and helpful.

Your feedback and suggestions will help us to refine this product. Email our Sector Information Services Team at [email protected].

Icons legend

 

National Law and Regulations
Sections of the Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) or regulations from the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations).

 

Centre-based service
An education and care service other than a family day care service which includes most long day care, preschool and outside school hours care services that are delivered at a centre.

 

Birth to three
Children birth to three years of age.

 

Offence
Offences against the National Law that attract a penalty, for example a fine.

 

Family day care service
An education and care service that is delivered through the use of two or more educators to provide education and care to children and operates from two or more residences.

 

School age children
Includes children attending school in the year before grade 1, and above.

 

Sight
Authorised officers will sight documentation provided as evidence to support particular practices at the service (for example, records of attendance, enrolment records, policies and procedures, meeting minutes, safety checklists, newsletters, photos, collections of children’s work and documentation of child assessments or evaluations).

 

Observe
Authorised officers will observe what children, families, educators, co-ordinators and staff members are doing (for example, engaging in caring, friendly and respectful interactions).

 

Discuss
Authorised officers will discuss why and how particular practices occur at the service, with the approved provider, nominated supervisor, educators, co-ordinators, family day care educators, assistants or staff members.
  State icons
 TAS   WA    NSW    SA    QLD   NT    VIC    ACT  Information that is specific to a state or territory.

 

Section 1: Introduction

Purpose of guide

This guide aims to support education and care service providers, authorised officers and other regulatory authority staff understand the requirements under the National Quality Framework (NQF).

The guide should always be read with the Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations). It is not legal advice, and the National Law and Regulations take precedence over any material in this guide. Education and care services located in Western Australia must check state specific regulatory references.

The guide is regularly reviewed and updated by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) in consultation with regulatory authorities and the Australian Government. Updates are published on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

This guide sometimes suggests other sources of information which readers may find useful.

The National Quality Framework

The NQF was the result of an agreement between all Australian governments to work together to provide better educational and developmental outcomes for children.

The NQF introduced a new quality standard in 2012 to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside school hours care services.

The NQF aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in children’s education and care services through:

  • the National Law and National Regulations
  • the National Quality Standard
  • an assessment and quality rating process
  • national approved learning frameworks
  • a regulatory authority in each state and territory responsible for the approval, monitoring and quality assessment of services in their state or territory
  • a national body – ACECQA, which guides the implementation of the NQF and works with regulatory authorities.

The delivery of the NQF is guided by set objectives and guidelines to ensure consistent and effective function. 

 

The National Quality Framework
The objectives of the NQF are to:
  • ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
  • improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services
  • promote continuous improvement in the provision of quality education and care services
  • establish a system of national integration and shared responsibility between participating jurisdictions and the Commonwealth in the administration of the National Quality Framework
  • improve public knowledge, and access to information, about the quality of education and care services
  • reduce the regulatory and administrative burden for education and care services by enabling information to be shared between participating jurisdictions and the Commonwealth.

The guiding principles of the NQF are as follows:

The rights and best interests of the child are paramount

The NQF aligns with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. This treaty ensures that children have the right to be heard, to be free from violence, abuse and neglect, to have the opportunity to thrive, to be engaged in civics and citizenship and opportunities to take action and be accountable. A rights-based approach to delivering education and care means understanding these rights and implementing practice which reflects them.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Reponses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended all institutions working with children should implement the National Child Safe Principles. The National Child Safe Principles are embedded throughout the NQF, and speak to an organisational culture that fosters child safety, wellbeing and cultural safety within physical and online environments. A child focused approach takes action to promote child wellbeing and prevent harm to children and young people in all aspects of service operation.

Children are successful, competent and capable learners

The NQF views all children as capable learners who actively construct their own understandings and contribute to others’ learning. It recognises children’s agency, capacity to initiate and lead learning, and their rights to participate in decisions that affect them, including their learning.

Viewing children as active participants and decision makers opens up possibilities for educators to move beyond pre-conceived expectations about what children can achieve. This requires educators to respect and work with each child’s unique qualities and abilities.

Equity, inclusion and diversity underpin the framework

The NQF recognises all children’s capacity and right to succeed regardless of diverse circumstances, cultural background and abilities. Inclusion is acknowledged as an approach where diversity is celebrated. It requires educators to hold high expectations for the learning, development and wellbeing of all children, recognising that every child treads an individual learning path and will progress in different and equally meaningful ways.

In recognising each child’s experience of learning and development, educators implement responsive, equitable, individualised opportunities, additional support and reasonable adjustments if barriers to success are identified.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued

The NQF is underpinned by a commitment to ‘Closing the Gap’ and acknowledges Australia is a nation of great diversity, and an ancient land that has been cared for by Indigenous Australians for many thousands of years. Education and care services have a shared responsibility to contribute to building a better society and sustainable environment and to support children, families, colleagues and the local community to understand, respect and value diversity. Educators take every opportunity to extend children’s understanding of their local context and of their wider world. Educators respectfully engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to explore how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the philosophy of the setting, their planning and implementation of curriculum. Through all aspects of their practice, educators challenge stereotyping and bias. They find sensitive and respectful ways to negotiate tensions that may arise, for instance, because of differing values, beliefs and expectations within the local context of the service, and between the local context and the broader contexts of Australian society.

The role of parents and families is respected and supported

The NQF acknowledges a view of children in the context of their family and community, that families are children’s first and most influential teachers. It is envisaged that education and care services will actively seek out partnerships and develop secure respectful relationships to ensure that families are informed, consulted and supported in regards to their child’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Best practice is expected in the provision of education and care services

Inherent within the NQF is a commitment to continuous improvement and striving for best practice underpins this commitment. While the NQF does not prescribe what best practice looks like, it encourages education and care services to draw on a range of current research, theory and understandings about early and middle childhood. This can provide educators with an understanding of best and most suitable practice in the unique and changing context of their service.

The National Law and National Regulations

The Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) apply to most long day care, family day care, kindergarten/preschool and outside school hours care services in Australia. The law and regulations detail the operational and legal requirements for an education and care service.

The National Quality Standard

The National Quality Standard (NQS) is part of the National Regulations.

The NQS sets a national benchmark for the quality of education and care services and includes seven quality areas that are important to outcomes for children:

QA1Educational program and practice
QA2Children’s health and safety
QA3Physical environment
QA4Staffing arrangements
QA5Relationships with children
QA6Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
QA7Governance and leadership

The NQS contains two or three standards in each quality area. These standards are high-level outcome statements. Under each standard are elements that describe the outcomes that contribute to the standard being achieved. Each standard and element is represented by a concept that support education and care services to navigate and reflect on the NQS.

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 seven quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.

The quality ratings are published on the national registers on the ACECQA website (www.acecqa.gov.au) and on the Starting Blocks website (www.startingblocks.gov.au).

Approved learning frameworks

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

The delivery of the NQF is guided by set objectives and guidelines to ensure consistent and effective function. 

There is also a jurisdiction-specific approved learning framework in Victoria. The delivery of the NQF is guided by set objectives and guidelines to ensure consistent and effective

Governance arrangements under the NQF

Ministerial Council
The Ministerial Council is made up of the Australian Government and state and territory government ministers responsible for education, including early childhood education and care. The Ministerial Council:
  • reviews and approves the NQS, rating level system, and learning frameworks
  • approves changes to the National Law and Regulations
  • appoints members of the ACECQA Board.

 

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority
ACECQA is a statutory authority which guides and monitors the implementation and administration of the NQF to promote consistency across all states and territories. ACECQA:
  • approves qualifications for people who work in education and care services
  • trains, tests and provides resources to state and territory regulatory authority authorised officers
  • awards the Excellent rating
  • undertakes second tier reviews of quality ratings
  • hosts the National Quality Agenda IT System
  • publishes guides and other resources
  • publishes the national registers of approved providers and services (including their quality rating).

 

State/territory based regulatory authorities
Regulatory authorities have day-to-day contact with education and care providers and services and:
  • grant all approvals, including provider and service approvals
  • assess and quality rate services against the NQS and the National Regulations
  • monitor and enforce compliance with the National Law and Regulations, including receive and investigate serious incidents and complaints
  • work with ACECQA to promote continuous quality improvement and educate the sector and community about the NQF.

Section 2: Applications and Approvals

Provider and service approvals

There are two main approval processes:

  • Provider approval – a person may apply to obtain a provider approval, which is ongoing and recognised nationally.  A person who has applied for a provider approval may also apply for a service approval to operate one or more services.
  • Service approval – each service operated by an approved provider requires service approval. Service approvals relate to the individual site/premises and the type of care provided.

This section explains how applications are made and processed.

1. Provider approval

National Law, Section 103 ].

A person must have provider approval to operate an education and care service under the National Law and Regulations.

Regulatory authorities are responsible for assessing and determining provider approval applications.

1.1 Application for provider approval

National Law, Sections 10, 11, 12 ] 

 WA  An individual, body corporate, eligible association, partnership or prescribed entity may apply to be an approved provider. See the Glossary for the meaning of these terms.

 

The application must include all information listed in the National Regulations and payment of the set fee. See Application checklists – Tables I, II and Fees.

Applications by individuals

The application must be sent to the regulatory authority in the state or territory where the applicant/s live.

Applications by non-individuals

When an applicant is not an individual, section 12(2)(b) of the National Law requires the applicant to satisfy the regulatory authority that the applicant is a fit and proper person to be involved in the provision of an education and care service.

When assessing the fitness and propriety of a non-individual applicant for provider approval, regulatory authorities may assess all members of the applicant entity for fitness and propriety, regardless of whether the person is determined by the approved provider to be a person with management or control.

Persons with management or control of an education and care service

When an applicant is not an individual, section 12(2)(a) of the National Law requires the applicant to satisfy the regulatory authority that each person who will be a person with management or control at the service is a fit and proper person.

A non-individual applicant for provider approval can include:

  • a corporate body (this includes an incorporated association, statutory corporation, etc.)
  • unincorporated associations (for example, a cooperative)
  • partnerships, and
  • government bodies. 

An application by a non-individual applicant must be sent to the regulatory authority in the state or territory where the applicant’s principal office is located (or where any of the applicants’ principal offices are located if there is more than one). 

National Law, Section 5A ]

Who is a person with management or control? 

The persons who meet the definition of person with management or control will differ, depending on the structure of the entity intending to become an approved provider.

If the intending provider is a body corporate – a person with management or control is each officer of the body corporate (within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth) who has authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over, the planning, direction or control of the activities or the delivery of the service.

If the intending provider is an eligible association – a person with management or control is each member of the executive committee of the association who has authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over, the planning, direction or control of the activities or the delivery of the service.

If the intending provider is a partnership – a person with management or control is each partner who has authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over, the planning, direction or control of the activities or the delivery of the service. 

A person with management or control may also be any other person who is a member of the group of persons responsible for the executive decisions made in relation to the service, or who has authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over, the planning, direction or control of the activities or delivery of the service, is also a person with management or control.

See the Glossary for the complete definition of Person with Management or Control under the National Law.

In this context, ‘management or control’ refers to the executive, management, financial and/or business decisions made by, or on behalf of, the approved provider – in relation to delivery of an education and care service. A person with management or control refers to a person who has the responsibility, alone or with others, to make, or participate in making, decisions that affect the business of the entity or who has the capacity to significantly influence the entity’s financial standing.

For companies, this will generally include directors, and for committees and associations, it will usually include executive members or office bearers. It may also include persons in senior management roles within the approved provider or entity, or a person or company engaged by the approved provider to operate the service on its behalf. Examples include a state manager, chief financial officer, quality manager, or another person who has the power to direct a centre manager or a nominated supervisor.

While a person such as a centre manager or a nominated supervisor may have ‘day-to-day charge’ of a service, they may not be a person with management or control if they do not make decisions, or participate in decision-making, of the kind described here.

To assess the fitness and propriety of a non-individual applicant for provider approval, regulatory authorities should assess all members of the applicant entity for fitness and propriety, regardless of whether the person is determined by the approved provider to be a person with management or control.

Members of the applicant entity include company directors, executive members of an association, and partners of a partnership.

In some circumstances, an officer of an approved provider entity may not be a person with management or control. For example, a company director or an executive committee member may not fit the definition of person with management or control if, in their role, they do not have authority, responsibility or significant influence for, or control over the delivery of, an education and care service.

In these circumstances, the officer or member of the approved provider entity can expressly indicate in writing to the regulatory authority that they will not have management or control of the service. The regulatory authority has the discretion to determine whether the officer meets the definition of persons with management or control.

If the application for provider approval is granted, it is an offence under section 173 of the National Law for the approved provider to fail to notify the regulatory authority of any appointment or removal of a person with management or control of any service operated by the provider. This offence may attract a $4,000 penalty if the approved provider is an individual, or $20,000 if the approved provider is not an individual.

Note: A trust is not a legal entity and therefore cannot hold property or enter into contractual arrangements. For example, a trust cannot hold a provider approval. A trustee can apply for and hold a provider approval, as an individual or body corporate.
Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au. The National Regulations do not specify what type of documentation is required as proof of identity when applying, and do not require applicants to submit 100 points of identity or certified copies of their documentation. The regulatory authority may request certified copies if it is concerned about the authenticity of documents included in an application.

Incomplete applications

The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is 'valid', meaning complete with all prescribed information.

If an application does not include all prescribed information the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid and either request missing information be provided within a set timeframe, or close the invalid application.

The National Law does not specify how much time applicants have to provide this information once requested by a regulatory authority. Regulatory authorities will set timeframes taking into consideration:

  • the amount and complexity of the information requested
  • the applicant’s capacity to provide information in that timeframe
  • whether a timeframe applies to when the applicant must submit the application.

Regulatory authorities must keep records of incomplete applications. The State Records Act 1998 (NSW) applies to all states and territories for the purposes of the National Law and Regulations except to the extent that the National Law applies to a regulatory authority and the records of a regulatory authority (section 265).

Generally, the regulatory authority will not complete applications on behalf of applicants using the information held on file as this information could be out of date. Procedural fairness issues could arise if information is taken into account without the knowledge of the applicant.

Timeframe for assessing an application

National Law, Sections 14, 15 ]

The regulatory authority must make a decision within 60 calendar days of receiving a complete application.

If more information is requested, the time taken to provide additional information is not included in the 60-day period. This includes if the regulatory authority requires the applicant to undergo an oral or written assessment. If this occurs, the time taken from the point of the invitation to undergo that assessment, through to the result of that assessment being made available to the regulatory authority, is not included in the 60 day period.

If the applicant agrees, the 60-day period (not including any time taken to provide additional information or to carry out a knowledge assessment) may be extended by up to 30 calendar days.

If a decision is not made within 60 calendar days, the application is taken to be refused.

The regulatory authority must give the applicant written notice of its decision and the supporting reasons, within seven (7) calendar days of making the decision.

Calculating time

National Law, Sections 15, 16 ]

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

When calculating the timeframe, the day the application is received is excluded. If the timeframe is expressed in the legislation in terms of a number of days, the last day of that timeframe is also excluded. ‘Day’ means calendar day. For example, a regulatory authority must make a decision on a provider approval application within 60 days after the application is received (see section 15). If the regulatory authority receives the application on 1 March, the 60-day timeframe commences on 2 March and runs until the end of 1 May. 1 March is excluded from the calculation, and 30 April, the 60th day, is also excluded.

If the last day of the timeframe falls on a non-business day, the next business day will be the last day. Using the example above, if 1 May is a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the regulatory authority’s decision will be due the first working day after 1 May.

1.2 Considering an application for fitness and propriety

When reviewing an application for provider approval, the regulatory authority will consider:

  • if the applicant is a fit and proper person to provide an education and care service
  • the applicant’s history of compliance or criminal history
  • whether the applicant is bankrupt or other financial or medical matters which may limit their capacity to meet their obligations under the National Law.

There may be other circumstances in which a person is considered not to be fit and proper.

Is the applicant a fit and proper person?

National Law, Section 12 ]

Provider approval will not be granted unless the regulatory authority is satisfied the applicant, and/or each person with management or control, is fit and proper to provide an education and care service.

The head of a government department administering an education law is taken to be a fit and proper person.

National Law, Sections 14–15 ]

The regulatory authority may ask the applicant for more information or make enquiries to assess whether they are fit and proper. This may be in relation to their history of compliance, criminal history or any other relevant matter. Regulatory authorities may require the applicant and/or persons with management or control to undergo an oral or written assessment of the person’s knowledge of the NQF. If more information is requested or the applicant is required to undertake an assessment, the time taken to fulfill the request or for the result of that assessment being made available to the regulatory authority is not included in the period for determining the application.

National Law, Section 25 ]

Refusal or cancellation of provider approval under the Commonwealth Family Assistance Law (FAL) is grounds for suspension or cancellation of a provider approval under the National Law where the FAL refusal or cancellation relates to fitness and propriety or a breach of the NQF. For example, if FAL approval has been cancelled because of non-compliance with a law of the Commonwealth, the regulatory authority may decide to cancel the provider's approval under the National Law. 

If the regulatory authority obtains information from a source other than from the applicant and is considering making a decision that will adversely affect the applicant, principles of natural justice must be taken into account. Decisions that adversely affect a person include refusing to grant provider approval or granting provider approval subject to conditions. For more information (see Good Regulatory Practice – Good decision-making).

It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify each individual who will be in management or control (see Glossary). For companies, this will generally include directors, and for committees and associations it will usually include executive members. Generally, a person with management or control is someone:

  • who makes, or participates in making, decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of the business of the entity; or

  • has the capacity to affect significantly the entity’s financial standing.

Therefore, while a person – such as a centre manager or nominated supervisor – may have ‘day to day charge’ of a service, they may not be a person with management or control of a provider.

History of compliance

National Law, Section 13 ]

When determining whether a person is fit and proper, the regulatory authority must consider:

  • the person’s history of compliance with any current or former education and care services law, children’s services law or education law
  • any decision made under a former education and care services law, a children’s services law or an education law of any state or territory to refuse, refuse to renew, suspend or cancel a provider approval, registration or certification issued to the person under that law.

If a person has been served with an infringement notice for an offence under the National Law and has paid the penalty, the offence cannot be taken into account when determining the person’s fitness and propriety (section 291).

The National Law does not specify a time period in relation to a person’s compliance history. When considering a person’s history of compliance the regulatory authority may consider:

Criminal history

National Law & Regulations, Section 13, Regulation 16 ]

Regulatory authorities must consider the person’s criminal history when determining whether they are fit and proper to be involved in providing an education and care service. Because working with children/vulnerable people legislation differs between states and territories, the National Law includes two options for considering a person’s criminal history, set out below.

Matters the regulatory authority must consider about criminal history

Option 1 Option 2

The regulatory authority must consider the below matters, to the extent that they may affect the person’s suitability to provide an education and care service:

  • any matters included in a criminal history check, and
  • if there is a working with children law:
    • whether the person has a current working with children check or card, or
    • whether the person is a registered teacher under an education law in their state or territory.
The regulatory authority must consider the person’s working with vulnerable people check.

In some instances, a check may show information about a person’s criminal history that is not relevant to whether they are fit and proper. Regulatory authorities must not take into account irrelevant information which may lead to an unlawful decision (see Good Regulatory Practice – Good decision-making).

Working with children check legislation applies in all states and territories except for Tasmania. In Tasmania, registration to work with vulnerable people is required. See the table at the end of this section for details of screening units in each state and territory.

Financial matters

National Law, Section 13 ]

Regulatory authorities must consider whether the applicant is bankrupt or has applied to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors. In the case of a body corporate, the regulatory authority must consider whether the applicant is insolvent under administration or an externally-administered body corporate.

Regulatory authorities may also consider whether the applicant’s financial circumstances may limit their capacity to meet their obligations under the National Law.

Applicant is bankrupt or insolvent

If the applicant is bankrupt or insolvent according to their declaration, the regulatory authority may consider:

  • the period when bankruptcy is discharged
  • past circumstances and changes of circumstances
  • legal advice about whether the regulatory authority is bound by other law.

The National Personal Insolvency Index, maintained by the Australian Financial Security Authority (Australian Government), may have information about an applicant’s financial position and can be accessed at: www.afsa.gov.au.

Concerns about financial circumstances

Where there are concerns about an applicant’s financial circumstances, raised through the initial application, notification or other sources of information, the regulatory authority may ask an applicant to provide more information about their financial capacity, to determine the likelihood that they will be able to sustain ongoing operation of a service. For example, information about:

  • liquidity
  • cash flow
  • asset sustainability
  • capital structure and debt protection
  • operating efficiency.

Regulatory authorities may make inquiries for more information to determine if a person is fit and proper. This includes seeking additional information from an external expert, for example about the financial viability of an applicant to help assess the applicant’s financial capacity.

Although there is a duty of confidentiality (section 273), a regulatory authority can disclose information when assessing a provider approval application.

Medical conditions

National Law, Section 13 ]

The regulatory authority may consider whether the person has a medical condition that may limit their capacity to meet their obligations under the National Law.

Applicants are not required to provide medical information in their initial application. However, the regulatory authority can ask for additional information, such as an assessment by a medical practitioner if concerned about the applicant’s capacity. The regulatory authority will detail why the assessment is needed and give a description of the role, to guide the person doing the assessment. The regulatory authority may require a written report.

Management capability

The regulatory authority may consider whether the person has the management capability to operate an education and care service in accordance with the National Law and National Regulations.

Evidence of management capability does not need to relate only to education and care services, or qualifications in education and care. Evidence of management capability may be related to any previous expertise, experience or qualification in a leadership, governance, administrative or management role in:

  • a business, or
  • a not-for-profit organisation, or
  • a sporting or social club, or
  • a community-based committee.

This may include experience gained as a volunteer.

Actions taken under Family Assistance Law

In assessing an applicant's fitness and propriety, the regulatory authority may also take into account certain actions taken under Commonwealth Family Assistance Law (FAL), including sanctions and suspensions.

National Law, Section 25 ]

Refusal or cancellation of provider approval under the FAL is grounds for suspension or cancellation of a provider approval under the National Law, where the FAL refusal or cancellation relates to fitness and propriety or a breach of the NQF. 

Conditions on provider approval

National Law, Section 19 ]

A condition is a requirement that the person holding the approval must comply with to avoid committing an offence under the National Law.

A provider approval is granted subject to the condition that the approved provider complies with the National Law. It may also be granted subject to other conditions imposed. For example, if there are concerns about an applicant’s management capacity, the regulatory authority may limit the number of services or size of services the applicant can operate.

A condition applies to the provider unless the condition expressly provides otherwise.

See Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement – Conditions for more information about using conditions on a provider approval.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 16 ]

The regulatory authority must give the applicant written notice of its decision and the supporting reasons, within seven (7) calendar days of making the decision (see Timeframe for assessing an application).

Granting provider approval

National Law, Section 20, Schedule 1, Clause 31 ]

If granted, the regulatory authority must give the approved provider a copy of the provider approval, stating:

  • the name of the approved provider
  • if the approved provider is not an individual, the address of the principal office of the approved provider
  • any conditions to which the approval is subject (see Conditions on provider approval)
  • the date the provider approval was granted
  • the provider approval number.

The National Law does not specify how much time the regulatory authority has to give the approved provider a copy of the provider approval but it must be done as soon as possible.

Refusing to grant provider approval

National Law, Section 15 ]

The regulatory authority may refuse to grant provider approval if it is not satisfied that the grounds for granting provider approval are met and the applicant is fit and proper (see Considering an application).

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to refuse to grant a provider approval, or to grant provider approval subject to conditions, is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

After an application has been determined

Publication on the register of approved providers

National Law & Regulations, Sections 266, 270, Regulation 229 ]

ACECQA must keep and publish a register of approved providers which includes the information set out below.

The regulatory authority may publish the name of the approved provider.

Information on the register of approved providers

The name of the approved provider
The postal address of the approved provider
Any conditions on the approval
The date the provider approval was granted
The provider approval number
The service approval numbers of all education and care services provided by the approved provider.

Duration and effect of provider approval

National Law, Sections 17–18 ]    WA 

A provider approval authorises the holder to operate an approved education and care service and an associated children’s service. It is valid nationally and is ongoing unless cancelled or suspended by the regulatory authority, or surrendered by the approved provider.

In Western Australia, a provider approval granted to an individual is also ongoing until the individual dies.

Reassessing fitness and propriety

National Law, Sections 21, 25 ]

The regulatory authority may reassess the fitness and propriety of an approved provider or person with management or control at any time. The approved provider or person with management or control may be required to undergo an oral or written assessment of their knowledge of the NQF. If a person is no longer a fit and proper person, the provider approval may be suspended or cancelled (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement).

1.3 Amending provider approval on application

National Law & Regulations, Section 22, Regulation 17 ]

An approved provider may apply to the regulatory authority for an amendment to their provider approval. The application must be in writing and include:

  • the approved provider’s full name and provider approval number
  • the name and contact details for the application
  • details of the amendment applied for
  • sufficient information or documentation to support the application for amendment.

The National Law and Regulations do not specify the type or level of information needed to support an application for an amendment, however information must be sufficient for the regulatory authority to make a decision.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the required information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

Timeframe for assessing an application

A decision must be made within 30 calendar days of the regulatory authority receiving a complete application.

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31. An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering an application

National Law, Section 42 ]

The regulatory authority may only amend a provider approval after consulting with the regulatory authority of each jurisdiction where the provider operates an education and care service. This includes the regulatory authority which granted the provider approval. Failure to consult other regulatory authorities does not affect the validity of the regulatory authority’s decision.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 22 ]

Once the regulatory authority has received a complete application, it must decide to:

  • amend the provider approval in the way that was applied for; or
  • amend the provider approval in another way, with the applicant’s written approval; or
  • refuse the amendment of the provider approval.

An amendment may include a change to a condition of the provider approval or introduce a new condition.

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to refuse to amend a provider approval is a reviewable decision under the National Law. Refer to Reviews.

After approval has been amended

National Law, Section 24 ]

If the regulatory authority amends the approval, it must give the approved provider a copy. The regulatory authority must also make any necessary amendments to any service approval held by the approved provider and give the approved provider a copy.

The regulatory authority will record these amendments in the National Quality Agenda IT System. ACECQA will publish the national registers on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

1.4 Amending provider approval without application

National Law, Sections 23, 42 ]

The regulatory authority may amend a provider approval at any time, without application from the approved provider.

Amendment may include varying a condition on the provider approval or imposing a new condition.

The regulatory authority may only amend a provider approval after consulting with the regulatory authority of each jurisdiction where the provider operates an education and care service. This includes the regulatory authority which granted the provider approval. Failure to consult other regulatory authorities does not affect the validity of the regulatory authority’s decision.

After approval has been amended

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider written notice of the amendment.

Amendment without application takes effect 14 calendar days after the regulatory authority notifies the approved provider of the amendment, or at the end of another period specified by the regulatory authority.

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider a copy of the amended provider approval. It must also make any necessary amendments to any service approval held by the approved provider and give the approved provider a copy.

The regulatory authority will record these amendments in the National Quality Agenda IT System. ACECQA will publish the national registers on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to amend a provider approval is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

1.5 Determining an application for provider approval in case of death or incapacity of approved provider

National Law, Sections 39–40 ]

If an approved provider can no longer fulfil their role due to death or incapacity, a nominated executor, legal personal representative or guardian can be appointed, subject to meeting the requirements, as the approved provider.

The regulatory authority may receive an application from the executor for a provider approval.

If an approved provider becomes incapacitated, their legal personal representative or guardian may apply to the regulatory authority for a provider approval.

A nominated supervisor or a person in day-to-day charge of an education and care service operated by the approved provider must notify the regulatory authority within seven (7) calendar days if the approved provider dies.

The executor of the approved provider’s estate may continue to operate any approved service for the relevant period, if at least one nominated supervisor continues to manage the day-to-day operation of the service. ‘Relevant period’ means 30 calendar days after the death of the approved provider or, if the executor applies for a provider approval, until the regulatory authority determines the application.

In Western Australia, an executor includes a person entitled to a grant of letters of administration to the intestate estate of an approved provider, in addition to a person who has been granted letters of administration or probate or has been named executor in the approved provider’s will.

How does an executor, legal representative or guardian apply?

National Law, Sections 39–40 ]

An application must be made in writing and include payment of the set fee.

An application from an executor must be made within 30 calendar days of the provider’s death. The National Regulations specify information that must be included in an application (see Application checklists – Tables III, IV, V, VI).

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Because a provider approval granted to an executor, legal personal representative or guardian only relates to the service formerly operated by the deceased or incapacitated approved provider, the person cannot apply for any additional service approvals, or receive a service approval transferred from another approved provider.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the required information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

For more information refer to Incomplete applications in Application for provider approval.

Considering an application

National Law, Section 41 ]

The regulatory authority must consider whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to be involved in the provision of an education and care service. See the requirements set out above at Considering an application for fitness and propriety. The provider approval will not be granted to an executor, personal legal representative or guardian; unless they are fit and proper.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 41 ]

The regulatory authority may grant the provider approval, grant the approval subject to conditions, or refuse to grant the provider approval. Approval may be granted for a period of not more than six months, and may be extended or further extended for periods of not more than six months at the regulatory authority's discretion.

If granted, it is only in relation to the services that were operated by the approved provider where the applicant is the executor, personal legal representative or guardian.

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to refuse to grant a provider approval is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

After approval has been granted

National Law, Sections 20, 30 ]

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider a copy of the provider approval.

A service approval is not suspended during any period that a person is approved to manage or control the education and care service in the event that the approved provider dies or becomes incapacitated.

ACECQA will update the register of providers to reflect any amendments to a provider approval as necessary.

 

1.6 Voluntary suspension of provider approval

National Law & Regulations, Section 37, Regulation 19 ]    WA 

An approved provider can apply to the regulatory authority to voluntary suspend – put ‘on hold’ their provider approval – for up to 12 months.

During that time the person must not operate an education and care service.

The approved provider must apply for voluntary suspension in writing.

The National Regulations specify information that must be included in an application to suspend provider approval (see Application checklists – Table VII).

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the prescribed information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

Notification to parents

An approved provider must notify parents of children enrolled at their services of their intention to apply for voluntary suspension of a provider approval at least 14 calendar days before making the application.

Timeframes for assessing an application

A decision must be made within 30 calendar days of the regulatory authority receiving a complete application.

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering an application

National Law, Section 42 ]

The regulatory authority can only suspend a provider approval after consulting with the regulatory authority of each state or territory where the approved provider operates an education and care service. This includes the regulatory authority which granted the provider approval. Failure to consult other regulatory authorities does not affect the validity of the regulatory authority’s decision.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 37 ]

If the regulatory authority grants an application for voluntary suspension of a provider approval, it may agree on the date the suspension takes effect with the approved provider.

The regulatory authority must give written notice of its decision and, if granted, advise the period of suspension.

After approval has been suspended

National Law, Section 37 ]

The effect of suspension is that all service approvals held by the provider are suspended for the same period, unless the service approval is transferred, or a person is approved to manage or control an education and care service in the event the provider dies or becomes incapacitated.

The suspension remains in force for the period specified in the written notice of decision.

The approved provider may apply to have the suspension revoked before the end of the suspension period. If the regulatory authority grants the application to revoke the suspension, they may agree to a date for the suspension to cease with the approved provider.

1.7 Surrender of provider approval

National Law, Section 38 ]

An approved provider can surrender their provider approval by giving written notice to the regulatory authority. Once surrendered, the person is not taken to be an approved provider and must not operate a service.

Generally, if an approved provider changes its legal status, for example, where a sole trader becomes a body corporate, they will need to apply for a new provider approval.

The notice to the regulatory authority must specify the date the surrender is intended to take effect. This date must be after the notice is given to the regulatory authority and at least 14 calendar days after parents of children enrolled at any services are notified.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Notification to parents

An approved provider must notify parents of children enrolled at any of their services of their intention to surrender their provider approval. Parents must be notified at least 14 calendar days before the date of surrender is to take effect.

After surrender of provider approval

If a provider approval is surrendered, the provider approval and any service approval held by the provider are cancelled on the date specified in the notice.

1.8 Exercise of powers by another regulatory authority

National Law, Section 42 ]

The regulatory authority of another state or territory may exercise all its powers and functions in relation to a provider approval, if the approved provider operates an education and care service in its state or territory.

The regulatory authority may only amend, suspend or cancel a provider approval after consulting with the regulatory authority of each state or territory where the approved provider operates an education and care service. This includes the regulatory authority which granted the provider approval. Failure to consult other regulatory authorities does not affect the validity of the decision made.

Cancellation or suspension of a provider approval in one state or territory applies to all states and territories.

1.9 Offence related to provider approval

 

National Law, Section 103 ]

A person must not provide an education and care service unless the person is an approved provider of that service.

1.10 Additional information

The following list outlines the organisations responsible for working with children/vulnerable people check screenings in each state and territory other than Tasmania and for working with vulnerable people registration in Tasmania.

State and territory screening units

Australian Capital Territory

ACT Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

accesscanberra.act.gov.au

New South Wales

New South Wales Office of the Children’s Guardian

ocg.nsw.gov.au

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government

nt.gov.au

Queensland

Queensland Blue Card Services

bluecard.qld.gov.au

South Australia

South Australia Screening Unit of the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI)

screening.dcsi.sa.gov.au

Tasmania

Tasmania Department of Justice

www.justice.tas.gov.au/working_with_children

Victoria

Victoria Justice and Regulation

workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au

Western Australia

Western Australia Department of Communities

workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au

2. Service approval

National Law, Section 103 ]

A person must have service approval to operate an education and care service under the National Law and Regulations. Regulatory authorities are responsible for assessing and determining applications for service approval.

This section sets out how applications are made and processed.

2.1 What is an education and care service?

National Law & Regulations, Section 5, Regulation 5 ]

An education and care service is any service providing or intended to provide education and care on a regular basis to children under 13 years of age.

Services that are excluded by the National Law and Regulations and are not in scope of the National Quality Framework are listed below.

Services out of scope of the National Quality Framework

A school providing full-time education to children, including children in the year before Grade 1, but not including a preschool program delivered in a school or a preschool that is registered as a school (as these are within scope)

A preschool program delivered in a school if the program is delivered in a class or classes where a full-time education program is also being delivered to school children and the program is delivered to fewer than six children in the school (a composite class)

A personal arrangement

A service principally conducted to provide instruction in a particular activity (for example, a language class or ballet class)

A service providing education and care to patients in a hospital or patients of a medical or therapeutic care service

Care provided under a child protection law of a participating jurisdiction

Disability services defined under state or territory law, and early childhood intervention services for children with additional needs

Education and care in a child’s home

Except in WA, education and care in a residence, other than as part of a family day care service

Primarily ad hoc or casual education and care (commonly referred to as occasional care)

Education and care provided by a hotel or resort to children of short-term guests at the hotel or resort

Education and care that is provided on an ad hoc basis to children of a guest, visitor or patron where the person who is responsible for the children is readily available at all times

Education and care where it is primarily provided or shared by parents or family members

Education and care provided at a secondary school to a child of a student attending the school, where the parent retains responsibility for the child

Mobile services

Services that provide education and care for no more than four weeks per calendar year during school holidays

Transition to school programs provided by a school to orient children to that school

Services that on 30 June 2018 were funded under the Budget Based Funded program and were not approved under family assistance law

Services that on 30 June 2018 were funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy but were not approved under family assistance law nor regulated under the National Quality Framework

Playschools licensed in the Australian Capital Territory

Stand-alone services in Queensland

Playcentres in South Australia and New South Wales

Services licensed as Centre-based Class 4 or 5 services under the Child Care Act 2001 in Tasmania

Licensed limited hours or short-term services in Queensland or Victoria

Government-funded services under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 of Western Australia.

Education and care services can include services that educate and care for children under 13 years of age and also provide services for children over 13 years of age.

A transport service

Children can be transported as part of participating in education and care.

Whether this transport is part of the education and care service will depend on the circumstances. For example, where children are transported on an excursion as part of the service, or between a service and a home, school or other site and that transport is provided or arranged by the service, the National Law and Regulations would apply. For further information on specific requirements relating to transportation, see Section 2.14 – Transportation.

Where children leave the premises under transport that is not part of the education and care service, the approved provider must ensure children leave the premises in accordance with regulation 99.

Approved providers should also consider other laws and rules that might apply to transport services in their state or territory, such as road safety, driver licensing or vehicle operator accreditation, safe operation of vehicles including the use of age-appropriate and standardised safety restraints and any Working with Children and Vulnerable People requirements.

2.2 Application for service approval

National Law, Sections 43, 287 ]

An approved provider may apply to the regulatory authority for a service approval, provided they operate (or will operate) the service and are responsible for the management of staff members and the nominated supervisor for the service.

A person who has applied for a provider approval may also apply for a service approval. However, the service approval can only be granted if the provider approval is granted.

More than one entity may hold a provider or service approval. Each entity is jointly and severally responsible for complying with the National Law and Regulations. Regulatory authorities will assess the risk associated with joint applicants when determining applications for approvals.

How does an approved provider apply?

National Law & Regulations, Sections 44, 161, Regulations 24–26 ]   WA 

An application must be made in writing to the regulatory authority where the service is to be located and must include payment of the fee (see Fees).

The National Regulations specify information that must be included in an application for service approval (see Application checklists – Tables VIII, IX).

Consent to be a nominated supervisor

The approved provider must nominate one or more individuals to be nominated supervisors for the service.

The application for service approval must include written consent from each person nominated acknowledging that they consent to performing the role of nominated supervisor for the service. The only exception is if an approved provider is an individual and nominates themselves to be a nominated supervisor, in which case they do not need to provide written consent. Written consent is required in all other cases.

A service must have at least one nominated supervisor. There is no maximum number of nominated supervisors that may be appointed at one time for a service.

 WA  See Operational Requirements – Staffing Arrangements for more information on persons in day-to-day charge and nominated supervisors.

Applications for service approval including an associated children’s service

National Law, Sections 44, 102 ]

If an approved provider wants to operate a service covered by the National Law on the same premises as a service regulated under a different state or territory law (an associated children’s service), they can apply for service approval for both services under the National Law. For example, a provider may deliver a long day care service (approved education and care service) and an occasional care service (an associated children’s service) from the same premises.

Separate approvals are not needed but the associated children’s service must comply with the relevant state or territory children’s services law. See the Glossary for relevant state and territory children’s services laws.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Applications for service approval including request for approval of a family day care venue

National Law, Sections 50A, 103A ]

An approved provider may operate a family day care service at a venue only in exceptional circumstances and if approved by the regulatory authority.

An approved provider may apply to have a place approved as a family day care venue by the regulatory authority as part of an application for a new service approval. If the approved provider already holds a service approval, they may apply by seeking an amendment of the service approval (section 54(1A)).

Examples of exceptional circumstances that a regulatory authority may consider in approving a venue include:

  • where the proposed venue is located in a rural or remote area, and the location or characteristics of residences are not suited to family day care
  • other locations where potential residences may be unsuitable
  • for a temporary period (generally up to 12 months), where a residence is unavailable due to essential major repairs or the effects of natural disaster
  • where care is provided for a small group of vulnerable or disadvantaged children and a suitable residence is not available. What is considered vulnerable and disadvantaged would depend on the circumstances of each case.

In addition to considering whether exceptional circumstances exist, regulatory authorities must have regard to the suitability of a proposed venue when assessing a new service approval application, and may have regard to suitability when assessing an amendment of a service approval. Approved providers support this process by providing an assessment of the proposed venue in their application. See Assessments of family day care residences and venues.

It is an offence for an approved provider to provide education and care to children from a place that is not an approved family day care venue or residence. This offence attracts a penalty of $22,900 in the case of an individual, or $114,900 in any other case.

Incomplete applications

National Law, Section 265 ]

If an application does not include all the prescribed information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

Timeframe for assessing an application

National Law, Sections 45, 48 ]

A decision must be made within 90 calendar days of the regulatory authority receiving a complete application. This period may be extended with the applicant’s agreement. There is no limit on how long this may be if the applicant agrees.

If more information is requested, the time taken to provide it is not included in the 90 day period.

If a decision is not made within 90 calendar days (including any extension), it is taken to be refused.

National Law, Section 50 ]

The regulatory authority must give the applicant written notice of its decision, including the reasons, within seven (7) calendar days after it makes the decision.

Calculating time

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering an application

Conducting enquiries and investigations

National Law, Sections 14, 46 ]

When considering an application for service approval, the regulatory authority may:

  • ask the applicant to provide more information
  • undertake inquiries and investigations, including in relation to the previous licensing, accreditation or registration of the service under a former education and care service, children’s services or education law
  • inspect the policies and procedures for the service
  • inspect the service premises and enter the service premises at any reasonable time
  • administer questions to an applicant and/or persons with management or control by oral or written assessment of their knowledge of the NQF.

Regulatory authorities will generally inspect a proposed service premises as part of the decision-making process wherever possible for an application for a centre-based service approval, and the Principal Office as part of an application for family day care service approval.

Where an inspection is not possible, the regulatory authority can use other methods such as inspection of certified plans or topographical evidence, video or photographic evidence. The regulatory authority may also delegate a visit by a third party, as permitted under section 262 (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement).

Matters the regulatory authority must consider

National Law & Regulations, Section 47, Regulation 27 ]

The regulatory authority must consider the below matters when determining an application for service approval.

Matters the regulatory authority must consider for a service approval

The National Quality Framework

Except for a family day care residence, the suitability of the service premises and its site and location for operating an education and care service

The adequacy of the policies and procedures for the service (see Conducting enquiries and investigations)

Whether the applicant is an approved provider

Whether the nominated supervisor for the service has given their written consent

Any suspension of or conditions on the applicant’s provider approval

For a centre-based service or family day care venue proposed to be located in a multi-storey building with other occupants, whether the premises is located on a storey that provides direct egress to an assembly area to allow the safe evacuation of all children, including any infants and non-ambulatory children.

When submitting an application for service approval for a centre-based service or family day care venue proposed to be located in a multi-storey building shared with other occupants, applicants should ensure the documentation supplied to the regulatory authority demonstrates there is direct egress to an assembly area.

The regulatory authority may also consider any other matters that are relevant to the application.

Other matters the regulatory authority may consider include:

  • whether the applicant’s financial capacity, management ability or any other relevant matters affect their capacity to operate the service
  • the applicant’s history of compliance with the National Law, including in relation to any other service they operate.

The regulatory authority may do the following:

  • Check the status (that is, approved, suspended, refused or cancelled) of services in other states or territories associated with the approved provider, including the status of services in respect of the Commonwealth Family Assistance Law, for information that may be relevant to their ability to operate a service in accordance with the National Law
  • Request proposed budgets for the service, including wages, resources, utility costs, insurances, maintenance of service and professional development. However, it is not the regulatory authority’s responsibility to provide advice to applicants about operational budgets for a service
  • Request the approved provider to submit all their policies, or a sample for review. The required policies and procedures are set out in regulation 168. Additional policies and procedures required for family day care services are set out in regulation 169. If there are concerns about the adequacy of the policies, the regulatory authority may seek to review further policies and procedures for the service. Further guidance about preparing policies and procedures can be found on the ACECQA website at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/resources/preparing-nqf-policies-and-procedur…;

For applications that include an associated children’s service, the regulatory authority must consider the criteria for grant of a children’s service approval under the relevant children’s services law, not including the criteria for assessing the applicant’s fitness and propriety.

Regulatory authorities are not responsible for advising approved providers about the content of their policies and procedures. However, the regulatory authority may direct the approved provider to some best practice resources, such as Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (www.nhmrc.gov.au) and publications by organisations such as the Cancer Council (www.cancer.org.au), KidSafe (www.kidsafe.com.au), Red Nose (www.rednose.org.au) or a child protection agency (see Additional information).

Requiring more information to make decision on application

National Law, Sections 15, 45 ]

The regulatory authority may ask the applicant for any information reasonably required to assess their application. This includes administering questions to an applicant, or a person with management or control by oral or written assessment to assess their knowledge of the NQF.

It can also ask for more information if it is not satisfied the proposed education and care service premises will be suitable because its design makes supervision difficult. In this case, the regulatory authority may ask how they intend to mitigate design issues and ensure adequate supervision at all times.

Conditions on service approval

National Law & Regulations, Section 51, Regulations 29–32A ]

 A condition is a requirement that the person holding the approval must comply with to avoid committing an offence under the National Law.

A service approval is granted subject to conditions that the approved provider must comply with, set out in the table below.

It may also be granted subject to other conditions imposed by the regulatory authority. For example, if there are concerns about the approved provider’s ability to provide an environment safe for infants at the service, such as in a multi-storey building, a condition may be imposed preventing the provider from providing education and care to children under 12 months of age.

A condition applies to the approved provider unless the condition expressly provides otherwise.

A condition of service approval does not apply to an associated children’s service, unless the regulatory authority specifies otherwise. The regulatory authority may apply a condition of service approval solely to an associated children’s service only if it has first consulted with the relevant children’s services regulator.

Conditions may be imposed at the time the service approval is granted, or at a later time (see Amendment of service approval). See Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement – Conditions for more information about conditions on a service approval.

Mandatory maximum number of family day care educators

National Regulations, Regulations 32A, 384 ] 

A condition on each family day care service approval requires there to be a limit on the number of family day care educators that may be engaged by or registered with a family day care service. The regulatory authority must set the maximum number of educators who may be engaged or registered with that service.

The regulatory authority will consider each service on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration:

  • current educator numbers
  • NQS rating
  • provider compliance history
  • length of time the provider and the service has been in operation
  • support and supervision arrangements for educators.

The regulatory authority may consult with the provider when determining appropriate maximum educator numbers for the service.

Conditions on a service approval

Condition

Centre-based service

Family day care service

The service is operated in a way that ensures the safety, health and wellbeing of children educated and cared for by the service, and meets children’s educational and developmental needs.

The service commences ongoing operation within six months after the approval is granted, unless the regulatory authority agrees to an extension.

The approved provider has:

  • a current insurance policy providing adequate cover for the service against public liability, with a minimum cover of $10 million, or
  • an insurance policy or indemnity against public liability provided for the service by a state or territory government.

The prescribed number of persons are appointed as family day care co-ordinators to monitor and support the family day care educators engaged or registered with the service.

 

Each family day care educator is adequately monitored and supported by a family day care co-ordinator.

 

Each family day care educator holds public liability insurance with a minimum cover of $10 million.

 

The service’s quality improvement plan is kept at the service premises (the principal office for family day care services).

The service’s quality improvement plan is made available for inspection by the regulatory authority or an authorised officer.

The service’s quality improvement plan is made available on request to parents of children enrolled, or seeking enrolment, at the service.

The service continues to be entitled to occupy the education and care service premises.

 

The number of children educated and cared for by the service at any one time does not exceed the maximum number of children specified by the service approval.

 

The number of family day care educators providing education and care as part of the service does not exceed the maximum number of family day care educators determined by the regulatory authority in the service approval.

 

Each family day care residence, and any approved family day care venue of the service, are located in the jurisdiction that granted the service approval.

 

Management companies

National Law, Sections 5A, 43 ]

Occasionally, an approved provider will engage a management company to help them operate their service. Management companies vary in the range of services they offer, from payroll, bookkeeping and short notice staffing solutions to a wide range of day to day management services.

The approved provider retains legal responsibility under the National Law for the service even if it engages a management company. Approved providers cannot delegate or outsource their statutory obligations, or liability, regardless of what contractual arrangement the approved provider has with the management company.

The approved provider may only apply for service approval if it (and not the management company) is or will be the operator of the service, and is, or will be, responsible for the management of the staff members and nominated supervisor.

Persons employed by a management company contracted by the approved provider may be considered a person with management or control of the service if they have authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over planning, directing or controlling the activities or the delivery of the service. This means they must be a fit and proper person.

Requiring more information to make decision on application

National Law, Sections 51, 55 ]

Regulatory authorities can seek more information from the approved provider to determine a service approval application (section 51). For example, the regulatory authority may request details of the management company’s name, structure and experience in operating approved education and care services.

Where a management company is or will be involved in running the service, the regulatory authority may make enquiries with the approved provider, by interview or otherwise, to ensure that the approved provider:

  • will be responsible for management of staff members and the nominated supervisor
  • is fully aware of their responsibilities under the National Law, and understands that they cannot ‘contract out’ those obligations
  • has a contingency plan in place should the management company fail to meet expectations or the contract is terminated
  • ensure that services provided by the management company which directly impact the day to day operating of the education and care service are provided in a way that is compliant with the National Law, and does not pose a risk to children or the ability of the provider to meet its obligations under the National Law.

The regulatory authority may impose a condition on a service approval (section 51(5)). For example, a condition to require the approved provider to notify the regulatory authority of a change in the management company, or a significant change in the scope of services supplied by the management company, or that the approved provider ensures that officers engaged through the management company are fit and proper persons.

Similarly, where the regulatory authority becomes aware of a management company after granting a service approval, the approval may be amended and a condition imposed where appropriate (section 55(2)).

Determining an application

National Law, Section 52 ]

If the regulatory authority grants a service approval, it must provide a copy to the approved provider including the information below.

The service approval must be displayed so that it is visible from the main entrance of the approved service.

 

Information on a service approval

The name of the service

The location of the service for centre-based services, or the location of the principal office and any approved family day care venues

Any conditions on the service approval

The date service approval was granted

The name of the approved provider

Except for family day care services, the maximum number of children who can be educated and cared by the service at any one time

Details of any service waiver or temporary waiver that applies to the service.

The National Law does not specify how much time the regulatory authority has to give the approved provider a copy of the service approval. This means it must be done as soon as possible after deciding to grant the approval (Schedule 1, clause 31).

National Law, Section 48 ]

If an application for service approval includes an associated children’s service that does not meet state or territory-based licensing requirements for children’s services, the regulatory authority may grant a service approval only for the education and care service. The regulatory authority cannot grant a service approval that is only for an associated children’s service.

Refusing to grant service approval

National Law & Regulations, Section 49, Regulation 28 ]

 The regulatory authority cannot grant a service approval if the applicant does not have a provider approval, or if the regulatory authority is satisfied the operation of the service would constitute an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children.

The regulatory authority may refuse to grant a service approval if it is:

  • not satisfied that the grounds for granting approval are met
  • not satisfied the applicant can operate the service in a way that meets the National Law and Regulations, including the National Quality Standard
  • not satisfied the applicant is entitled to occupy the proposed service premises (for centre-based services)
  • not satisfied the applicant is capable of assessing family day care venues or residences or monitoring family day care educators (for family day care)
  • not satisfied the provider can maintain the premises or equipment or provide staff as required by the National Law. This may be due to the provider’s financial capacity, management ability or another reason.

Giving notice of the determination

A decision must be made within 90 calendar days. The regulatory authority must give the applicant written notice of its decision, and the supporting reasons, within seven (7) calendar days of making the decision (see Timeframe for assessing an application).

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to refuse to grant a service approval, or to grant service approval subject to conditions, is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

After an application has been determined

Publication on the register of approved services

National Law & Regulations, Sections 267, 270, Regulation 230 ]

 Regulatory authorities must keep a register of approved education and care services operating in their jurisdiction including the information set out below.

 

Information on the register of approved services

The name of the service

The name of the approved provider for the service

Except in the case of a family day care service, the address of each education and care service premises

In the case of an approved family day care service, the address of the principal office of the service

The rating levels for each service

The contact details for the service

In relation to a centre-based service, the hours of operation of the service

Any conditions to which the service approval is subject

In relation to a centre-based service, the approved number of places

The date the approved provider was granted service approval

The service approval number

The provider approval number.

The regulatory authority and ACECQA may publish the rating levels of the service, the name of the service, the address of the education and care service (except for family day care services) and, in the case of a family day care service, the address of the principal office.

This published information must not identify or lead to the identification of an individual, other than:

  • an approved provider
  • a person who is being prosecuted for an offence under the National Law.

The address of the principal office of a family day care service should not be published if it is at a private residence. In such cases, the register will not include an address for the service. ACECQA will publish the register of approved services, and regulatory authorities will meet their obligation to publish by linking to the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Duration and effect of service approval

A service approval authorises the approved provider to operate the education and care service.

A service approval is ongoing unless cancelled or suspended by the regulatory authority, or surrendered or voluntarily suspended by the approved provider. A service approval can also be limited by a condition applied by the regulatory authority.

2.3 Amending service approval on application

National Law & Regulations, Section 54, Regulation 34 ]   WA 

An approved provider may apply to the regulatory authority for an amendment of a service approval.

An application must be made in writing and include payment of the fee (see Fees). An application must include:

  • the name of the service
  • the service approval number
  • the name and contact details for the contact person for the application
  • the details of the amendment applied for, and sufficient information or documentation to support the application.

If the application includes a request for an approval of a family day care venue, the application must also include:

  • the location and street address of the venue
  • a statement that the applicant has the right to occupy and use the place as a venue and any document evidencing this (e.g. a lease of the premises)
  • an assessment (including any risk assessment) of the place conducted by the approved provider to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of children is protected.

The regulatory authority may ask the approved provider for further information reasonably required to assess the application.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

National  Regulations, Regulations 174–175 ]

Approved providers are not required to submit a service approval amendment to change the location of the family day care principal office. However, they are required to notify the regulatory authority at least 14 days before the change. Regulatory authorities should update the service approval when they receive a notification (see Operational Requirements – Governance and leadership and Applications and Approvals – Amendment of service approval without application).

The approved provider may seek to amend the service approval when requesting approval of a place as a family day care venue. The regulatory authority may approve the application if it considers there are exceptional circumstances and the approved provider has included an assessment of the proposed venue in the application. See Applications for service approval including request for approval of a family day care venue and Assessments of family day care residences and venues.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the prescribed information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

For more information refer to Incomplete applications in the Application for service approval section.

Timeframe for assessing an application

A decision must be made within 60 calendar days of the regulatory authority receiving a complete application.

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering the application

The National Law and Regulations do not specify the type or level of information needed to assess an application for amendment of service approval, other than requiring an application to include ‘sufficient information’. ‘Sufficient information’ means enough information for the regulatory authority to make a decision on the application.

Determining the application

Once the regulatory authority has received a complete application, it must decide to:

  • amend the provider approval in the way that was applied for; or
  • amend the provider approval in another way, with the applicant’s written approval; or
  • refuse the amendment of the provider approval.

An amendment may include a change to a condition of the provider approval or introduce a new condition.

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to refuse to amend a service approval is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

After approval has been amended

National Law, Section 57 ]

If the regulatory authority amends the service approval, it must give a copy to the approved provider.

2.4 Amendment of service approval without application

National Law, Section 55 ]

The regulatory authority may amend a service approval at any time without an application from the approved provider. Amendment of a service approval may include varying a condition or imposing a new condition on a service approval.

Regulatory authorities may amend a service approval to reflect a change to the location of the principal office of a family day care service. See Operational Requirements – Governance and leadership for information about providers’ obligations to notify the regulatory authority.

After approval has been amended

National Law, Section 57 ]

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider written notice of the amendment. Amendment takes effect 14 calendar days after the approved provider is notified, or at the end of another period specified by the regulatory authority.

At the request of a relevant children’s services regulator, the regulatory authority must amend a service approval that relates to an associated children’s service, provided the request accords with the relevant children’s services law.

If the regulatory authority amends the service approval, it must give a copy to the approved provider.

Appeals

National Law, Section 190 ]

A decision to amend a service approval is a reviewable decision under the National Law (see Reviews).

Application for amendment to a service approval for family day care service

 [ National Regulations, Regulation 34 ] 

An application for an amendment to a service approval for a family day care service that includes a request for approval of a place as a family day care venue must also include:

  • whether the venue is proposed to be located within a multi-storey building shared with other occupants
  • on which storey(s) the proposed venue is proposed to be located
  • if the venue is proposed to be located on more than one storey, the ages of the children on each storey
  • the total number of storeys in the multi-storey building. 

As part of the regulatory authority’s assessment of an application for an amendment to a family day care service approval, the regulatory authority must consider the assessment (including any risk assessment) of the venue conducted by the approved provider to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service are protected under regulation 116. As part of this assessment (including any risk assessment) for a residence or venue located in a multi-storey building shared with other occupants, the approved provider must consider for each storey on which the residence or venue is located, whether there is direct egress to an assembly area that allows the safe evacuation of children, including any infants and non-ambulatory children.  

2.5 Offences related to service approval

Operating a service without service approval

 

National Law, Section 103 ]

It is an offence under the National Law for a person to provide an education and care service without a service approval. A family day care educator providing education and care as part of an approved service is not committing an offence under this section.

Advertising a service without service approval

 

National Law, Section 104 ]

It is an offence for a person to publish (or cause to be published) an advertisement for an education and care service unless the service is approved or an application for service approval has been submitted to the regulatory authority but not yet decided.

A family day care educator can advertise if they make clear they are part of an approved service. Any advertisement should indicate which approved service they are promoting and include contact details for that service.

Activities that are part of a planning process, such as gauging interest in the feasibility of a service, do not constitute advertising a non-approved service.

2.6 Transfer of service approval

National Law & Regulations, Sections 58–61, Regulations 36–37 ]

An approved provider (the transferring approved provider) may transfer a service approval to another approved provider (the receiving approved provider).

Notification of decision to transfer

The transferring and receiving approved providers must jointly notify the regulatory authority of the transfer at least 60 calendar days before it is intended to take effect and specify the intended transfer date.

The regulatory authority may agree to a shorter notification period if it considers there are exceptional circumstances (see below).

The notice must be in writing, include the required information and payment of the fee (see Application checklists – Table X and Fees).

Regulatory authority consent

A service approval can only be transferred with the regulatory authority’s consent. The regulatory authority is taken to have consented if it is notified of the transfer and, 28 calendar days before the transfer is to take effect, has not advised the approved providers that it intends to intervene.

The regulatory authority may reassess waivers when notified of the transfer of service approval.

Exceptional circumstances

Regulatory authorities may agree ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist to justify a shorter notification period of less than 60 calendar days. In determining if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’, regulatory authorities may:

  • consider if the situation is unusual, not typical – that is, one that cannot ordinarily be planned for (for example, where a management committee must be dissolved suddenly, a transferring approved provider has gone into liquidation or receivership, the transferring approved provider wants to disband/dissolve the legal entity, or the approved provider is ill and no longer able to operate the service, and it is in the best interests of the children at the service to ensure continuity by transferring the service to a new approved provider)
  • determine the safety, health and wellbeing of children at the service are at risk (for example, continuity of care becomes compromised). 

 SA    NSW    TAS    WA  Where a service in SA, NSW, Tas or WA is transferred under a transitional arrangement, the notification of transfer must include information regarding the requirements that will need to be met by the service.

Where a service is in NSW and has a waiver, the notification must include how the service will fulfil obligations of the waiver, i.e. whether they will be keeping on an early childhood teacher nominee for a staffing waiver.

Delay to transfer date

National Law, Section 59A ]

If, after notifying the regulatory authority of the intention to transfer, the transfer date is to be delayed, the transferring approved provider and receiving approved provider must jointly notify the regulatory authority of the new transfer date. This change will not affect consent to the transfer – either given or taken to have been given – by the regulatory authority before it received notice of the date change.  

Requesting an earlier transfer date after notification given

National Law, Section 59B ]

Once the regulatory authority has consented to the transfer, the transferring approved provider and the receiving approved provider may request the transfer take effect on an earlier date than specified in the notification. The regulatory authority may agree to the requested earlier date if satisfied there are exceptional circumstances (see above). 

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Decision to intervene in transfer of service approval

National Law & Regulations, Section 62, Regulation 38 ]

The regulatory authority may intervene in a transfer if it is concerned about any matter it considers relevant including:

  • the receiving approved provider’s capacity to operate the service, considering their financial capacity, fitness and propriety and management ability
  • the receiving approved provider’s history of compliance with the National Law and Regulations, including in relation to any other education and care service they operate.

Regulatory authorities may require the receiving approved provider and/or persons with management or control to undergo an oral or written assessment of the person’s knowledge of the NQF. 

If the regulatory authority decides to intervene both the transferring and receiving approved provider must be notified in writing at least 28 calendar days before the transfer is intended to take effect. This does not apply in cases where a notification of service transfer is not lodged in accordance with section 59 of the Law. The notice must include the information set out below.

Information that must be included in notification to intervene in transfer of service approval

The name of the education and care service

The service approval number

The transferring approved provider’s name

The receiving approved provider’s name

The matters about which the regulatory authority is concerned.

National Law, Sections 63–64 ]

If the regulatory authority intervenes, a transfer cannot proceed unless the regulatory authority gives written consent.

The regulatory authority may request more information from the transferring or receiving approved providers to inform its decision to consent or refuse to consent to the transfer. The regulatory authority may also make inquiries about the receiving approved provider.

Decision following intervention in transfer

National Law, Sections 65–66 ]

The regulatory authority may impose conditions on its consent to transfer, including specifying the date the transfer will take effect. The service approval must be transferred in accordance with any conditions imposed.

If the regulatory authority intervenes in a transfer of a service approval, it must notify the transferring and receiving approved providers of its decision at least 10 calendar days before the transfer is intended to take effect.

The notice must specify the regulatory authority’s decision according to the options set out below.

Transfer of service approval – notice of outcome

Consent to the transfer, including the date on which the transfer will take effect and any conditions on the consent to transfer (notice may also include any new conditions placed on the receiving provider’s provider approval or service approval), or

Refusal to consent to the transfer (service cannot be transferred), including the reasons for refusal, or

Suspension of consideration of the transfer until more information is received, and that the transfer may not proceed until the regulatory authority gives its written consent, or

Decision not yet made on the transfer but will decide within 28 calendar days, and that the transfer may not proceed until the regulatory authority gives its written consent.

National Law, Section 67 ]

A transfer of service approval is void if it is made:

  • without the regulatory authority’s consent
  • in a way that does not satisfy conditions imposed on the regulatory authority’s consent
  • to a person other than the receiving approved provider who notified the regulatory authority of the transfer.

A cancelled service approval cannot be transferred. A service approval that is going to be cancelled may be able to be transferred (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement).

Notification to parents 

National Law, Section 69 ]

The receiving approved provider must notify parents of children enrolled at the service of the transfer at least seven (7) calendar days before the transfer takes effect.

Notification following transfer of service approval

 

National Law, Section 68 ]

The transferring and receiving approved providers must notify the regulatory authority in writing within two (2) calendar days after the transfer takes effect, specifying the date of the transfer. Transfer of a service approval includes transfer of any associated children's service included on the service approval.

On receiving notice that the service has been transferred, the regulatory authority must amend the service approval and give the receiving approved provider an updated copy. The amendment to the service approval is taken to have effect on the date of transfer.

Transfer of suspended service approval

National Law, Section 76 ]

The regulatory authority may consent to the transfer of a suspended service approval. In this case, the suspension ceases when the transfer takes effect, unless the regulatory authority has imposed a condition on the transfer stating otherwise.

Application to transfer service approval when provider approval is cancelled

National Law, Section 34 ]

An approved provider can apply to the regulatory authority for consent to transfer a service approval if their provider approval will be cancelled (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement).

The application to transfer must be made within 14 calendar days after the date of the decision to cancel the provider approval. In this case, the service approval is suspended until the regulatory authority has determined the application for consent to transfer.

If the regulatory authority consents to the transfer, suspension of the service approval ceases on the date the transfer takes effect, unless conditions of transfer specify a later date.

If the regulatory authority decides not to consent to the transfer, the service approval is cancelled from the date of its decision.

Application to transfer cancelled service approval

National Law, Sections 81–82 ]

An approved provider can apply to the regulatory authority for consent to transfer a service approval that is to be cancelled, unless the cancellation relates only to an associated children’s service.

The application must be made within 14 calendar days after the regulatory authority decides to cancel the service approval.

If the approved provider applies for consent to transfer, the service approval is suspended, rather than cancelled, until the regulatory authority determines the application.

If the regulatory authority consents to the transfer, its decision to cancel the service approval is revoked. The suspension of the service approval ceases when the transfer takes effect, unless the regulatory authority imposes a condition on their consent to transfer, specifying a later date.

If the regulatory authority refuses to consent to the transfer, the service approval is cancelled, effective from the date of its decision.

The National Law does not specify how an approved provider must apply for consent to transfer service approval if their approval will be cancelled. To ensure it has all the necessary information to decide whether to consent to the transfer, the regulatory authority can request an application be made in the same form as an application to transfer service approval in ordinary circumstances (See Notification of decision to transfer).

2.7 Suspension of service approval

National Law & Regulations, Sections 30, 70–75, 84–85, Regulations 39–40 ]

The regulatory authority may suspend the service approval for up to 12 months.

A regulatory authority may suspend a service approval on a number of grounds, such as:

  • there is a reasonable belief that it would not be in the best interests of the children for the service to continue to operate
  • the service has operated at a rating level not meeting the National Quality Standard and
    • a service waiver or temporary waiver does not apply to the service in respect of that non-compliance
    • there has been no improvement in the rating level
  • the approved provider has not complied with a condition of the service approval or the National Law and Regulations
  • the approved provider has not complied with a direction, compliance notice or emergency order under the National Law
  • the approved provider has not paid the annual fee for the service approval.

Before a regulatory authority takes action to suspend a service approval, it must:

  • notify the approved provider and provide reasons for the action (a ‘show cause notice’)
  • allow the approved provider to respond in writing to the notification before making its final decision
  • advise the approved provider in writing of the final decision.

The regulatory authority may require the approved provider to notify parents of enrolled children of the suspension in writing.

A regulatory authority may also suspend a service approval without prior notification if there is immediate risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children. If a regulatory authority suspends a service approval without notification, the suspension can be for no longer than six months.

An approved provider may also apply to voluntarily suspend a service approval for up to 12 months (see Transfer of service approval).

2.8 Voluntary suspension of service approval

National Law, Section 85 ]

An approved provider may apply for voluntary suspension of a service approval and put the service approval ‘on hold’ for up to 12 months.

During that time, the person must not operate the service.

An approved provider may apply if, for example, they no longer wish to operate the service but have not negotiated transfer of the service to another approved provider, or if they need to temporarily relocate a service to different premises during refurbishment.

See Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement for information on non-voluntary suspension of a service approval.

How does the approved provider apply?

National Law & Regulations, Section 85, Regulation 40 ]

An application for voluntary suspension must be in writing and include payment of the prescribed fee.

The National Regulations specify information that must be included in an application to suspend service approval (see Application checklists – Table XI).

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the prescribed information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

For more information refer to Incomplete applications in the Application for service approval section.

Notification to parents

An approved provider must notify parents of children enrolled at their services of their intention to apply for voluntary suspension of service approval at least 14 calendar days before making the application.

Timeframes for assessing an application

A decision must be made within 30 calendar days of the regulatory authority receiving a complete application.

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering the application

National Law, Sections 85, 101 ]

The regulatory authority should consider whether the suspension is reasonable in the circumstances.

The regulatory authority can only suspend a service approval of a family day care service after consulting with the regulatory authority of each jurisdiction where the approved provider operates an education and care service. This includes the regulatory authority which granted the service approval. Failure to consult other regulatory authorities does not affect the validity of the decision.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 85 ]

If the regulatory authority grants an application for voluntary suspension of service approval, it may agree to the date the suspension takes effect with the approved provider.

After approval has been suspended

The suspension of the service approval remains in force for the period specified in the written notice of decision. The regulatory authority can lift a period of voluntary suspension at the approved provider’s request.

2.9 Surrender of service approval

The surrender of service approval means giving up service approval. Once surrendered, the person cannot operate the education and care service.

How does the approved provider surrender approval?

National Law, Section 86 ]

An approved provider can surrender their service approval by giving written notice to the regulatory authority.

The notice to the regulatory authority must specify a date on which the surrender is intended to take effect. The date of effect must be after the notice is given to the regulatory authority and at least 14 calendar days after parents of children enrolled at any services are notified.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Notification to parents

An approved provider must notify parents of children enrolled at the service of their intention to surrender the service’s approval. Parents must be notified at least 14 calendar days before the date of surrender is to take effect.

Fees

National Law, Section 261 ]

Regulatory authorities have the power to collect, waive, reduce, defer and refund fees (including late payment fees) and enter into agreements in relation to fees. Fees associated with applications to ACECQA are not covered in this chapter.

Visit the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au for a full list of prescribed fees under the National Regulations.

Application fees

National Regulations, Regulation 232, Schedule 2 ]

The National Regulations prescribe fees for certain applications to the regulatory authority.

There is no fee to voluntarily suspend a provider approval or service approval, or to amend a provider approval.

Annual fee

National Law & Regulations, Section 53, Regulations 33, 232, Schedule 2 ]

An approved provider must pay the prescribed annual fee for each service approval they hold.

Fees must be paid to the relevant regulatory authority on or before 1 July each year.

Late payment fee

National Law, Section 233 ]

The regulatory authority may charge a late payment fee if an annual fee is not paid by 1 July. The late fee is 15 per cent of the relevant annual fee per 30 days (or part thereof) that the payment is overdue.

If the annual fee is not paid, the regulatory authority may consider taking compliance action (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement). Failure to pay the annual fee is grounds for suspension of provider approval and service approval (sections 25 and 70).

Repeated instances of non-payment may indicate poor financial management, and the regulatory authority may decide to reassess the provider’s fitness and propriety to provide an education and care service (see Applications and Approvals).

Waiving or varying a fee

National Law & Regulations, Section 261, Regulation 234 ]

The regulatory authority may waive, reduce, defer or refund a fee payable or that has been paid if there are exceptional circumstances.

The regulatory authority may also offer flexible payment options to providers who are unable to pay their fees due to exceptional circumstances.

Decisions to waive or vary a fee should be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a service has been affected by a natural disaster that has significantly impacted the provider’s financial position. The regulatory authority may seek documentary evidence to support the provider’s claims of exceptional circumstances.

Indexation

National Regulations, Regulations 235–6 ]

Fees are indexed each year according to published indexation figures, and are available on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au before the beginning of each financial year.

GST

Government regulatory fees are exempt from GST.

3. Waivers and other applications

Waivers play an important role in helping providers maintain their level of service to families while dealing with special circumstances or unexpected events.

An approved provider may apply to a regulatory authority for a waiver of one or more of the prescribed National Regulations. Approved providers can apply for a service waiver where an issue is likely to be ongoing, or a temporary waiver, where the issue can be addressed within 12 months.

3.1 Application for service waiver

National Law, Sections 41, 87, 93 ]

A service waiver allows an approved education and care service to be taken to comply with requirement/s of the prescribed National Regulations.

Requirements that can be waived by the regulatory authority under the National Regulations, are set out in the table below.

Requirements that may be covered by a service waiver

Reg

Requirement

72A

Location of principal office of family day care service

Physical environment

104

Fencing

107

Indoor space (Centre-based only)

108

Outdoor space (Centre-based only)

110

Ventilation and natural light

117

Glass (Family Day Care only).

Staffing

120

Educators who are under 18 to be supervised (Centre-based only)

123

Educator to child ratios—centre-based services (Centre-based only)

124

Number of children who can be educated and cared for (Family Day Care only)

126

General educator qualifications – centre-based services

127

Family day care educator qualifications (Family Day Care only)

128

Family day care co-ordinator qualifications (Family Day Care only)

130

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—fewer than 25 approved places (Centre-based only)

131

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—25 or more approved places but fewer than 25 children

132

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—25 to 59 children

133

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—60 to 80 children

134

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—more than 80 children (Centre-based only)

Division 2 of Part 4.3

(Centre-based only)

  • 111 Administrative space
  • 112 Nappy change facilities
  • 113 Outdoor space—natural environment
  • 114 Outdoor space—shade
  • 115 Premises designed to facilitate supervision

Ch.7

Any jurisdiction-specific, transitional or saving provisions that apply in place of the regulations outlined above.

 

How does an approved provider apply?

National Law, Section 88 ]

An application for a service waiver must be in writing and include payment of the prescribed fee (see Fees).

An approved provider may apply for a service waiver and a service approval at the same time.

An approved provider can only apply for a waiver of the regulations set out in the above table. The application may be refused and the application fee may be refunded if the application seeks to waive other regulations.

National Regulations, Regulation 42 ]

The National Regulations prescribe information that must be included in an application for a service waiver (see Application checklists – Table XIII).

The application must detail any attempts made to comply with the relevant regulation and include the measures being taken, or to be taken, to protect the wellbeing of children at the service.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

The National Law allows an approved provider to apply for a service waiver from staffing requirements. However, if the issue may be resolved within 12 months, a temporary waiver may be more appropriate.

Incomplete applications

National Law, Section 265 ]

If an application does not include all the required information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is complete and therefore valid.

Timeframe for assessing an application

National Law, Section 91 ]

The regulatory authority must notify the applicant of its decision within 60 calendar days after the application is made. The timeframe for determining an application cannot be extended.

If the approved provider applied for a service waiver and a service approval simultaneously, the regulatory authority may notify the applicant of the outcome of both applications at the same time.

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

For more information refer to Calculating time in Application for provider approval.

Considering an application

National Law, Sections 89–90 ]

When considering an application for a service waiver, the regulatory authority may consider the measures being taken or to be taken to protect the wellbeing of children while the proposed waiver is in force, and any other information included in the application.

Assessment of waiver applications

All applications for service or temporary waivers are assessed on a case-by-case basis. A regulatory authority may request more information or may inspect the service premises or office to assist in deciding to grant or refuse a waiver. If more information is requested, the time taken to provide it is not included in the period for determining the application.

If the regulatory authority grants a waiver, it must issue or reissue the service approval specifying the regulation(s) to which the service waiver applies.

In assessing a waiver application a regulatory authority should consider the following non-exhaustive list:

General

  • the measures being taken or to be taken to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service while the proposed waiver would be in place
  • the benefits to families, children and communities in having the service operate
  • the service’s Quality Improvement Plan
  • the number and age range of children enrolled at the service
  • attempts made by the approved provider to comply with the regulation(s)
  • the cost of any adjustments needed for the service to comply with the regulations for which a waiver is being sought
  • the compliance history of the approved provider and/or the service
  • unusual or unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters
  • whether the issue is ongoing (i.e. longer than 12 months) and requires a service waiver, rather than a temporary waiver, or circumstances have changed and a temporary waiver is required instead of a service waiver.

Staffing Waivers

  • staff details, including rosters and qualifications
  • evidence of recruitment e.g. advertising and the outcomes of a recruitment attempt
  • evidence of progress towards relevant qualifications
  • strategies in place to attract, upskill and retain staff
  • what the service is doing to meet the immediate shortfall.

Physical Environment Waivers (including indoor and outdoor spaces)

  • access to indoor and outdoor spaces, or facilities e.g. toilets
  • building and floor plans by a certified building practitioner
  • photos of relevant spaces, e.g. simulated outdoor space
  • details of renovations
  • impact on programming, educational outcomes and experience of children
  • at the discretion of the regulatory authority, an authorised officer may visit the service premises to view the relevant spaces and gather additional information.

Waiver of requirement to have FDC principal office in the same jurisdiction as FDC service approval

National Regulations, Regulation 72A ]

  • family day care services are in Local Government Areas in adjacent jurisdictions (e.g. Albury/Wodonga)
  • strategies in place to ensure educators will be adequately supported and monitored.

Waiver Conditions

A waiver may be granted subject to conditions. For example, a condition on a waiver may limit it to applying for a specific period of time, i.e. one day a week.

A regulatory authority may grant a waiver subject to conditions for a variety of reasons, including where it considers that limiting the scope of the waiver is appropriate to protect the wellbeing of children educated and cared for by the service.

Conditions on a waiver may be removed, added to or varied at any time. For instance, if a provider fails to take measures to protect the wellbeing of children, as set out in the application, a condition may be imposed which would affect the validity of the waiver. The waiver only applies where steps are taken, in accordance with the application, to protect the wellbeing of children at the service.

If a waiver applies to multiple regulations, conditions may be imposed on some or all aspects of the waiver. Conditions on a waiver are recorded on the service approval certificate. These conditions are in addition to any conditions that apply to the service approval itself.

Determining an application

National Law, Section 91 ]

The regulatory authority may decide to grant or refuse an application for a service waiver.

If the regulatory authority receives an application for a service waiver which should have been an application for a temporary waiver, it can be processed as if it was an application for a temporary waiver. The approved provider is not required to resubmit an application (see Application for temporary waiver).

Applications to waive multiple regulations

At the discretion of the regulatory authority, an approved provider may include multiple regulations in a single waiver application. If the regulatory authority receives an application seeking to waive multiple regulations, it may decide to grant a waiver in relation to some regulations but refuse others.

If a waiver applies to multiple regulations, conditions may be imposed on some or all aspects of the waiver.

After a service waiver has been granted

National Law, Section 91 ]

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider a copy of their service approval that lists the regulation to which the waiver applies and any conditions placed on the waiver.

Revoking a service waiver

National Law & Regulations, Section 92, Regulation 43 ]

A service waiver is ongoing and remains in force until revoked. There is no maximum period for which a service waiver can apply.

While a service waiver is ongoing, it is not ‘permanent’, as the regulatory authority may revoke a service waiver at its discretion. If a service waiver is revoked, the waiver ceases to apply:

  • 60 calendar days after the regulatory authority notifies the approved provider of their decision, or
  • at the end of a period determined by the regulatory authority and agreed by the approved provider.

An approved provider may apply to the regulatory authority to have a service waiver revoked. In this case, the waiver ceases to apply:

  • 14 calendar days after the regulatory authority notifies the approved provider that the application for revocation is approved, or
  • at the end of a period determined by the regulatory authority and agreed by the approved provider.

If a service waiver is granted and the regulatory authority later becomes aware that the grounds on which it was granted no longer apply, or if a condition placed on the service approval has not been complied with, it may revoke the waiver. The regulatory authority may revoke a service waiver at its discretion including if, for example, the regulatory authority becomes aware of a relevant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

If the regulatory authority revokes a waiver and the approved provider fails to comply with a requirement of the National Law and Regulations, it may take compliance action.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

3.2 Application for temporary waiver

National Law, Sections 94, 100 ]

An approved provider may apply to the regulatory authority for a temporary waiver. A temporary waiver means a service is not required to comply with a specified requirement or requirements of the National Regulations for a period of time. 

If the regulatory authority becomes aware of an approved education and care service not being able to meet staffing or physical environment requirements, despite attempts to comply, it may inform the approved provider that they may apply for a temporary waiver, if it is satisfied the approved provider has reasonable justification for not being able to comply.

What requirements can be the subject of an application for a temporary waiver?

National Regulations, Regulation 44 ]

Requirements that can be temporarily waived by the regulatory authority under the National Regulations are set out in the table below.

Requirements that may be covered by a temporary waiver

Reg

Requirement

72A

Location of principal office of family day care service

Physical environment

104

Fencing

107

Indoor space (Centre-based only)

108

Outdoor space (Centre-based only)

110

Ventilation and natural light

117

Glass (Family Day Care only).

Staffing

120

Educators who are under 18 to be supervised (Centre-based only)

123

Educator to child ratios—centre-based services

124

Number of children who can be educated and cared for (Family Day Care only)

126

General educator qualifications – centre-based services

127

Family day care educator qualifications (Family Day Care only)

128

Family day care co-ordinator qualifications (Family Day Care only)

130

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—fewer than 25 approved places (Centre-based services only)

131

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—25 or more approved places but fewer than 25 children

132

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—25 to 59 children

133

Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—60 to 80 children

134 Requirement for early childhood teacher—centre-based services—more than 80 children

136

First aid qualifications

Division 2 Part 4.3

Additional requirements for centre-based services

  • 111 Administrative space
  • 112 Nappy change facilities
  • 113 Outdoor space—natural environment
  • 114 Outdoor space—shade
  • 115 Premises designed to facilitate supervision

Ch.7

Any jurisdiction-specific, transitional or saving provisions that apply in place of the regulations outlined above.

 

How does an approved provider apply?

National Law, Section 95 ]

An application for a temporary waiver must be in writing and include payment of the prescribed fee (see Fees).

An approved provider can only apply for a waiver of the prescribed regulations set out in the above table. If the regulatory authority receives an application for a waiver of a regulation that is not prescribed, the application may be refused and the application fee may be refunded.

National Law & Regulations, Section 95, Regulation 45 ]

The National Regulations prescribe information that must be included in an application for a temporary waiver (see Application checklists – Table XIII).

The National Regulations do not specify the type of evidence that must be included to support a waiver application. Therefore, the regulatory authority has discretion to accept a range of evidence.

Applications and notifications can be submitted to the regulatory authority online using the National Quality Agenda IT System on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Incomplete applications

If an application does not include all the prescribed information, the regulatory authority may treat the application as invalid. The timeframe for processing an application does not begin until an application is deemed complete and therefore valid.

Timeframe for assessing an application

National Law, Section 98 ]

The regulatory authority must notify the applicant of their decision within 60 calendar days of receiving a complete application. There is no provision to extend the timeframe for determining an application for a temporary waiver.

 

Calculating time

The National Law sets out how timeframes are calculated at schedule 1, clause 31.

An application cannot begin to be processed unless the application is complete/valid and includes all the required information.

When calculating the timeframe, the day the application is received is excluded. If the timeframe is expressed in the legislation in terms of a number of days, the last day of that timeframe is also excluded. ‘Day’ means calendar day. For example, a regulatory authority must make a decision on an application for a temporary waiver within 60 days after the application is received (see section 15). If the regulatory authority receives the application on 1 March, the 60-day timeframe commences on 2 March and runs until the end of 1 May. 1 March is excluded from the calculation, and 30 April, being the 60th day, is also excluded.

If the last day of the timeframe falls on a non-business day, the next business day will be the last day. Using the example above, if 1 May is a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the regulatory authority’s decision will be due the first working day after 1 May.

If more information is needed, the time period for responding to the regulatory authority request is excluded from the 60-day limit within which the regulatory authority must decide the application.

Considering an application

National Law, Sections 96–97 ]

The regulatory authority must consider whether any special circumstances disclosed in the application reasonably justify the grant of a temporary waiver. When considering an application for a temporary waiver, the regulatory authority may consider the measures being taken or to be taken to protect the wellbeing of children while the proposed waiver is in force, and any other information included in the application.

The regulatory authority may ask for more information or may inspect the service premises or office for the purpose of assessing the application. If more information is requested, the time taken to provide it is not included in the period for determining the application.

Assessment of waiver applications

All applications for service or temporary waivers are assessed on a case-by-case basis with reference to the requirements of the National Law and Regulations. If the regulatory authority grants a waiver, it must issue or reissue the service approval specifying the regulation to which the waiver applies.

In assessing a waiver application a regulatory authority should consider the following non-exhaustive list:

General

  • the measures being taken or to be taken to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service while the proposed waiver would be in place
  • the benefits to families, children and communities in having the service operate
  • the service’s Quality Improvement Plan
  • the number and age range of children enrolled at the service
  • attempts made by the approved provider to comply with the regulation(s)
  • the cost of any adjustments needed for the service to comply with the regulations for which a waiver is being sought
  • the compliance history of the approved provider and/or the service
  • unusual or unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters
  • whether the issue is ongoing (i.e. longer than 12 months) and requires a service waiver, rather than a temporary waiver, or circumstances have changed and a temporary waiver is required instead of a service waiver.

Staffing Waivers

  • staff details, including rosters and qualifications
  • evidence of recruitment e.g. advertising and the outcomes of a recruitment attempt
  • evidence of progress towards relevant qualifications
  • strategies in place to attract, upskill and retain staff
  • what the service is doing to meet the immediate shortfall.

Physical Environment Waivers (including indoor and outdoor spaces)

  • access to indoor and outdoor space, or facilities e.g. toilets
  • building and floor plans by a certified building practitioner
  • photos of relevant spaces e.g. simulated outdoor space
  • details of renovations
  • impact on programming, educational outcomes and experience of children

At the discretion of the regulatory authority, an authorised officer may visit the service premises to view the relevant spaces and gather additional information.

Determining an application

Granting or refusing a temporary waiver

National Law, Section 98 ]

If granted, the regulatory authority must specify the period for which the temporary waiver will apply, which can be up to 12 months. The regulatory authority must issue or reissue the service approval, specifying the regulation to which the temporary waiver applies, the period of the waiver, and any conditions placed on the waiver.

Conditions on temporary waivers

If a temporary waiver is granted, the regulatory authority may place conditions on the waiver including limiting the use of the waiver. The regulatory authority may also remove, add to or vary any conditions placed on the temporary waiver at any time.

Applications to waive multiple regulations

At the discretion of the regulatory authority, an approved provider may include multiple regulations in a single waiver application. If the regulatory authority receives an application seeking to waive multiple regulations, it may decide to grant a waiver in relation to some regulations but refuse others.

If a waiver applies to multiple regulations, conditions may be imposed on some or all aspects of the waiver.

Revoking a temporary waiver

National Law, Section 99 ]

The regulatory authority may revoke a temporary waiver at its discretion.

An application for a temporary waiver must include details of any attempts made to comply with the regulation and the measures being taken, or to be taken, to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service. The regulatory authority may consider revoking a temporary waiver after it has been granted, if made aware that the grounds on which it was granted no longer apply or that the service approval has not been complied with.

There is no notice period for revoking a temporary waiver.

If the regulatory authority revokes a waiver and the approved provider fails to comply with a requirement of the National Law and Regulations, it may consider whether it is appropriate to take compliance action.

An approved provider may contact the regulatory authority seeking to have a temporary waiver revoked if it is no longer required. The National Law does not prescribe the process for revoking a temporary waiver at a provider’s request.

3.3 Combining a waiver with conditions on service approval

National Law, Section 51 ]

The regulatory authority can impose any conditions it considers appropriate on a service approval and on a waiver.

The regulatory authority may grant a temporary waiver and place conditions on the service approval at the same time.

Conditions may also be placed on the service approval at a later time.

This approach may be suitable where there:

  • is a greater risk to children in granting the waiver, such as where the service would not be allowed to operate without meeting certain conditions or taking certain steps
  • are concerns about whether the provider will maintain their efforts to meet the requirement and follow through on any agreed actions.

This approach may be preferred if it is important families using the service are aware of the grounds on which the waiver has been issued, as the details of any conditions on a service approval must be displayed at the entrance to the service premises.

See Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement – Conditions for more information about using conditions on a service approval.

After a temporary waiver has been granted

National Law, Section 98 ]

The regulatory authority must give the approved provider a copy of their service approval that lists the regulation to which the waiver applies, the period of the waiver and any conditions placed on the waiver.

Regulatory authorities should take a risk-based approach to monitoring compliance of services with a temporary waiver (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement for more information about monitoring activities).

If a service is transferred to a new provider, any waivers that apply will remain in place. However, the regulatory authority might decide to monitor the service after it is transferred, to ensure the grounds on which the waiver was issued still exist.

The National Law does not explicitly give regulatory authorities the power to publish information about waivers. Regulatory authorities may, however, publish information about conditions on service approvals.

Expiry of a temporary waiver

National Law, Sections 98, 100 ]

Once the period for which a temporary waiver is granted has passed, the waiver no longer applies and the service must comply with the National Law and Regulations, unless an extension has been granted.

To help ensure families can access current information about the service, the regulatory authority should reissue the service approval once a temporary waiver expires.

Once a temporary waiver expires, the regulatory authority might decide to monitor the service to ensure the requirement is being met (see Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement for more information).

Application to extend a temporary waiver

National Law, Section 98 ]

The approved provider may apply for an extension of a temporary waiver. The regulatory authority cannot extend a temporary waiver without an application from the approved provider. The application must be in writing and include payment of the prescribed fee (see Fees).

The regulatory authority may extend a temporary waiver for up to 12 months. Approved providers may apply for further extensions to a temporary waiver however this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

An application for an extension of a temporary waiver must relate to the same regulations and circumstances for which the initial waiver was granted. For instance, a provider might apply for an extension to a temporary waiver if building works take longer than expected, or if an educator needs some more time to complete their approved qualification. If the provider is seeking a waiver of different requirements, they must submit a new application.

When considering an application for extension of a temporary waiver, the regulatory authority will consider the same matters as for an initial application, paying particular attention to the attempts made and/or steps taken by the service to comply with the regulation(s). If the regulatory authority extends the service waiver the service approval will be amended.

Table I

Information that must be included in an application for provider approval made by an individual (regulation 14)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s full name, and any former or other name the applicant may be known by

The applicant’s residential address and contact details

The applicant’s date and place of birth

Proof of the applicant’s identity

A previous service statement made by the applicant (see Glossary)

In states excluding NSW or QLD, if the participating jurisdiction has a working with children law:

  1. if held by the applicant, a copy of their current working with children card or check, or
  2. if the applicant is a teacher registered under an education law of that jurisdiction, proof of the current registration under that law.

For applications to the NSW regulatory authority, the applicant’s working with children clearance number or a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

For applications to the Queensland regulatory authority, a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

Except for applications to the Queensland regulatory authority:

  1. a copy of the applicant’s current working with vulnerable people check, or
  2. a criminal history record check issued not more than six months before the date of the application, and a criminal history statement in relation to the period after the date on which the check was issued, to the date of the application.

If the applicant lived and worked outside Australia at any time within the previous three years, an overseas criminal history statement made by the applicant

A disciplinary proceedings statement made by the applicant

A bankruptcy declaration made by the applicant.

Table II

Information that must be included in an application for provider approval made by a person other than an individual (for example, an association or corporation) (regulation 15)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s name and any trading or other name used by the applicant

The applicant’s street address and postal address or, if there is more than one address, the street address and postal address of the applicant’s principal office

The name and contact details of the contact person for the purposes of the application

Documentary evidence of the legal status of the applicant and its constitution (for example, the partnership agreement for a partnership)

A financial declaration regarding the applicant

For each individual who will be a person with management or control of an education and care service to be operated by the applicant, the information set out in Table 1 must be included in an application for provider approval made by an individual.

Table III

Information that must be included in an application for provider approval by an executor who is an individual (regulation 20)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s full name, and any former or other name the applicant may be known by

The applicant’s residential address and contact details

The applicant’s date and place of birth

In relation to the current (deceased) approved provider:

  1. their full name
  2. provider approval number
  3. the date of their death
  4. a copy of the death certificate or other evidence of their death

The proposed duration of the provider approval (cannot exceed six months)

Proof of the applicant’s identity

In states excluding NSW or QLD, if the participating jurisdiction has a working with children law:

  1. if held by the applicant, a copy of their current working with children card or check, or
  2. if the applicant is a teacher registered under an education law of that jurisdiction, proof of the current registration under that law.

For applications to the NSW regulatory authority, the applicant’s working with children clearance number or a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

For applications to the Queensland regulatory authority, a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

Except for applications to the Queensland regulatory authority:

  1. a copy of the applicant’s current working with vulnerable people check, or
  2. a criminal history record check issued not more than six months before the date of the application, and a criminal history statement in relation to the period after the date on which the check was issued, to the date of the application.

If the applicant lived and worked outside Australia at any time within the previous three years, an overseas criminal history statement made by the applicant

A disciplinary proceedings statement made by the applicant

A bankruptcy declaration made by the applicant.

Table IV

Information which must be included in an application for provider approval by an executor who is not an individual (e.g. an association or corporation) (regulation 21)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s name and any other trading or other name they use

The applicant’s street and postal address, or if there is more than one address, the street and postal address of their principal office

The name and contact details for the purpose of the application

In relation to the deceased approved provider:

  1. their full name
  2. provider approval number
  3. the date of their death
  4. a copy of the death certificate or other evidence of their death

The proposed duration of the provider approval (cannot exceed six months) documentary evidence of the legal status of the applicants and its constitution (for example, the partnership agreement for a partnership)

A financial declaration regarding the applicant

For each individual who will be a person with management or control of an education and care service to be operated by the applicant, the information set out in Table 1 must be included in an application for provider approval made by an individual.

Table V

Information which must be included in an application for provider approval by a legal personal representative or guardian who is an individual (regulation 22)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s full name, and any former or other name the applicant may be known by

The applicant’s residential address and contact details

The applicant’s date and place of birth

The current approved provider’s full name and provider approval number

The proposed duration of the provider approval (cannot exceed six months)

In states excluding NSW or QLD, if the participating jurisdiction has a working with children law:

  1. if held by the applicant, a copy of their current working with children card or check, or
  2. if the applicant is a teacher registered under an education law of that jurisdiction, proof of the current registration under that law.

For applications to the NSW regulatory authority, the applicant’s working with children clearance number or a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

For applications to the Queensland regulatory authority, a copy of the applicant’s current working with children card or check.

Except for applications to the Queensland regulatory authority:

  1. a copy of the applicant’s current working with vulnerable people check, or
  2. a criminal history record check issued not more than six months before the date of the application, and a criminal history statement in relation to the period after the date on which the check was issued, to the date of the application.

If the applicant lived and worked outside Australia at any time within the previous three years, an overseas criminal history statement made by the applicant

A disciplinary proceedings statement made by the applicant

A bankruptcy declaration made by the applicant.

Table VI

Information which must be included in an application for provider approval by a legal personal representative or guardian who is not an individual (for example, a corporation or association) (regulation 23)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The applicant’s name and any other trading or other name they use

The applicant’s street and postal address, or if there is more than one address, the street and postal address of their principal office

The name and contact details for the purpose of the application

The current approved provider’s full name and provider approval number

Documentary evidence of the legal status of the applicant and its constitution (for example, the partnership agreement for a partnership)

A financial declaration regarding the applicant

The prescribed information set out at Table V above for each individual who will be a person with management or control.

Table VII

Information which must be included in an application to suspend provider approval (regulation 19)

(Note: The WA regulatory authority may not require all of the below information for an application for provider approval)

The approved provider’s full name

Their provider approval number

The name and contact details of the contact person for the application

The reasons for the suspension

The date on which the suspension is proposed to take effect, and the duration of the suspension

What is intended to happen to each service operated by the approved provider during the proposed suspension

A statement indicating that the approved provider has notified parents of children enrolled at their services of their intention to apply for a voluntary suspension.

Table VIII

Information that must be included in an application for service approval – centre-based service (regulations 24, 25)

The applicant’s full name and provider approval number (or the applicants contact details if the applicant has applied for a provider approval but the application has not yet been determined)

The name of the proposed education and care service

The proposed date on which the education and care service will start operating

If known, the contact details for the proposed service, including an after-hours telephone number

The proposed ages of children to be educated and cared for by the service

The proposed maximum number of children

The proposed hours and days of operations

A description of the nature of the service

The details of any associated children’s service for which approval is sought

A statement that the applicant has prepared the required policies and procedures as required by regulation 168, see Governance and Leadership

In relation to the person who will be the nominated supervisor for the service:

  1. their full name and contact details, including an after-hours telephone number
  2. their written consent to being the nominated supervisor for the service

The location and street address of the proposed service premises.

Table IX

Information that must be included in an application for service approval – centre-based service (regulations 24, 25, 25A)

Plans prepared by a building practitioner of the proposed service premises that show:*

  1. the location of all buildings, structures, outdoor play areas and shaded areas
  2. the location of all entries and exits
  3. the location of all fences and gates, specifying the type of fence or gate used or to be used
  4. the location of toilet and washing facilities, nappy changing areas and any food preparation areas
  5. the boundaries of the premises
  6. landscape of (or landscaping plans for) outdoor spaces that will be used by the service, specifying the natural environments that are (or will be) provided
  7. a floor plan indicating unencumbered indoor and outdoor spaces suitable for children
  8. the location of any associated children’s service
  9. calculations, carried out by a building practitioner, relating to unencumbered indoor and outdoor space (as set out in regulations 107–108)
  10. the elevation plans of the premises

If a swimming pool or other water hazard is situated on the proposed service premises, a copy of the service’s water safety policy

One of the following:

  1. a soil assessment for the site of the proposed service premises
  2. if relevant, a statement specifying the date of a previous soil assessment
  3. a statement from the applicant that, to the best of their knowledge, the site history does not indicate the site is likely to be contaminated in a way that poses an unacceptable risk to the health of children

For OSHC, if the approved provider is seeking to locate the early childhood education and care service on a school site, the regulatory authority may determine that a soil assessment is not required

If a planning permit is required under the state or territory planning and development law, a copy of the planning permit for the proposed service premises

A statement that the applicant has the right to occupy and use the premises, and any document evidencing this, for example, a lease of the premises

Unless the service premises is a government or registered school, one of the following:*

  1. a copy of an occupancy permit; certificate of final inspection; building certificate; certificate of classification; or building surveyor’s statement for the final construction and fit-out of the service premises
  2. a statement from a building practitioner that the service premises complies with the building requirements under state or territory building law or planning development law.
If the proposed service is to be located in a multi-storey building shared with other occupants, the storey(s) on which the service is proposed to be located and the total number of storeys in the building. If the service premises is to be located on more than one storey, the ages of the children on each storey.

* Regulatory authorities may waive this requirement if the approved provider is seeking: – to relocate the education and care service to alternative premises for not more than 12 months, or – to locate the education and care service on a school site.

Table X

Information that must be included in an application for service approval – family day care service (regulation 26)

The applicant’s full name and provider approval number (or the applicants contact details if the applicant has applied for a provider approval but the application has not yet been determined)

The name of the proposed service

The proposed date the service will start operating

If known, the contact details for the proposed principal office of the service, including an after-hours telephone number

The proposed hours and days of operation, including whether the service proposed to engage or register family day care educators who will provide overnight or weekend care

The proposed location and street address of the principal office of the service

The proposed number of family day care educators to be engaged by or register with the service within six months of operating

The states and territories and proposed local government areas where family day care educators expected to be engaged or registered with the service will provide education and care

The proposed number of family day care co-ordinators expected to be engaged by the service within six months of operating

A statement that the applicant has prepared the required policies and procedures (as required by regulation 168, see Operational Requirements)

A copy of the proposed policies and procedures for (required by regulation 169):

  1. assessment and approval, and reassessment of approved family day care venues and residences, including the requirements in regulation 116
  2. engagement or registration of family day care educators
  3. keeping a register of family day care educators
  4. monitoring, support and supervision of family day care educators, including how the service will manage educators at remote locations
  5. assessment of family day care educators, family day care educator assistants and persons residing at family day care residences, including the requirements in regulation 163
  6. visitors to family day care residences and venues while education and care is provided to children
  7. provision of information, assistance and training to family day care educators
  8. engagement or registration of family day care educator assistants

If the service will permit a family day care residence or venue with a swimming pool or a water hazard, a copy of a proposed water safety policy for the service (Note: swimming pools are prohibited in Tasmania for all education and care services)

In relation to the person who will be a nominated supervisor for the service: their full name and contact details, including an after-hours telephone number, and their written consent to being a nominated supervisor for the service

If the proposed family day care venue is to be located in a multi-storey building shared with other occupants, the storey(s) on which the venue is proposed to be located, and the total number of storey(s) in the building. If the venue will be located on more than one storey, the ages of the children on each storey
A statement that the applicant has the right to occupy and use the proposed premises as a principal office and any document evidencing this (e.g. a lease of the premises)
A statement that each family day care residence and venue will be located in this jurisdiction

If the application includes a request for a venue approval, include:

  1. the location and street address
  2. a statement that the applicant has the right to occupy and use the place as a family day care venue and any document evidencing this and
  3. an assessment (including any risk assessment) of the place conducted by the approved provider to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service are protected.

Table XI

Information that must be included in notification of transfer of service approval (regulations 36, 37)

Name of the education and care service

Service approval number

Transferring approved provider’s name, contact details and provider approval number

Receiving approved provider’s name, contact details and provider approval number

Date the transfer is intended to take effect

Any proposed changes in relation to the information required to be included in an application for service approval (see Table VIII for centre-based services, and Table IX for family day care services).

Table XII

Information that must be included in an application for voluntary suspension of service approval (regulation 40)

Name of the service

Service approval number

Name and contact details of the contact person for the application

Reasons for the suspension

Date on which the suspension is proposed to take effect and the duration

A statement indicating that the approved provider notified parents of children enrolled at the service (and any associated children’s service) of their intention to apply for a suspension at least 14 days before making the application.

Table XIII

Information that must be included in an application for a service waiver (regulation 42)

Name of the education and care service

Service approval number

Name and contact details for the contact person for the application

A statement that specifies:

  1. the regulations for which the service waiver is sought, and
  2. the way in which the service does not, or will not, comply with the specified regulations

Reasons the service is unable to comply, and details and evidence of any attempts made to comply with the specified regulations, or any other reasons why the service seeks the waiver

Measures being taken, or to be taken, to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service while the waiver is in force.

Table XIV

Information that must in included in an application for a temporary waiver (regulation 45)

Name of the education and care service

Service approval number

Name and contact details for the contact person for the application

A statement that specifies:

  1. the regulations for which the service waiver is sought, and
  2. the way in which the service does not, or will not, comply with the specified regulations

Reasons the service is unable to comply, and details and evidence of any attempts made to comply with the specified regulations

Period for which the temporary waiver is sought (up to 12 months)

Details of steps being taken, or that will be taken, to comply with the specified regulations

Measures being taken, or to be taken, to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by the service while the waiver is in force.

3.4 Application to use indoor space as outdoor space

National Regulations, Regulation 108 ]

The approved provider of a centre-based service or a family day care venue, which educates and cares for children over preschool age, may apply to the regulatory authority to include an area of unencumbered indoor space in calculating the outdoor space at the service.

Approval (if granted) must be in writing. An application may be made with the initial application for service approval, or at a later time. Regulatory authorities consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

Considering an application

When making a decision on an application, regulatory authorities will balance the objectives of the legislation to prioritise children’s safety, health and developmental outcomes, with the interests of providers to offer services, and for families to have access to those services.

When reviewing the application, the regulatory authority may consider the:

  • number and ages of children and the time spent at the service
  • physical elements of the space
  • proportion of indoor space to be included in the outdoor space.
These factors are not criteria that must be satisfied for an application to be approved. Regulatory authorities must consider each application on its merits.

Number and ages of children and the time spent at the service

Regulatory authorities may consider the ages of the children at the service and what proportion of children are over preschool age. Indoor space can only be calculated as outdoor space when children over preschool age are being educated and cared for at the service.

The amount of time children spend at the service will also be considered.

Using indoor space in calculating outdoor space is more likely to be appropriate at an outside school hours care service where children are only at the service for a couple of hours each morning and/or afternoon, than at a vacation care service, where children attend from 8am to 5pm each day.

Physical elements of the space

Regulatory authorities may consider how the indoor space can be used. For example, can the indoor space be safely used for activities which would ordinarily be done outside, such as throwing a ball, skipping or running? Regulatory authorities may look at flooring, whether any glass areas are or can be protected, and whether the space is sufficiently lit and ventilated for physical activity.

Where the space is intended to be used for these types of activities, such as gymnasiums or halls, or where they can be safely used for these types of activities, they may be suitable to be included in calculating outdoor space.

Proportion of indoor space to be included in calculating outdoor space

The greater the proportion of indoor space that will be included in calculating outdoor space, the more important it will be for the regulatory authority to be satisfied that the space can be used for activities which would typically be undertaken outside.

If an application is refused

If an application is refused, the approved provider may apply for a service or temporary waiver (see Waivers for more information).

3.5 Application to use a verandah as indoor space

National Regulations, Regulation 107 ]

There must be at least 3.25 square metres of unencumbered indoor space for each child being educated and cared for at a centre-based or family day care venue. An approved provider can apply to the regulatory authority to use a verandah as indoor space.

The application may be made with the initial application for service approval, or at a later time.

Considering an application

The regulatory authority will determine applications on a case-by-case basis.

In some climates and in some buildings, verandah space may be a preferable space for children to carry out indoor play activities. Regulatory authorities will balance the health, safety and wellbeing of children with the intent of the legislation to allow suitable verandahs to be included in indoor space calculations.

Services in Queensland

 QLD  Approval in Queensland is subject to evidence from a building practitioner which demonstrates that the verandah meets the requirements under the relevant building code to be classed as indoor space. A building practitioner may impose requirements on a provider to enable such evidence to be provided (such as requiring the installation of waterproof blinds) and to ensure the space can be considered 'indoors'.

Services in Tasmania

  TAS  The Early Childhood Centre and School Age Care Facilities Code restricts the Tasmanian regulatory authority from approving verandahs as indoor space, due to the climate.

Services in all other states and territories

All other regulatory authorities may consider the following factors in approving a verandah as indoor space:

  • the square metres of usable and unencumbered space
  • taking into account the physical elements of the space, such as adequate flooring, roofing and the shape of the space, and whether there are significant periods of the year in which the space will be unsuitable
  • taking into account year round weather conditions, community expectations of suitability and measures available to manage climate, such as air conditioning, heating and weatherproofing.

Regulatory authorities may refuse applications if children are at risk of overcrowding because the verandah is unsuitable for indoor play activities for a significant period of time.

These factors are not criteria that must be satisfied for an application to be approved. Regulatory authorities must consider each application on its merits.

Minimum space requirements

There are no minimum space requirements for verandahs to be approved as indoor space.

Building requirements

  QLD  All regulatory authorities (excluding Queensland) do not need to consider building approvals when assessing applications for verandahs to be included in indoor space calculations.

Light and ventilation

The requirements for natural light, ventilation and temperature that apply to indoor spaces do not apply to verandahs.

Supervision

Adequate supervision is a consideration for any part of the service premises where children are educated and cared for. Supervision does not generally form part of the considerations for assessing whether verandahs are counted towards indoor or outdoor space. Regulatory authorities may consider supervision in cases where the approved provider alters, or intends to alter, the service premises as part of making a verandah suitable as an indoor space (see Operational Requirements – Physical Environment).

Section 3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating

Introduction

The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a national benchmark for the quality of education and care services and includes seven quality areas that are important to outcomes for children:

QA1

Educational program and practice

QA2

Children’s health and safety

QA3

Physical environment

QA4

Staffing arrangements

QA5

Relationships with children

QA6

Collaborative partnerships with families and communities

QA7

Governance and leadership

Each quality area has two standards, except quality area one, which has three standards. These standards are high-level outcome statements. Under each standard are elements that describe the outcomes that contribute to the standard being achieved. Each standard and element is represented by concepts that support education and care services to navigate and reflect on the NQS.

The quality standards are also underpinned by regulatory standards. The NQS is a schedule within the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

The rating system

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

The process of assessing and rating a service is a combined approach of quality assurance and regulatory compliance.

See the National Quality Standard for more information about the NQS and Operational Requirements for the underpinning regulatory requirements.

Quality ratings

The ratings are:

  • Excellent rating, awarded by ACECQA
  • Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard
  • Significant Improvement Required

The quality ratings must be displayed at the service. A ratings certificate, which outlines the overall rating of the service and the current rating levels for each quality area, must also be clearly visible from the main entrance at each FDC residence or venue used to provide education and care to children as part of a family day care service. These ratings are also published on the national registers on the ACECQA website (www.acecqa.gov.au).

See more information about how ratings are determined and guidance on Exceeding NQS in the Assessment and Rating section.

Quality improvement

Ongoing self-assessment against the NQS drives continuous improvement and is essential to providing quality outcomes for children.

Each service must have a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) in place. The QIP identifies areas for improvement and includes a statement of philosophy for the service.

See Assessment and Rating for more information about self-assessment and quality improvement planning.
See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

Assessment and rating process

Authorised officers from the regulatory authority will:

  • review service information (compliance history, rating and assessment history)
  • review a service’s QIP
  • visit the service premises to assess and rate the service.
See Assessment and Rating for more information.

When visiting the service, the authorised officer will collect evidence in the following ways:

 

Observe – what children, families, educators, co-ordinators and staff members are doing (for example, engaging in caring, friendly and respectful interactions)

 

Discuss – why and how particular practices occur at the service, with the approved provider, nominated supervisor, educators, co-ordinators, family day care educators, assistants or staff members

 

Sight – documentation provided as evidence to support particular practices at the service (for example, records of attendance, enrolment records, policies and procedures, meeting minutes, safety checklists, newsletters, photos, collections of children’s work and documentation of child assessments or evaluations).

Each service is unique and the ways in which the elements and standards are met will be determined by the service context, including the service environment; the needs, interests, strengths and capabilities of the children attending the service; and the needs of families and the wider community.

National Quality Standard

This chapter describes the National Quality Standard. It includes information about practice, programs, environments and policies at the meeting the National Quality Standard level and questions to prompt reflection on the quality of education and care practice. Examples of what an authorised officer might observe, sight and discuss are outlined for each of the 40 National Quality Standard elements.

Exceeding Themes (see Exceeding NQS Theme Guidance)

This chapter also provides guidance to assist services and authorised officers consider whether a service is Exceeding National Quality Standard.

Exceeding National Quality Standard requires a service to go above and beyond what is expected at the Meeting National Quality Standard level for that Standard.

The higher benchmark for quality that is expected at the Exceeding NQS rating level is described by three Exceeding themes. To determine if a service meets this benchmark, authorised officers ask questions of the evidence they have gathered for each Standard against the Exceeding themes. This chapter describes the Exceeding themes, and provides guidance to assist authorised officers and services. That guidance includes questions to help guide services’ reflections for each of the 15 Quality Standards.

Additionally, questions used by authorised officers in reviewing whether evidence establishes Exceeding practice are provided for each of the three Exceeding Themes. Authorised officers will measure and analyse evidence they have gathered against each of these questions. Authorised officers need to determine an answer of ‘yes’ against all questions in all Exceeding themes for any Standard to be rated Exceeding NQS.

A list of publications for further reading can be found on the ACECQA website at www.acecqa.gov.au.

Exceeding NQS Theme Guidance

To achieve a rating of Exceeding NQS for any Standard, the Exceeding themes need to be demonstrated in service practice for that Standard:

  1. Practice is embedded in service operations
  2. Practice is informed by critical reflection
  3. Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

This section describes each of the three Exceeding themes. It includes indicators and questions to assist services and authorised officers consider whether the quality of practice they observe is at the Exceeding NQS level. Further information on what is expected for each Standard is provided throughout the Guide.

The delivery of the NQF is guided by set objectives and guidelines to ensure consistent and effective function. 

Exceeding Theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

Overview

At the Exceeding level for any Standard, high quality practice is demonstrated consistently and frequently across the service. It is interwoven through all aspects of the program and is visible, directly or indirectly, in many forms.

At the Exceeding level, educators’ embedded practice is consistent with what is considered high quality practice in relation to the Standard. When practice is ‘embedded’ this means it is usual practice for the Standard. Members of the service team know and understand what is expected in regard to high quality practice for the Standard and consistently work at this level as appropriate for their role and responsibilities within the service.

When high quality practice is embedded, it is reflected across the service’s operations and systems. Observed and discussed practices align with the service’s philosophy, the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s, and policies and procedures that relate to the Standard.

At the Exceeding level, educators demonstrate a deep understanding of pedagogy. This leads to exemplary practice such as embedding high quality practice throughout service provisions, underpinning all practice with critical reflection and creating contextually appropriate practice for the service community. When educators demonstrate this they are able to link their practice with the National Quality Standards and the reasons behind this approach, in particular how it connects to the service philosophy and broader vision for quality.

Fundamentally, educators understand the themes of exceeding for high quality practice and for the purpose of improving learning and development outcomes for children.

What we aim to achieve with Exceeding Theme 1

When the service team approaches practice with a shared sense of understanding, purpose and agency, this creates a stable, high quality education and care environment that benefits children, families, and the broader service community.

The underlying consistency in intent and approach to practice across the service helps to create a sense of continuity, predictability, and security for each child. A consistent approach to practice does not mean that practice is rigid, unchanging, unreflective, or habit-based. Rather, practice is of high quality, thoughtful and intentional, but is also responsive to the everyday flow of events.

Understanding what is expected and why provides a basis for ongoing discussions about practice, and for ensuring systems are in place to re-think and refine practice, contributing to continuous quality improvement over time.

Assessment indicators for Exceeding Theme 1

Services may demonstrate Exceeding level practice for Standards in a variety of ways that suit their particular operating environment and approach to practice. The following list of indicators is designed to assist services and authorised officers to consider if practice is demonstrated at the Exceeding NQS level.

  • Quality practice is demonstrated consistently and frequently across the service at all times.
  • Members of the service team, as appropriate to their role and responsibilities within the service:
    • understand what is expected in regard to quality practice for the Standard and work consistently at this level
    • are able to explain how their practice in relation to the Standard connects to the service’s philosophy and supports the service’s broader vision for quality
    • are thoughtful and intentional in their practice for the Standard and respond confidently to the daily flow of events.
  • Observed and discussed practice aligns with the service’s philosophy, the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s and programs in place, and any policies and procedures that underpin practice for the Standard.

Questions used by authorised officers to establish Exceeding NQS practice

Exceeding Theme 1

  • Are high quality practices consistent across the service for this Standard?

If so:

  • Does the service have processes to ensure consistent high quality practices are in place regardless of the staffing or situation on any given day?
  • Do staff/educators have a shared understanding of the service’s approach to high quality practice for the Standard?
  • Are you ‘seeing’ usual high quality practice in line with the service philosophy throughout the day? Consider in relation to all aspects of the Standard. Where relevant, this will include during:
    • meal times;
    • rest times; and
    • transition times.

A tailored list of reflective questions for services for each Standard is included in the National Quality Standard.

Exceeding Theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

Overview

Critical reflection means continually thinking about, questioning, analysing and re-evaluating practice to identify where further improvements could be made for educators, children and families. It involves engaging with diverse perspectives and evaluating these in context, leading to pedagogical decisions and actions that are transformative. 

Critical reflection informs future practice in ways that demonstrate an understanding of each child’s learning, development and wellbeing, and have implications for equity and social justice (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

At the Exceeding level for any Standard, members of the service team engage in ongoing critical reflection on their practice, as appropriate for their role and responsibilities within the service. Individually and as a team they:

  • ask why and how questions of themselves and each other, such as:
    • Why do we do that?
    • Why do we do it in this way?
    • How does this practice contribute to improved outcomes for all children and families?
    • Does this practice advantage some children and families and disadvantage others?
    • Does this practice include any stereotyping, bias or inequity?
    • Does this practice need to change?
    • How can we improve this practice?
  • consider the theoretical perspectives underpinning their actions and decision-making
  • seek different views and opinions and are open to exploring possibilities that they may not have previously considered
  • draw on various sources of knowledge and research evidence, and evaluate these sources for their credibility and relevance as well as their ‘fit’ to the context of the service
  • consider the rationale behind new ideas and practices to assess if they align with the approved learning framework and the philosophy of the service.

Respect, trust and collegiality are valued so that all members of the service team are able to raise concerns, ask difficult questions, challenge the way things are currently done, and create change in the approach to practice across the service.

The service is responsive to issues, incidents, complaints or feedback. All members of the service team are willing to reconsider their views and re-evaluate their practice, and are mindful of their responsibility to make ethical and well-informed decisions.

What we aim to achieve with Exceeding Theme 2

Engaging in critical reflection supports the service team to make well-informed decisions and plans, to implement and evaluate carefully considered changes to their practice, and to respond with integrity to complex situations and challenges. It also assists them to articulate the reasons for their decisions and practices and to be accountable to children, families, colleagues and communities for their choice of approaches.

Continuously reflecting on practice assists educators to become increasingly thoughtful about their work and motivated to explore new ideas and approaches. Reflective practice supports educators to continue their ongoing professional learning by further developing their knowledge, skills and practices. It also encourages them to stay focussed on continuous quality improvement to improve outcomes for children.

Assessment indicators for Exceeding Theme 2

Services may demonstrate Exceeding level practice for standards in a variety of ways that suit their particular operating environment and approach to practice. The following list of indicators is designed to assist services and authorised officers to consider if practice reflects critical reflection as expected at the Exceeding NQS level.

  • Practice is systematically and regularly reflected on and implications for further improvements are purposefully identified and implemented.
  • Ongoing learning and quality improvements occur through a systematic cycle of inquiry.
  • All members of the service team, as appropriate to their role and responsibilities:
    • are aware of the influences on their practice including the key theoretical perspectives identified in the approved learning framework/s and are able to describe how they draw on these in their work
    • can identify personal, professional and organisational values in relation to practice
    • are comfortable raising concerns and challenging the way things are done, with the expectation that their views will be valued and considered
    • are mindful of their responsibility to make ethical and informed decisions
    • consider the social justice and equity implications of their practice.
  • Decision-making processes draw on diverse perspectives, which are considered in relation to how they align with the service philosophy and the approved learning framework/s used at the service.
  • Reasons for decisions that result in changes to practice are clearly understood by all.
  • The service is responsive to issues, incidents, complaints or feedback, and these inform ongoing quality improvement.

Questions used by authorised officers to establish Exceeding NQS practice

Exceeding Theme 2

  • Is the service reflecting on its practice for this Standard?

If so:

  • Is it critical reflection? Critical reflection may:
    • involve robust debate;
    • reference theorists, or current research or information from outside the service;
    • incorporate social justice considerations;
    • hypothesise, test and evaluate different approaches to doing things;
    • aid the service in responding to complex situations, challenges and expectations;
    • involve more than repetition of events that occurred, identifies underlying concepts of significance.
  • Can decisions about practice at the service be linked back to critical reflection, and is this evident in observable practice?
  • Have staff/educators, relevant to their roles and responsibilities, shown:
    • a clear understanding of the reasons behind any changes to their practice or continuation of their current practice?
    • the ability to articulate what they are doing and why?

A tailored list of reflective questions for services for each Standard is included in the National Quality Standard.

Exceeding Theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

Overview

At the Exceeding level for any Standard, practice is informed by meaningful engagement with children, families and the community and is suited to the unique context of the service.

Educators learn from, and build on the strengths of children, families, colleagues and the community. They view secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships as crucial to gaining a greater understanding of the priorities and aspirations of children, families and the community. Educators recognise, respect and build on the primary role of families in their own child’s learning and development.

Educators seek deeper insights into the funds of knowledge, capacities, expertise and resources within families, the community and colleagues, including professionals from local support agencies. Educators look for opportunities to build purposeful collaborations and partnerships that utilise and extend these strengths in ways that contribute to achieving the aspirations and priorities of children, families and the service.

Respect for different perspectives is central to the culture of the service. This respect is evident in the way educators seek input, guidance and feedback from all involved in the service, including children. Educators are committed to listening to children’s voices and to trying to understand their perspectives so that they can honour children’s rights to have input into matters that affect them.

Each service has a unique context that is shaped by its families, community and location. Diversity in factors such as language, cultural identity, child rearing practices, values and beliefs contributes to the unique depth and complexity of each service. At the Exceeding level for any Standard, practice is suited to and draws inspiration from this unique context. The service team is culturally responsive and inclusive, modelling and actively promoting respect and valuing of diversity with children, families, colleagues and the community.

Educators demonstrate a genuine commitment to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum. Being culturally responsive includes respecting and working collaboratively with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. Cultural responsiveness is evident in everyday practice when educators demonstrate an ongoing commitment to developing their own cultural knowledge in a three-way process with children, families and communities (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators take every opportunity to extend children’s understanding of their local context and of their wider world.

What we aim to achieve with Exceeding Theme 3

Services that demonstrate that they are Exceeding the NQS do so in ways that are unique to the children, families and context of their service. Educators consider the children and families who are using the service as well as the particular characteristics, priorities and strengths of the local community when planning, delivering and reflecting on everyday practice. This results in practice that is tailored and responsive to the needs of the children, families and community.

Children learn and develop in the different contexts in which they live. They are more likely to be confident and involved learners when they see connections and experience continuity of learning between their different contexts. Drawing on the strengths of the service context fosters a culture of inclusiveness that enhances families’ sense of belonging, making it more likely that they will sustain their engagement with the service. It also provides opportunities for children to develop a sense of identity, to actively participate and see themselves as agents of change in a tolerant and diverse world.

Assessment indicators for Exceeding Theme 3

Services may demonstrate Exceeding level practice for Standards in a variety of ways that suit their particular operating environment and approach to practice. The following list of indicators is designed to assist services and authorised officers to consider if practice reflects meaningful engagement with families and/or the community and suits the unique context of the service as expected at the Exceeding NQS level.

  • Practice reflects, utilises and builds on the unique strengths and priorities of children and families at the service.
  • The service actively builds and maintains relationships with families and/or community partners, drawing on a range of communication strategies to support meaningful participation by all.
  • Opportunities are regularly provided for family and/or community partners to meaningfully participate in service decisions and solve problems.
  • Practice suits the unique environmental context and/or location of the service.
  • Practice reflects the cultural and community context of the service.
  • The voices of children are valued and taken into account.
  • Practice fosters a sense of inclusiveness and belonging for children, families, the service team, and the broader community.

Questions used by authorised officers to establish Exceeding NQS practice

Exceeding Theme 3

  • Does the service engage with families and/or the community (local communities, community organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and local support agencies) in relation to this Standard?

If so:

  • Is the engagement meaningful? Meaningful engagement may, but does not have to:
    • be consistent and ongoing;
    • make families and/or the community integral in the decision-making process;
    • involve actively seeking and carefully considering and valuing family and community feedback;
    • result in shared decision making and problem solving;
    • foster a culture of inclusiveness and sense of belonging;
    • result in practice that is tailored and responsive to the needs of the children, families and the community.
  • Does this meaningful engagement inform and shape practice?
  • Does the way in which the service engages with families and/or the community reflect the service and its context?

A tailored list of reflective questions for services for each Standard is included in the National Quality Standard.

Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice

Overview

Quality Area 1 of the National Quality Standard focuses on ensuring that the educational program and practice of educators are child-centred, stimulating and maximise opportunities for enhancing and extending each child’s learning, development and wellbeing. It recognises that a quality program that builds on children’s individual knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests is likely to have long term benefits for children and for the broader society.

In all settings, the approved provider, nominated supervisor and educational leader are responsible for ensuring that programs for all children are based on an approved learning framework and delivered in accordance with that framework.

The National Quality Standard is linked to two national approved learning frameworks that recognise children learn from birth.

The approved learning frameworks guide:

  • the development of programs that promote children and young people’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • the pedagogical and critically reflective practices of educators
  • a planned and reflective approach to assessment, evaluation and planning for each child
  • educators to deepen their understanding and application of culturally responsive practice
  • the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders perspectives in all educators' philosophy and practice (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 
Cultural responsiveness
Cultural responsiveness is a contemporary way to think about culture and enables individuals and organisations to be respectful of everyone’s backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs, knowledges, lifestyles and social behaviours. Being culturally responsive includes a genuine commitment to take action against discrimination in any form, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum and working collaboratively with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. The approved learning frameworks ask educators to move beyond cultural competence to cultural responsiveness. Cultural responsiveness is characterised by respect for cultures that are not your own, ongoing self-reflection, continued learning and a commitment to improving professional practice in this area. 

For further guidance on culturally responsive practice, see ACECQA's information sheets on Cultural Responsiveness

A quality educational program views children and young people as capable and competent learners who have agency and learn best through a play-based program. The learning frameworks also acknowledge the importance of intentionally including opportunities for children to progress towards the learning outcomes (for more information about learning outcomes, see Element 1.1.1.

Play provides a context and a process for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds as they engage actively with people, objects and representations (Early Years Learning Framework).

Play-based learning and intentionality:

  • provides opportunities for multimodal play, and for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise, test theories and imagine
  • builds a sense of identity and enables expressions of personality and uniqueness
  • enhances thinking skills and promotes positive learning dispositions towards learning, such as curiosity and creativity
  • strengthens self-regulation, and physical and mental wellbeing
  • enables children to make connections between prior experiences and new learning
  • assists children to develop relationships and concepts
  • supports a sense of wellbeing and promotes a valuing of diversity (Early Years Learning Framework).

In school age care services, the educational program reflects an understanding of middle childhood. The program supports learning through play and leisure when educators act with intentionality to nurture the development of life skills and ensure that the program complements children’s experiences, opportunities and relationships at school, at home and in the community.

In all services, educators draw on their pedagogy, knowledge of individual children, the approved learning frameworks, the National Quality Standard and the underpinning law and regulations when designing contextual programs and considering practices they will use. With their knowledge of the children and families using the service, and the community in which they are located, educators make informed decisions about how to meet the Standards.

Educators take a planned and reflective approach to implementing the educational program by using an assessment and planning cycle and engaging with critical reflection to evaluate and improve the program and practice. Educators share the program with families and ensure families are informed of their child’s learning and development progress.

Services facilitate children and young people’s learning, development and wellbeing through play by providing:

  • educators with whom children can form attachments
  • educators who use a range of intentional practices and interactions to encourage children’s problem solving and thinking skills
  • welcoming and inclusive learning environments that are flexible, responsive and foster all children’s agency and engagement with the natural and built worlds
  • indoor and outdoor spaces, materials and resources that address barriers to learning and incorporate reasonable adjustments* 
  • opportunities for all children to learn on Country and seek information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connections and relationships with Country (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
  • access to a range of resources that children can use in a variety of ways to enrich and extend their play
  • uninterrupted and prolonged periods of time to follow their interests.

*A reasonable adjustment is a measure or action taken by approved providers and educators to assist children with disability to participate in education and care on the same basis as children without disability.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, an adjustment is reasonable unless making the adjustment would impose an unjustifiable hardship on the person. In an education and care setting, a reasonable adjustment balances the interests of all parties affected, including the child with disability, the approved provider, educators and other children.

See ACECQA resources for more information about making reasonable adjustments, including examples in practice, and other obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

 

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 1 has three Standards that focus on the educational program, educational practice, and assessment and planning for each child’s learning and development. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • an educational program that is based on an approved learning framework, is child-centred and maximises learning opportunities strongly contributes to children’s development as competent and engaged learners
  • intentionality is a recognised approach to facilitate each child’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • responsive teaching values, scaffolds and extends each child’s strengths, skills, knowledge, interests and ideas, and child directed learning promotes children’s agency
  • evaluation practices, including critical reflection, informs the assessment and planning cycle and drives improvement in curriculum process and in educational program and practice, resulting in continuous enhancements to children’s learning
  • families who are informed about the program and their child’s progress are better equipped to engage with the service and collaboratively make decisions that strengthen their child’s learning, development and wellbeing.
Standard/ ElementsConceptDescriptor
QA1 Educational program and practice
1.1ProgramThe educational program enhances each child’s learning and development.
1.1.1Approved learning frameworkCurriculum decision-making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.
1.1.2Child-centredEach child’s current knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program.
1.1.3Program learning opportunitiesAll aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning.
1.2PracticeEducators facilitate and extend each child’s learning and development.
1.2.1Intentional teachingEducators are deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.
1.2.2Responsive teaching and scaffoldingEducators respond to children’s ideas and play and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions and feedback.
1.2.3Child directed learningEach child's agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions that influence events and their world.
1.3Assessment and planningEducators and co-ordinators take a planned and reflective approach to implementing the program for each child.
1.3.1Assessment and planning cycleEach child’s learning and development is assessed or evaluated as part of an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection.
1.3.2Critical reflectionCritical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, drives program planning and implementation.
1.3.3Information for familiesFamilies are informed about the program and their child's progress.

Standard 1.1: Program

The educational program enhances each child’s learning and development.

How Standard 1.1 contributes to quality education and care

Quality educational programs use an approved learning framework to guide curriculum decision-making and facilitate a shared understanding of children’s learning, development and wellbeing. This enables everyone involved in the service to share their perspectives, understanding of, and support for quality education and care practices.

With support from the approved provider and nominated supervisor, the educational leader collaborates with educators in designing an educational program that enables educators to work with children and families to achieve optimal learning, developmental and wellbeing outcomes for children.

With guidance from the educational leader, educators:

  • use an approved learning framework to underpin their everyday practice. The framework guides interactions with children and families and provides the basis for educators’ pedagogical decision-making, including the experiences that are planned for children and the teaching and learning that occurs
  • develop the educational program based on their knowledge of each child so that the interactions, experiences, routines and events that each child engages in are relevant to them, respectful of their background and recognise and build on their current strengths, abilities and interests
  • evaluate and critically reflect on the effectiveness of their planning and implementation of curriculum for children’s learning
  • create culturally safe spaces and provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people to see themselves, their identities and cultures reflected in their environment
  • embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the philosophy of the setting, and their planning and implementation of curriculum (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
  • ensure that the interactions, experiences, routines and events included in the educational program maximise opportunities for children’s learning
  • create inclusive learning environments and make reasonable adjustments to optimise participation and engagement in learning for children
  • recognise and respond to barriers that some children face, including attitudinal and practical barriers, to support all children’s inclusion (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.1 (for all services)

Educational program

 
  • How do we develop our understanding of the approved learning framework that we use in our service to foster learning outcomes for all children and young people?
  • How do we support all children to progress towards the learning outcomes?
  • How do we learn about each child’s knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests?
  • How do we make decisions about children’s daily experiences and routines, and who is involved in making these decisions?
  • How do we use the learning outcomes to guide our goals and subsequent planning for individual children and groups of children?
  • How do we plan and implement educational programs that are relevant and engaging for children?
  • How do we ensure that experiences and routines are child-centred rather than adult-directed or clock-driven?
  • How do we support every child’s meaningful participation and engagement in the program, including making reasonable adjustments to assist children with disability?
  • How do we identify and respond to barriers (including attitudinal and practical barriers) to learning that some children are experiencing?
  • What experiences do we provide for children to work independently and collaboratively?
  • How do we use conversations and interactions with children to make routine times enjoyable and meaningful learning opportunities?

Birth to three

  • How do we develop a shared understanding of the learning outcomes and their importance to families?
  • How do we ensure that children develop strong attachments and a sense of belonging in our service?
  • How do we apply our knowledge of learning and development, and the content of the learning framework to this age group?

School age children

  • How do we incorporate learning outcomes into leisure opportunities and the everyday experiences we provide?
  • How do we provide problem-solving, inquiry and challenge based learning experiences for children to support their prior learning?
  • How do we provide a differentiated curriculum that supports children and young people's varying capabilities, learning styles and interests?

Family day care

  • How do we incorporate the learning outcomes into everyday activities that children experience in the residence?
  • What other activities or experiences can be incorporated into our program to ensure a range of learning opportunities for all children?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Element 1.1.1: Approved learning framework

Curriculum decision-making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicator

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 1.1.1

Section 51(1)(b) Conditions on service approval (educational and developmental needs of children)

Section 168 Offence relating to required programs

Regulation 73 Educational program

What Element 1.1.1 aims to achieve

An approved learning framework guides the development of the curriculum at an education and care service and supports curriculum decision-making as an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing and interpreting learning, documentation, planning, implementation and critical reflection and evaluation. Curriculum decision-making is guided by the vision, principles, practices and learning outcomes of the approved learning framework. This involves educators drawing on their pedagogy and their in-depth knowledge and understanding of each child to intentionally foster and nurture children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

The educational leader and educators use an approved learning framework and the service philosophy to consider the service’s approach to learning, development and wellbeing, and the way in which these guide everyday practice and development of the education program.

Approved learning frameworks

The Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care (and other jurisdiction-approved learning frameworks) include the vision, principles, practices and learning outcomes that guide educational leaders and educators in their curriculum decision-making, and assist them in planning, delivering and evaluating quality programs in early and middle childhood settings.

The Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care) promote five learning outcomes that are designed to capture the integrated and complex learning and development of all children and young people. These are:

  1. Children and young people have a strong sense of identity
  2. Children and young people are connected with and contribute to their world
  3. Children and young people have a strong sense of wellbeing
  4. Children and young people are confident and involved learners
  5. Children and young people are effective communicators

The learning outcomes are broad and observable. They acknowledge that children and young people learn in a variety of ways and vary in their strengths, interests, capabilities and pace of learning. The frameworks include examples of how children’s progress towards the outcomes may be evident as well as suggestions for how educators may work to promote these outcomes (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

When using the learning outcomes for planning, educators can modify them to meet the requirements of learners in their learning spaces. Approved providers and educators have inclusion obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and make reasonable adjustments for all learning outcomes to ensure learning engagement for all children (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

The Early Years Learning Framework aims to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth through the transition to school. The Educators’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework supports the educational leader and educators to deliver programs that enhance learning and developmental outcomes for each child.

The Framework for School Age Care is strongly linked to the Early Years Learning Framework and extends the vision, principles, practices and outcomes to children and young people who attend school age care services. The framework is based on the notion that educators collaborate with children and young people to provide play and leisure opportunities that are meaningful to children, and support their wellbeing, learning and development. The Educators’ Guide to the Framework for School Age Care supports the educational leader and educators to deliver such programs.

Another approved learning framework is the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework.

Curriculum decision-making

Based on knowledge gained from observing children and contributions from their families, educators (together with the educational leader) use the learning framework’s vision, principles, practices and outcomes to plan for each child’s learning, development and wellbeing. Children’s learning is ongoing and each child will progress towards outcomes in different and equally meaningful ways (Early Years Learning Framework).

As children participate in everyday life, they develop knowledge and interests and construct their own identities and understandings of the world (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators make curriculum decisions that uphold all children’s rights including the right to have their identities, knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests acknowledged and valued in the context of their families and communities (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators in school age settings recognise that children’s learning, while participating in play and leisure opportunities, complements their learning at home and at school.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.1.1 (for all services)

Curriculum decision-making

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children displaying behaviours and engaging in activities consistent with the evidence for outcomes described in the approved learning frameworks— for example, children:
    • expressing a wide range of emotions, thoughts and views constructively
    • exploring aspects of identity through role play
    • expressing opinions in matters that affect them
    • being empowered to make choices and solve problems to meet their needs
    • working collaboratively with others
    • moving around and through their environments confidently and safely
    • being curious and enthusiastic participants in their learning
    • using play to investigate, imagine and explore ideas
    • conveying and constructing messages with purpose and confidence
    • recognising and engaging with written and oral culturally constructed texts
    • developing strong foundations in the culture and language/s of their family and of the broader community (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).
  • educators providing experiences for children that actively promote or initiate the investigation of ideas, complex concepts and thinking, reasoning and hypothesising by, for example:
    • talking explicitly about phonological concepts, such as rhyme, letters and sounds when sharing texts with children
    • engaging children in discussions about symbol systems, such as letters, numbers, time, money and musical notation
    • supporting children to contribute constructively to mathematical and scientific discussions and arguments
    • engaging children in exploration of creative and expressive arts such as musical rhythms or beats, or lines or shapes in visual arts
    • using everyday events as a basis for children’s exploration and learning about nature and science
    • supporting children to take on roles that use literacy and numeracy in their play (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).
  • educators consolidating and extending children’s communication by, for example:
    • engaging children in singing songs and playing with words and sounds
    • supporting children to convey and construct messages with purpose and confidence, building on home/family and community languages
    • developing children’s language and thinking by:
      • building vocabulary, having language-rich communication exchanges between educators and children
      • promoting expressive aspects of children’s language
    • using alternative strategies and adapting practice to enhance communication with children with additional needs or disabilities, for example, using visual supports or sign language
    • providing opportunities for children to explore new information, investigate ideas and make meaning using a range of appropriate tools, media and technology (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for  School Age Care).
  • educators valuing children’s linguistic heritage and actively supporting children to be independent communicators who initiate home-language and English conversations, and who listen, respond and engage in conversation
  • educators providing a literacy-enriched environment that includes displaying print in home languages and in English

Birth to three

  • educators:
    • supporting and promoting early attempts of children to initiate interactions and conversations
    • acknowledging and responding sensitively to cues and signals from children
    • initiating one-to-one interactions with children during daily routines
  • children:
    • reaching out and communicating for comfort, assistance and companionship
    • being playful and responding positively to others
    • being given opportunities to learn and practice new skills

School age children

  • the educational leader and educators:
    • acknowledging and planning opportunities for children and young people to relax through play and leisure
    • incorporating children and young people's diverse experiences, perspectives, expectations, knowledge and skills in the program
    • implementing a cross curricula approach to develop children and young people's critical thinking and collaborative skills
    • empowering children and young people to take a leading role in planning and delivering the program.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how educators make curriculum decisions, including how they collaborate with children and families to ensure planning experiences are relevant and meaningful
  • how learning outcomes are promoted through the program and children’s experiences
  • how the service communicates learning outcomes for children with their families
  • how the service’s philosophy statement guides pedagogy and teaching decisions

School age children

  • strategies:
    • used by the service to ensure that all children and young people have a sense of belonging in the service, including regular and occasional attendees
    • used to ensure that the requirements and interests of children and young people attending on an irregular basis are reflected in the program planning and delivery

Family day care

  • how activities outside the home are incorporated to provide a range of experiences to support children in achieving the outcomes of the approved learning frameworks.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation that has been gathered in a variety of ways about children’s progress towards the learning outcomes and planning that establishes further learning goals
  • documented programs that include planned experiences and/or strategies to support individual children’s goals
  • documented programs demonstrating that the assessment and evaluation of the learning outcomes has led to goals being identified for the group of children that are designed to intentionally support aspects of learning

Family day care

  • documentation that:
    • supports the development of programs in a variety of ways based on the age, strengths, capabilities and interests of children, patterns of attendance and the grouping(s) of children
    • demonstrates that an assessment and evaluation of the learning outcomes has led to goals being identified for the group of children that intentionally support aspects of learning.

Element 1.1.2: Child-centred

Each child’s current knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 1.1.2

Section 168 Offence relating to required programs

What Element 1.1.2 aims to achieve

Educators seek information from families and use a variety of methods to gather information about each child’s knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests as the foundation of a child-centred educational program. The diversity of family experiences means that children and young people experience ‘belonging, being and becoming’ in many different ways. Children’s unique and diverse experiences, perspectives, expectations, knowledge and skills contribute to their learning (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, their spirituality is connected to Country, and the connection is strong. Providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to see themselves, their identities and cultures reflected in their environment is important for growing a strong identity, and a critical consideration in curriculum decision making (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

As children and young people participate in everyday life, they develop interests and build their identities and understanding of the world (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Learning about these unique aspects of each child and young person and identifying their individual strengths, capabilities and curiosities assists educators to make informed decisions about how to further support their learning development and wellbeing. Educators recognise and are responsive to children’s expertise, cultural traditions and ways of knowing, and the multiple languages spoken by some children, including by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Educators are also aware of and respond to strategies used by children with additional needs to negotiate their everyday lives (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

With support from the educational leader, educators plan and engage with children in a range of experiences where all children are active participants and decision makers. This supports the achievement of child-centred learning outcomes and promotes children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.1.2 (for all services)

Child-centred program

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • observing, listening and talking with children for sustained periods of time and paying close attention to what they are saying, thinking and doing
    • demonstrating flexibility in program delivery to incorporate children’s ideas, culture and interests to ensure that experiences are relevant and engaging
    • integrating children’s emerging ideas to support their participation in the program
    • demonstrating that they know each child’s individual learning styles and dispositions, temperament and interests
  • children:
    • initiating and contributing to play experiences that emerge from their own ideas and interests
    • repeating, revisiting and adding to projects or experiences that they have initiated
    • developing strong foundations in the culture and language of their family and in that of the broader community, without compromising their cultural identities
    • indicating their deep involvement in experiences that are rich and meaningful to them through verbal and non-verbal responses, and sustained concentration
    • exploring ideas and testing hypotheses and theories in play by using their imagination and creativity
    • engaging in play during long periods of uninterrupted time.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • educators’ current understanding of individual children’s knowledge, skills, strengths, culture, abilities, ideas and interests, and how they have developed this understanding of each child
  • how educators’ curriculum decision-making builds on each child’s knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests
  • how the educational leader and educators support decision-making, and review and discuss program planning
  • how educators support children to actively participate in experiences and guide their own learning.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • examples of how educators plan programs that are responsive to children’s knowledge, skills, strengths, culture, abilities, ideas and interests
  • evidence that information about each child, their family, culture and community is collected and used to plan programs
  • if required by the regulatory authority, evidence that information about each child, their family, culture and community is collected and used to plan programs that promote children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Element 1.1.3: Program learning opportunities

All aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning.

What Element 1.1.3 aims to achieve

All aspects of the educational program, including interactions, experiences, routines and events (both planned and unplanned) provide opportunities for children and young people's learning and development (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care), and for educators to interact with children and young people in meaningful ways that empower children’s choices and decision-making.

Educators adopt a holistic approach to planning and facilitating learning throughout the program, including during transitions and routines. Educators are alert to learning opportunities to extend children’s learning during planned and unplanned experiences. They support children to follow their interests and to engage in uninterrupted play. Educators create inclusive learning environments and adopt flexible and informed practices, including making reasonable adjustments to optimise access, participation and engagement in learning for all children across all aspects of the program. They ensure transitions support children and young people with additional needs, including children and young people with a disability or those experiencing barriers to learning. Educators actively involve children and young people in preparing for transitions (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Effective routines and transitions are designed to support children and are regarded as equally important as planned or spontaneous play experiences or group times. Routines, such as mealtimes or toileting, provide predictability to assist children to feel safe, secure and confident to explore and learn. Effective transitions promote continuity and predictability and support children’s sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.1.3 (for all services)

Program learning opportunities

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • participating collaboratively in events and experiences and having opportunities to contribute to decisions
    • having opportunities to revisit and discuss their learning during routines
    • taking an active role in planning for and being given choices during routines and transition times
    • directing and initiating learning experiences
    • engaged in a range of play experiences throughout the day
    • having opportunities to extend their interests, experiences and activities, such as being able to continue working on a construction or artwork

School age children

  • developing autonomy by taking increasing responsibility for self-help and basic health routines
  • supporting younger children to organise equipment, participate in learning experiences and understand behaviour expectations of the service
 
  • educators:
    • using all aspects of the program to undertake intentional teaching and support child directed learning
    • making decisions based on best learning outcomes for children rather than convenient options suited to educators
    • planning and implementing transitions and routines that support individual children’s preferences and requirements
    • minimising the times during which children are expected to do the same thing at the same time, or to wait for long periods without engaging in play or interactions

Birth to three

  • using routines and play experiences to interact with children to build attachments
  • initiating one-to-one interactions with children during routine activities to ensure these provide opportunities for positive interactions and learning

School age children

  • collaborating with children and young people about transitions, routines and procedures
  • encouraging children to guide younger children during routines

Family day care

  • incorporating learning experiences into everyday activities that occur in the residence, such as meal preparation and packing up.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service organises its program and routines to maximise opportunities for children’s learning
  • how the program and routines are adapted for children with additional needs, including children with a disability or those experiencing barriers to learning
  • how children are involved in program decision-making, contributing to the learning environment, assisting in everyday routines and transitions including menu planning and food preparation

School age children

  • strategies used by the service to encourage children and young people to take a leading role in designing the program and organising routines and transitions.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • policy documentation outlining routines and the written program, including examples of how educators plan programs that are maximising opportunities for learning.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 1.1: Program

Program

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 1.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at  https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, the concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • working collaboratively with the educational leader to consistently make curriculum decisions, including the organisation of daily routines and rituals, that maximise learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for every child in relation to their identity, connection with community, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators?
    • working collaboratively with the educational leader to consistently develop and implement a purposeful and responsive educational program that reflects and builds on the knowledge, skills, strengths, cultures, abilities, ideas and interests of each child?
    • confidently making curriculum decisions throughout the day, week or month to ensure each child’s learning and development is maximised?
  • Are all educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators able to explain how their approach to curriculum decision-making connects to:
    • the approved learning framework/s and enhances learning, development and wellbeing for each child?
    • the service philosophy and supports the service’s broader vision for quality?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to curriculum decision-making:
    • consistently align with the service philosophy?
    • consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to curriculum decision-making:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, theories and/or research evidence?
  • Is any change to the service’s approach to curriculum decision-making understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do all educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators regularly reflect, individually and with each other on:
    • opportunities to strengthen the educational program?
    • implementation of changes to the program to enhance children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes, including through the organisation of everyday rituals, daily routines and transitions?
    • the evolving knowledge, skills, strengths, cultures, abilities, ideas, and interests of children at the service, and how these inform planning and decisions making regarding the educational program?
    • social justice and equity implications of curriculum decisions to ensure that the program considers the circumstances and rights of every child at the service?
    • opportunities to cultivate deep respect for, and knowledge and valuing of, the cultural diversity of the broader community in the educational program, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge?
    • the theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings that contribute to their curriculum decisions, including the theoretical perspectives identified in the approved learning framework/s?
    • how they draw on theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings and how they have informed practice over time?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s approach to curriculum decision-making:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, respect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
    • reflect a strong commitment to meaningful, authentic and regular engagement with families and the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and community members from culturally diverse backgrounds, to promote strong connections between each child’s various learning environments?
    • demonstrate a genuine commitment to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum, including opportunities for children to learn on and from Country?
  • How do all educators:
    • consistently and meaningfully engage with children’s families and/or the community to:
      • draw on family and/or community understanding of each child’s knowledge, skills, strengths, culture, abilities, ideas and interests, and their learning, development and wellbeing, in order to develop a child-centred educational program, (for example Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s connection to Country and ways of knowing, being and doing)?
      • regularly communicate about the educational program and children’s evolving knowledge, skills, strengths, abilities, ideas and interests, and learning, development and wellbeing outcomes, to support continuity of learning and development across children’s various learning environments?
    • actively seek out the voices, perspectives, and views of children throughout the day, and draw on this input to develop a child-centred educational program and enhance children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • draw inspiration from the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service to enhance children’s learning, development and wellbeing?

Standard 1.2: Practice

Educators facilitate and extend each child’s learning and development.

How Standard 1.2 contributes to quality education and care

In their pedagogical practice, educators have a professional responsibility to build and nurture relationships with children, young people and families, provide a play-based environment, and facilitate and extend children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Educators are deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and actions. They are intentional in the roles they take in children and young people’s play and leisure, and how they plan the environment and curriculum experiences (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). They value and respond to children’s ideas and curiosities, and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, meaningful interactions and encouraging feedback. They promote each child’s agency to help them make choices and decisions that influence their world (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Educators’ professional judgments and curriculum decisions are central to their active role in facilitating children’s learning, development and wellbeing. In making professional judgments, educators intentionally utilise their:

  • professional knowledge, skills and experience
  • contextual knowledge of each child, their families and communities
  • understanding that relationships with children and families are critical to creating safe and trusting spaces
  • awareness of how their own beliefs and values impact on children’s wellbeing and learning
  • awareness of their own biases and how these might impact on inclusive practice
  • knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
  • knowledge and use of all components in the planning cycle (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Educators also draw on their creativity, intuition and imagination, including engaging in critical reflection, to evaluate and adjust their practice to suit the learners, and the time, place and context of learning (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Intentional and responsive educators actively engage in children’s learning as resourceful and respectful co-learners and collaborators and share decision-making with them. They use everyday interactions with children during play, routines, transitions and ongoing projects to stimulate children’s thinking and to enrich their learning.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.2 (for all services)

Educational practice

 
  • How do we demonstrate intentionality in our practice and how does this impact on outcomes for children?
  • How do we reflect on the range of intentional strategies suggested in the approved learning framework/s to support children’s development and learning (for example, modelling and demonstrating, open questioning, speculating, explaining, engaging in shared thinking and problem solving – see Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)?
  • How responsive are we to children’s ideas, interests and diverse ways of knowing, being and doing?
  • How do we demonstrate that we value children’s ideas, thinking and interests?
  • How do we extend the program and experiences being offered to each child and/or groups of children?
  • How can we improve the ways in which we engage children in making decisions about their own learning?
  • How do we arrange activities, routines and the physical environment to support children to make choices about what they would like to do and how they will do it?
  • Do we provide children with the opportunity to make choices in circumstances where we promote their agency?

School age children

  • How do planned or intentional aspects of the program support spontaneous play and leisure experiences initiated by children and young people?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Element 1.2.1: Intentional teaching

Educators are deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.

What Element 1.2.1 aims to achieve

 

Intentionality is being deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in actions and decision making (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

In the middle childhood context, intentionality includes actively promoting children and young people's learning through worthwhile and challenging experiences and interactions that foster high-level critical thinking skills. Intentionality includes engaging with children in meaningful ways that support and extend their thinking and learning (Framework for School Age Care).

Intentional educators teaching utilise their professional knowledge and strategies that reflect contemporary theories and research evidence concerning children and young people's play, leisure and learning, and place-based and relational pedagogies (Framework for School Age Care). Intentional educators are able to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Educators act with intentionality when they:

  • recognise that learning occurs in social contexts and that joint attention, interactions, conversations and shared thinking are vitally important for learning
  • extend children’s learning using intentional teaching strategies (such as modelling, inquiring and demonstrating, asking questions, speculating, explaining and engaging in sustained shared conversations) to extend children’s knowledge, skills and enjoyment in thinking and learning
  • move flexibly in and out of different roles and purposefully draw on different strategies as the context of children’s play changes
  • use their professional knowledge to plan and implement worthwhile play-based learning experiences, in indoor and outdoor spaces, using children’s interests, curiosities and funds of knowledge 
  • facilitate the integration of popular culture, media and digital technologies, which add to children’s multimodal play
  • support children to recognise when play is unfair and work with children to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community
  • consider children with diverse inclusion needs and make reasonable adjustments to support their meaningful participation and engagement in the program (Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.2.1 (for all services)

Intentional teaching practice

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • providing time, space and learning experiences that facilitate thoughtful and challenging conversations with children
    • engaging with children by listening, showing interest and asking open-ended questions to encourage thinking and conversation
    • using a range of communication strategies that involve explanations, speculation and problem solving
    • collaborating with children to develop further knowledge and skills
    • using teaching strategies that complement the goals they have for children’s learning
    • providing instructional/intentional support to children during play, routines and transitions
    • who are fully present and mindful of opportunities to provide children time and space to ‘be’.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the plans and intentional teaching strategies educators use to promote learning across all aspects of the program
  • how intentional teaching strategies are used to extend children’s play, including spontaneous experiences
  • any changes in practices that have been implemented to support a child requiring additional assistance, and how those changes have been adapted and sustained over time to benefit the learning of other children and build respect for diversity
  • how practices are adapted for children with additional needs, including children with disability or those experiencing barriers to learning, to support their meaningful participation in the program
  • how educators support children to recognise unfair play and work with children to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community
  • how educators:
    • decide when to use particular intentional teaching strategies, including the intentional positioning of resources or structuring of the learning environment

School age children

  • make conscious decisions in a leisure based program to promote learning and wellbeing.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the written program
  • team meeting minutes when intentional teaching strategies have been discussed
  • documented examples of critically reflective practice, reflecting on the intentionality of educators to support children’s thinking and learning
  • planning documentation that identifies resources to support ongoing learning
  • documentation that monitors children’s learning, wellbeing and engagement.

Element 1.2.2: Responsive teaching and scaffolding

Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions and feedback.

What Element 1.2.2 aims to achieve

Children and young people's learning is extended when educators make decisions and implement actions that respond to children’s ideas and play to enhance their learning. Responsive teaching and scaffolding involves:

  • following up on children’s ideas and interests with open-ended questions and providing positive feedback
  • building and sustaining respectful and trusting relationships and interactions with and between children to share decision making and learn together (relational pedagogy)
  • respectfully entering children’s play and ongoing projects, stimulating their thinking and enriching their learning and development
  • thinking carefully about how children are grouped for play, considering possibilities for peer scaffolding or extending children’s learning through engagement with other children
  • encouraging children to further explore their interests and stimulate their thinking
  • being aware of, and responding to, strategies used by children with additional needs to negotiate their everyday lives
  • using planned and spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ to enhance children’s play and scaffold their learning (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).

Responsive teaching is achieved by valuing and building on children’s current and evolving strengths, skills and knowledge to ensure their wellbeing, motivation and engagement in learning. Children learn best when the experiences they have are meaningful to them and are focused on the here and now. Because children constantly learn new skills and gain new insights into their world, educators continuously assess, evaluate and implement responsive teaching strategies.

 

Educators reflect on the inclusiveness of their practices, including whether these are responsive to individual children and whether they acknowledge all children’s contributions to the group. They view all children as competent and capable, and recognise that equitable means fair, not equal or the same, and some children may need greater access to resources and support to participate in the program. Educators also recognise and respond to barriers that some children face, including attitudinal and practical barriers (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).  This updates their knowledge of individual children and helps them to plan new and follow-up experiences that are relevant to each child. All of these experiences are implemented within a social context where peer interactions are encouraged and supported, building a sense of belonging for all children.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.2.2 (for all services)

The assessment will be undertaken primarily through observation and discussion with educators.

Responsive teaching and scaffolding practice

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • intentionally scaffolding children’s understanding and learning and creating opportunities for peer scaffolding
    • using planned and spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ to extend children’s learning
    • responding to children’s displays of learning dispositions by commenting on them and providing encouragement and additional ideas
    • responding to children’s ideas and using their interests and curiosities as a basis for further learning and exploration
    • noticing children applying their learning in new ways or between different contexts and talking about this with them in ways that build their understanding
    • modelling mathematical and scientific language and concepts
    • using language associated with the creative arts
    • talking explicitly about phonological concepts, such as rhyme, letters and sounds when sharing texts with children
    • providing a literacy-enriched environment including display print in home languages and in English
    • joining in children’s play experiences when invited, taking on a range of roles and co-constructing materials, such as signs that extend the play and enhance literacy and/or numeracy learning (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).
  • children:
    • being curious and enthusiastic participants in their learning
    • using their own ideas to develop their play
    • engaging with stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture, customs and celebrations
    • using technologies and media for creative expression, problem solving and social connection (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessors may discuss how educators:

 

  • recognise and value children’s involvement in learning
  • provide learning environments that are flexible and open-ended
  • plan learning environments and provide children with resources that offer challenge, intrigue and surprise, and support their investigations
  • encourage children to use language to describe and explain their ideas and theories and make them visible to others (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessors may sight the written program, including examples of:

 

  • documented critical reflection relating to educators’ responses to children’s ideas and play to scaffold and extend their learning.
  • documentation and monitoring of children’s learning, development, wellbeing and engagement
  • project or inquiry work where children are given the opportunity to take the lead in an investigation, or collaborate with peers, educators, family members and other members of the community.

Element 1.2.3: Child directed learning

Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions that influence events and their world.

What Element 1.2.3 aims to achieve

When educators promote child directed learning, they foster children’s agency, build on the key concepts of belonging, being and becoming, and support children to develop a strong sense of identity. Promoting children’s agency recognises that children have a right to make choices and decisions and are capable of initiating and leading their own learning.

When children have opportunities to make choices, to attempt tasks, to make decisions for themselves, and to take on increasing responsibilities, they are able to recognise their influence and significance in the world and develop skills in assessing and taking calculated risks. In doing so, they develop an understanding of themselves as significant, respected and feel a sense of belonging (Early Years Learning Framework). For school age children, identity and confidence are built when they are offered genuine choices, time and opportunity to exercise agency, and act on their own to increase autonomy, resilience and persistence (Framework for School Age Care).

Educators who listen to and respect children’s ideas recognise children’s capabilities and help them develop the sense that their ideas and opinions matter. They support children to explore their world, to ask questions, to express ideas and to learn from their mistakes. Educators support children to develop decision-making skills to make appropriate choices for their own wellbeing and to realise that the choices they make may impact on others. When children are given choices and control, they begin to understand the connection between actions and consequences, and learn to accept challenges and identify and assess what risks are appropriate and how they may be managed.

Educators promote child-directed learning by encouraging children to make decisions about, plan for and help set up and lead their own play experiences or projects.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.2.3 (for all services)

The assessment will be undertaken primarily through observation and discussion with educators.

Child-directed learning

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • arranging play experiences, routines and the physical environment so that children have a range of opportunities to make choices about what they will do and how they will do it
    • encouraging children to make choices and decisions
    • acknowledging children as capable and competent who have rights and agency, and encouraging them to act autonomously
    • providing children with strategies to make informed choices about their actions, interactions and behaviours
    • incorporating children’s ideas and suggestions in planning and implementing experiences
    • providing encouragement and displaying enthusiasm for children’s attempts to gain new skills and knowledge
    • embracing and supporting play experiences initiated and led by children, motivating children to persist and extend their learning
    • noticing and listening carefully to children’s concerns and discussing diverse perspectives on issues of inclusion and exclusion, and fair and unfair behaviour
    • encouraging children to direct their own play and leisure experiences with their peers
  • children:
    • making choices and decisions about matters that affect them (for example, whether they wish to play inside or outside, whether they want to play with other children or play independently, whether they are ready to eat, whether they are thirsty, and whether they need to sleep)
    • openly expressing their feelings and ideas in their interactions with others
    • initiating and joining in play
    • beginning to display understanding of and capability to initiate, negotiate and demonstrate sharing behaviours with others
    • showing leadership, making decisions and following directions given by other children
    • leading their learning, designing experiences and freely making choices about participating in experiences
    • actively participating in decisions that affect them, including their learning and leisure
    • being supported to identify, assess and manage risk (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how educators:
    • support opportunities for children’s decision-making that are appropriate for the child’s age and capabilities
    • provide opportunities for children to influence what happens to them and to exercise choice
    • support children to explore different identities, perspectives and points of view through play and everyday experiences
    • reflect on what decisions children can make and the extent of those decisions (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework; and the Framework for School Age Care)
  • how children’s interests and ideas are identified, pursued and celebrated
  • what responsibilities children have as active and informed members of their community and how this contributes to their sense of agency
  • whether educators have high expectations for all children (across ages, genders, sexual identity, abilities, disabilities, cultural and linguistic diversity, family circumstances and geographic location) (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s philosophy statement that recognises children’s rights and responsibilities and describes their role in decision-making
  • documented reflections that demonstrate changes in practice to support children’s agency
  • projects and investigations developed by children with minimal educator input
  • use of open-ended environments, resources and materials that allow children to express themselves (rather than using templates, stencils or resources that limit children’s capacity to create, interpret, experiment and explore).

Exceeding guidance for Standard 1.2: Practice

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 1.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at  https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, the concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • consistently deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in all of their decisions and actions that impact on children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • consistently and respectfully responding to each child’s ideas and play to facilitate and extend each child’s participation, learning, development and wellbeing?
    • consistently taking every opportunity to extend each child’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions, feedback and the provision of resources?
    • consistently considering and promoting the rights and agency of each child, and supporting each child to make genuine choices and decisions to influence events and have an impact on their world?
    • confidently making curriculum decisions throughout the day, week or month to ensure each child’s participation, learning, development and wellbeing is facilitated and extended?
  • Are all educators and the educational leader able to explain how their educational practice connects to:
    • the approved learning framework/s and facilitates and extends each child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • the service philosophy and supports the service’s broader vision for quality?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to facilitating and extending children’s learning, development and wellbeing:
    • consistently align with the service philosophy?
    • consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?
    • consistently demonstrate their inclusion obligations to ensure the meaningful participation and engagement of all children, including children with a disability or children experiencing barriers to learning?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s educational practice approach to facilitating and extending children’s learning, development and wellbeing:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, theories and/or research evidence?
  • Is any change to the service’s approach to facilitating and extending children’s learning and development understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do all educators and the educational leader regularly reflect, individually and with each other on:
    • their educational practice approach to facilitating and extending children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • alternate practice approaches to facilitating and extending all children’s learning, development and wellbeing, including making reasonable adjustments to support children with disability?
    • implementation of changes to strengthen their practice over time?
    • social justice and equity implications of their educational practice to ensure that practice considers the circumstances and rights of every child at the service?
    • opportunities to cultivate deep respect for, and knowledge of, the cultural diversity of the broader community in educational practice, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge?
    • theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings on their practice, including the theoretical perspectives identified in the approved learning framework/s?
    • how they draw on theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings and how they have informed practice over time?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s educational practice approach to facilitating and extending children’s learning, development and wellbeing:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, respect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do all educators:
    • consistently and meaningfully engage with children’s families and/or the community to draw on family and/or community understanding of each child’s knowledge, skills, strengths, culture, abilities, ideas, interests and their learning, development and wellbeing in order to facilitate and extend children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • actively seek out the voices, perspectives, and views of children throughout the day, and draw on this input to facilitate and extend children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • draw inspiration from the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service to facilitate and extend on children’s learning, development and wellbeing?

Standard 1.3: Assessment and planning

Educators and co-ordinators take a planned and reflective approach to implementing the program for each child.

How Standard 1.3 contributes to quality education and care

Thoughtful and professional approaches to assessment and planning for each child and young person and the group of children have the potential to enhance their learning, development and wellbeing.

The approved learning framework and the service’s philosophy statement (see Element 7.1.1) guide educators in developing an educational program and practice that supports their beliefs and values about children’s learning.

Educators collect information on each child, analyse what that information tells them about how to support the child’s learning further, document, plan experiences to incorporate into the program, implement the program and then critically reflect on and evaluate what has been learned.

Planning ensures that the educational program and practice responds to children’s strengths, abilities and interests, and scaffolds and extends their learning. It ensures that educators’ practice is intentional and supports children to progress towards the learning outcomes.

Critical reflection encourages educators to engage in analytical and diagnostic thinking to honestly and critically reflect in detail on all aspects of the program, their professional practice, and children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Educators work in partnership with families in collecting information and planning for each child’s learning and development and seek to keep families informed about the program and their child’s progress. Children’s views and opinions about program planning and evaluation also inform this process.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.3 (for all services)

A planned and reflective approach to program implementation

 
  • How do we ensure that the way we document and plan for children’s learning aligns with current approaches?
  • How can we work collaboratively with each family to share information about children’s learning, development and participation in the program?
  • How do we recognise and support continuity of learning at the service, and how does information gathered from each child’s home, school or other support service inform planning for continuity of learning?
  • What do we do to critically reflect on and evaluate the program, how is this documented and how are our evaluations used to make informed curriculum decisions to improve outcomes for children?
  • How do we use critical reflection when discussing programs with colleagues?
  • How do we critically reflect on all aspects of pedagogical practice so that quality improvements occur?

The assessment and planning cycle

 

Element 1.3.1: Assessment and planning cycle

Each child’s learning and development is assessed or evaluated as part of an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 1.3.1

Regulation 74 Documenting of child assessments or evaluations for delivery of educational program

State and territory specific provisions

NSW – Regulation 274A Programs for children over preschool age

NT – Regulation 289A Programs for children over preschool age

Qld – Regulation 298A Programs for children over preschool age

SA – Regulation 325B Programs for children over preschool age

Tas – Regulation 345A Programs for children over preschool age

Vic – Regulation 359A Programs for children over preschool age

WA – Regulation 373A Programs for children over preschool age (please check the legislation for commencement dates in WA)

What Element 1.3.1 aims to achieve

Planning and implementation

The assessment and planning cycle is the ongoing process used by educators (with support from the educational leader and in partnership with families and other professionals) to design programs that enhance and extend children and young people’s learning, development and wellbeing. The planning cycle process includes: observation, assessing and analysing learning and engagement, planning, implementation and evaluation, including critical reflection. It is important to note that documentation occurs at every stage of the planning cycle (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment and evaluation are critical parts of the continuous cycle of planning. Assessment refers to the gathering of information about children’s learning, development and wellbeing using a range of strategies. Evaluation refers to educators’ critical reflection on and analysis of this information, and consideration of the effectiveness of their planning and implementation of curriculum for children’s learning, development and wellbeing (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Educators:

  • understand the context of the service and how the service’s statement of philosophy guides their decision-making
  • collect information in a variety of ways about each child’s knowledge, strengths, learning dispositions, culture, abilities, ideas and interests (gained with children and from their families as well as through observations and other data) that demonstrate the individuality of the child
  • analyse each child’s learning and development in relation to the learning outcomes of the approved learning frameworks (see Element 1.1.1), to identify progress which can be shared with families and other professionals or support agencies that work with children and to assist in identifying goal(s) for further learning and development
  • plan the program including:
    • strategies and experiences for individual children (based on their goals)
    • experiences to support achievement of group goals
    • experiences to extend emerging strengths, abilities and interests
    • experiences that follow up on input from families
    • experiences related to relevant community events
  • implement the planned experiences, and at the same time identify and utilise ‘teachable moments’ to respond to and support children’s newly emerging strengths, abilities and interests
  • critically reflect and evaluate on individual children’s learning and participation and the program as a whole, to inform further planning.

Some states and territories have different documentation requirements for educational programs for children over preschool age. See Regulations 74 (ACT), 274A (NSW), 289A (NT), 298A (Qld), 325B (SA), 345A (Tas), 359A (Vic), and 373A (WA) (please check the legislation for commencement dates in WA).

Observation, analysis, reflection

Reflection occurs at every step of the planning cycle as educators think about their practice and decisions, and children’s engagement with the program.

Educators reflect to:

  • ensure that sufficient information has been collected about the child in order to provide an accurate record of their participation in the program, and what they know, can do and understand
  • determine the extent to which each child is progressing towards particular learning outcomes and identify any barriers that might be impeding their progress
  • identify children who may benefit from additional support to achieve particular learning outcomes and provide that support, or assist families to access specialist help
  • plan collaboratively with children and families to support each child’s ongoing learning, development and wellbeing, as well as for the group of children
  • evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, schedules, environments, resources, experiences offered and approaches taken to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • ensure their pedagogical practices are appropriate for the service context, the philosophy of the service and the children with whom they are working (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care).

Documentation

Documentation of children’s experiences and their responses to the environment makes learning visible to children, educators and families and promotes shared learning and collaboration. It promotes relationships between children, educators and families and demonstrates professionalism. It also enables the assessment and planning cycle to be visible to educators and families.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.3.1 (for all services)

Assessment and planning cycle

Assessors may observe educators:

 

  • observing and recording information about what children know, can do and understand in ways that do not interrupt children’s participation in their learning
  • implementing the curriculum, including educational program based on program planning documentation

School age children

  • educators being intentional in the strategies they use to plan leisure-based experiences to support children and young people's learning, development and wellbeing.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the effectiveness of the methods used to document information about children’s knowledge, strengths, learning dispositions, culture, abilities, ideas, interests, relationships, learning and participation over a period of time
  • how educators encourage families to contribute information about their child
  • how educational leaders support educators to understand all steps of the planning cycle when planning and implementing programs for each child and the group of children
  • what strategies are used to seek feedback from children and record their voices and perspectives in assessment, planning and evaluation
  • how educators analyse the information that is gathered about each child to make assessments of each child’s progress towards specific learning outcomes

School age children

  • how educators collaborate with children and young people to evaluate the information they gather to consider children and young people’s achievements, capabilities and wellbeing in relation to the outcomes.

Evaluations of each child's wellbeing, development and learning continue to be required for school age children educated and cared for by services in the ACT. The evaluation should be proportionate to the amount of time the child attends the service, and the complexity of their individual needs. This is in accordance with established regulatory practice in the ACT.

For more information, see ACECQA's information sheet on Documenting Programs for School Age Services.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • information gathered about each child which shows educators understand each child and their learning, development and wellbeing, including their learning styles and dispositions, and any specific considerations, identified support and appropriate adjustments required for that child
  • the information collected is:
    • in a form that can be accessed by children and shared easily with families
    • appropriate to the age and capabilities of the child and the time and frequency the child attends the service
  • examples of children’s representation, analysis and evaluation of their learning (where appropriate), and other work is documented and displayed in sensitive and respectful ways
  • evidence that:
    • families have been encouraged to contribute information about their child (see Element 1.3.3)
    • children’s ideas, interests and points of view are sought and respected when planning and implementing the program
    • educators have critically reflected on each child’s planned and unplanned/spontaneous experiences
    • educators have reflected on the program and their practices, and identified any changes or improvements required (see Element 1.3.2)
  • examples of families and children having opportunities to comment on or provide feedback about the program
  • documented assessment and analysis of each child’s learning, development and wellbeing, using the learning outcomes as points of reference, that assists in planning how to consolidate, enrich and extend each child’s thinking and learning
  • clear and accessible information about what has occurred during the program so that families know the learning opportunities and experiences that have been offered to their children
  • documented evidence of each child’s ideas, interests, experiences, participation and engagement in the program.

School age children

  • documentation about children and young people's participation in the program that is collected by them and by educators in a format that is interesting for children, young people and families, and that can be shared with them
  • documented evaluation of children and young people’s wellbeing, learning and development, including how they feel and what they know, can do and understand, and further goals established with input from children and young people
  • documented programs that include planned experiences and/or strategies to support program goals
  • examples of children and young people having opportunities to collaborate with educators in the design and evaluation of the program.

Evaluations of each child's wellbeing, development and learning continue to be required for school age children educated and cared for by services in the ACT. The evaluation should be proportionate to the amount of time the child attends the service, and the complexity of their individual needs. This is in accordance with established regulatory practice in the ACT.

For more information, see ACECQA's information sheet on Documenting Programs for School Age Services.

Element 1.3.2: Critical reflection

Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, drives program planning and implementation.

What Element 1.3.2 aims to achieve

Reflective practice is a form of ongoing learning that involves educators intentionally thinking about all aspects of the program, the vision and principles that guide them, the practices they use and the learning outcomes for children. It drives educators’ program planning and implementation to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Educational leaders support educators to become increasingly thoughtful about their work, to analyse their actions objectively and motivate them to reflect and explore new ideas and approaches as part of daily practice.

Reflective practice is an ongoing, dynamic process that supports educators to think honestly and critically about all aspects of professional practice, including whether all children and families are included. Reflective practice guides educators to gather information from different perspectives to gain insights that will support, inform and enrich their decision-making about each child’s learning.

Critical reflection is a meaning-making process that involves closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from diverse perspectives, including philosophy, theory, contemporary knowledge, ethics and practice, with a focus on implications for equity, social justice, inclusion and diversity (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care).

Critical reflection takes reflective practice to a deeper level of thinking and evaluation and includes educators, individually and with each other, analysing or diagnosing what happened and why. For example:

  • why educators may have responded in the way they did
  • how educators felt
  • why educators made certain decisions
  • what may have influenced educators’ actions
  • which theoretical perspectives educators draw on in their decision-making (whether deliberately or subconsciously).

Critical reflection helps educators to build on their knowledge and skills, identifying practice that can be continued as well as what might need to be improved or changed. It also helps educators to identify ways to improve opportunities for children’s participation, learning, development and wellbeing.

Educational leaders support educators to consider questions such as:

  • How do we currently examine our practices and decision-making, and identify improvements as well as successes?
  • Have we considered which children may be advantaged and whether any child is disadvantaged, excluded or silenced when we work in particular ways?
  • How do we use the approved learning framework/s to help us critically reflect?
  • How are we creating opportunities for conversations, debates, and collaborative inquiries as a team, ensuring that all voices are heard, considered and responded to with respect?
  • What questions do I have about my work? What am I challenged by? What am I curious about? What am I confronted by in relation to my own biases?
  • What strategies do I use to demonstrate that I value diversity in all its forms, and promote equitable and genuine participation and inclusion for all children in all aspects of the program? (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.3.2 (for all services)

Critical reflection

Assessors may observe educators:

 

  • working collaboratively with children to document and reflect on their experiences and learning
  • using a variety of methods, such as jottings, children’s comments and conversations, photographs and examples of children’s work, to assist their reflection on children’s experiences, thinking and learning
  • focusing on adapting the program to include all children rather than adapting a child’s routine or requirements to fit the program
  • reflecting-in-action by changing or altering experiences which are not engaging children
  • speaking briefly to one another throughout the day about aspects of practice that they have changed or need to change
  • making brief notes when appropriate so that they can recall an aspect of practice that may be challenging them, or that they may have questions about, to guide critical reflection.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how reflective practice, including critical reflection, is used as part of an ongoing process and cycle of review in the service
  • how the educational leader supports educators to engage in reflective practice that is in line with current recognised approaches, theories and/or research evidence
  • how educators use critical reflection to inform future planning and decision-making and make changes to their program and practice
  • the opportunities available for educators to reflect on the events of each day, including thinking about what happened and why, identifying successes and achievements and exploring what can be extended or changed
  • how educators reflect on whether the program is an inclusive learning environment and supports each child to participate fully or if there are barriers to learning and participation, including attitudinal and practical barriers
  • how children’s comments about their experiences of the program are actively sought, recorded and considered as part of the reflection process
  • whether information gathered provides insights about curriculum decision-making that supports and extends children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • how the educational leader promotes a culture of professional enquiry and critical reflection, where current practices are examined, outcomes of those practices evaluated and new ideas generated, tried and tested.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation that shows evidence of critical reflection, such as reflection journals or diaries
  • documentation that reflects on all aspects of the program and may include jottings about:
    • the effectiveness of arrivals/departures,
    • interactions, responsiveness and relationships with particular children
    • transitions, routines and rituals
    • planned experiences and unplanned/spontaneous child directed learning
    • incidental and planned group times
    • the environment and experiences provided
    • intentional teaching strategies, such as asking questions, explaining, modelling, speculating, inquiring and demonstrating
    • conversations with colleagues, children and families
    • any other aspects of practice to prompt further thinking and discussion
    • the effectiveness of resources and equipment used
    • experiences and learning outcomes achieved
    • review of curriculum content and pedagogy
  • if the service has a Strategic Inclusion Plan, how the service reflects on adaptations made to reduce barriers to participation.

Element 1.3.3: Information for families

Families are informed about the program and their child’s progress.

 

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 1.3.3

Regulation 75 Information about the educational program to be kept available

Regulation 76 Information about educational program to be given to parents

State and territory specific provisions

NSW – Regulation 274A Programs for children over preschool age

NT – Regulation 289A Programs for children over preschool age

Qld – Regulation 298A Programs for children over preschool age

SA – Regulation 325B Programs for children over preschool age

Tas – Regulation 345A Programs for children over preschool age

Vic – Regulation 359A Programs for children over preschool age

WA – Regulation 373A Programs for children over preschool age (please check the legislation for commencement dates in WA)

What Element 1.3.3 aims to achieve

Quality education and care services engage with families to provide information about the wellbeing, learning and development of their child. Educational leaders support educators to recognise the benefits of quality education and care to both families and the service and to understand that learning outcomes are best achieved when educators work in partnerships with families and acknowledge the diversity of families and their aspirations for their children. Services develop a communication plan in consultation with families to ensure that information for families is accessible, meaningful and useful.

Educators verbally inform families of their child’s participation and progress whenever possible, and share documentation about children’s learning development and wellbeing in ways that are accessible, understandable and meaningful for families. This enables families to understand their child’s strengths, abilities and knowledge from the perspective of the service. Educators also share ‘point-in-time’ summaries about each child’s progress towards the learning outcomes and engage families in the assessment process by actively seeking their input and feedback. Educators draw on families’ knowledge and expertise and encourage them to share in decision-making about their child’s further learning, development and wellbeing.

The educational program is displayed in a way that is accessible, understandable and meaningful for families to read so that they can view what has been planned for their child.

Information is also provided that documents children’s participation and their progress against the approved framework’s learning outcomes, as well as how educators have supported and guided them. Educational leaders support educators to share information safely, sensitively and respectfully, taking into account the child and family’s right to confidentiality.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 1.3.3 (for all services)

Information for families about their child’s progress

Assessors may observe educators:

 

  • initiating and responding to conversations with families about their child
  • verbally sharing positive observations with families about their child
  • showing meaningful documentation to families about their child
  • exchanging information with families about the educational program.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how educators:
    • seek input from families about their preferences for the way they receive information about their child’s progress
    • document observations or information of a sensitive nature
    • support continuity of learning and transitions for each child
  • how clear and accessible information is made available to families, with consideration to the diversity of families and their aspirations for their child's learning, development and wellbeing
  • how educators seek feedback from families about how they access documentation about their child and whether it is useful, understandable and meaningful to them
  • educators’ understanding of the need to respect children and their families’ right to confidentiality
  • how arrangements are made to exchange information about the child with families at mutually convenient meeting times
  • educators’ understanding of the importance of communicating and sharing information safely and respectfully with families about their child’s progress.

School age children

  • how barriers are addressed to involve families in their child or young person’s learning
  • how the service works with families and the school to support a consistent learning approach for children and young people.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation (such as a communication plan) that demonstrates that families have been consulted about how they would like to receive information about their child’s progress
  • a range of strategies being implemented to share information with families in meaningful and useful ways, with consideration to the diversity of families and their aspirations for their child's learning, development and wellbeing
  • documented expectations about the ways educators share information with families such as through:
    • conversations
    • emails
    • phone calls
    • communication books
    • offering meetings at mutually convenient times
  • documented expectations about how educators gather and record information from families
  • transition statements for children transitioning to school
  • the educational program, including planning, evaluations, reflections and insights for families about the experiences and learning that have occurred
  • the educational program displayed in an accessible location for families to view and understand
  • documented information about each child’s strengths, ideas, interests, experiences, relationships, participation and progress (see Element 1.3.1) that is shared with families.

School age children

  • documented evaluations of children and young people’s achievements, capabilities and wellbeing in relation to program outcomes (see Element 1.3.1) that is shared with families.

In the ACT, documented evaluations of each child's wellbeing, development and learning, proportionate to their attendance and individual needs (see Element 1.3.1) that is shared with families.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 1.3: Assessment and planning

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 1.3.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at  https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 1.3

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, the concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
    • consistently engage in planned and spontaneous critical reflection on children’s learning, development and wellbeing, as individuals and in groups that informs high quality practice?
    • consistently draw on their insights and critical reflections to make changes to the design and implementation of the program?
    • work collaboratively to critically assess and evaluate each child’s learning, development and wellbeing as part of an ongoing assessment and planning cycle that drives development of an education program enhancing and extending each child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • explain how their approach to assessment and planning connects to:
  • the approved learning framework/s and enhances and extends each child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
  • the service philosophy and supports the service’s broader vision for quality?
    • consistently engage meaningfully with children’s families to inform them about the educational program and their child’s participation, learning, development and wellbeing?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to assessment and planning:
    • consistently align with the service philosophy?
    • consistently demonstrate a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning frameworks/s?
    • consistently inform the service’s program documentation and any required assessment or evaluation documentation as appropriate to the circumstances of the children and young people who attend the service?
    • consistently reflect meaningful engagement and communication with families?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to assessment and planning:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, theories and/or research evidence?
  • How is any change to the service’s approach to assessment and planning understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do all educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators regularly critically reflect, individually and with each other on:
    • their approach to assessment and planning to consider whether it supports the best outcomes for children, young people and families?
    • engagement with families and whether communication of the education program and children/young people’s participation, learning and development is accessible and understandable?
    • alternate assessment, planning and evaluation processes, including utlising different types of assessment and assessment strategies, and make changes where opportunities for improvement are identified?
    • social justice and equity implications of their assessment and planning to ensure that practice considers the circumstances and rights of every child at the service?
    • the ways theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings, including the theoretical perspectives identified in the approved learning framework/s, inform their approach to assessment and planning?
    • how they draw on theoretical and philosophical influences and understandings to inform practice over time?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s approach to assessment and planning:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, respect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do all educators:
    • consistently and meaningfully seek out the voices, perspectives, and views of children throughout the day, and draw on this input in ongoing assessment and planning?
    • consistently and meaningfully support children to participate in assessing, planning and evaluating their own learning, development and wellbeing?
  • How do all educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • consistently and meaningfully engage with families and the community to ensure that children’s learning, development and wellbeing outside of the service is incorporated into the assessment and planning cycle?
    • consistently and meaningfully engage with families about their child’s progress in ways that are tailored to individual families’ circumstances and ways of connecting, for example engaging with families using respectful and culturally safe and responsive practices?

Quality Area 2: Children’s health and safety

Overview

Quality Area 2 of the National Quality Standard reinforces children’s right to experience quality education and care in an environment that provides for their health and safety. Educators support this when they promote each child’s wellbeing and healthy lifestyle, and support each child’s growing competence, confidence and independence.

Learning about healthy lifestyles, including nutrition, personal hygiene (such as handwashing, dental hygiene and ear care), physical fitness, emotions and social relationships, is integral to children’s wellbeing and self-confidence. Wellbeing and a strong sense of connection, optimism, resilience and engagement enable children and young people to develop a growth mindset and a positive attitude to learning (Framework for School Age Care). With resilience and a growth mindset, each child's ability to take increasing responsibility for their self-help and basic health routines promotes a sense of independence and confidence. Viewing children as active participants and decision-makers opens possibilities for educators to move beyond preconceived expectations about what children can do. This requires educators to respect and work with children and young people’s unique qualities and diverse capabilities (Early Years Learning Framework). As children become more independent, they can take greater responsibility for their own health, hygiene and personal care and they become aware of their own and others’ safety and wellbeing (Framework for School Age Care). This is particularly relevant for school age children attending education and care services.

The approved provider, nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators have responsibility for supporting the health, protection, safety and wellbeing of all children. In exercising their responsibilities, they must take reasonable care to protect children from foreseeable risk of harm, injury and infection.

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 2 has two Standards that focus on children’s health and safety. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • children’s health, comfort and wellbeing strongly impact on their learning, confidence and self-growth
  • all children have a right to safety and protection from harm
  • adequate supervision and effective management of incidents and emergencies are paramount at all times to support children’s safety and engagement in the educational program.
Standard/ElementsConceptDescriptor
2.2.3Child protectionManagement, educators and staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect.
QA2 Children’s health and safety
2.1HealthEach child’s health and physical activity is supported and promoted.
2.1.1Wellbeing and comfortEach child’s wellbeing and comfort is provided for, including appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation.
2.1.2Health practices and proceduresEffective illness and injury management and hygiene practices are promoted and implemented.
2.1.3Healthy lifestyleHealthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.
2.2SafetyEach child is protected.
2.2.1SupervisionAt all times, reasonable precautions and adequate supervision ensure children are protected from harm and hazard.
2.2.2

Incident and emergency

management

Plans to effectively manage incidents and emergencies are developed in consultation with relevant authorities, practised and implemented.
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 2.1: Health

Each child’s health and physical activity is supported and promoted.

How Standard 2.1 contributes to quality education and care

Children’s health and physical wellbeing contributes to their ability to concentrate, cooperate and learn (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Being active, healthy, well rested and free of illness assists children to participate happily and successfully in the learning environment. It is also important that all children are supported to take increasing responsibility for their own health, hygiene and personal care, and become mindful of their own and others’ safety (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Children’s health requirements can change over time as they grow and develop. Working in partnership with children and families, community members, teachers in schools, and where relevant, health care and other professionals, the service should have effective processes to support all aspects of children’s health. This can include:

  • being aware of and meeting each child’s physical health, wellbeing and comfort requirements throughout the day
  • encouraging physical activity
  • supporting all children’s wellbeing by providing opportunities for children’s sleep, rest and relaxation and both passive and active leisure
  • implementing effective hygiene practices to control the spread of infectious diseases
  • managing injuries and illnesses
  • meeting children’s nutritional needs
  • teaching children that healthy lifestyles underpin everyday routines and experiences.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 2.1 (for all services)

Wellbeing and comfort

 How do we find out about individual children’s routines, and ensure that all relevant staff members are informed about these?

Birth to three

  • How do we seek information from families about their children’s routine experiences, such as sleeping and toileting patterns, and support the same approaches within the service?
  • How do we encourage and support mothers who wish to breastfeed in the service?
  • How do we arrange routine times to ensure that all children are able to follow their individual needs or preferences, including arrangements for children who do not need or wish to sleep or rest when other children do?

School age children

  • How do we seek information from children and families about children’s wellbeing, physical comfort or personal needs, and support children sensitively within the service?

Health practices and procedures

 
  • How do we keep informed of, and implement, current practices and guidelines from recognised authorities in relation to:
    • child and adult immunisation
    • allergies and anaphylaxis
    • food safety and hygiene practices
    • administration of medication
    • safe sleep and rest requirements
    • sun safe practices
  • How do we find out about individual children’s health requirements, and ensure that all relevant staff members are informed about these?
  • How do we maintain acceptable levels of hygiene while minimising the use of toxic products?
  • How do we ensure that families are informed about and follow the service’s policy and guidelines for the exclusion of ill children?
  • What arrangements do we have in place to regularly review and update our child health related policies and procedures?
  • How do we communicate with families if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease?

Birth to three

  • How do family day care educators and co-ordinators discuss and manage risks associated with working in isolation, when managing children’s illnesses and injuries?

School age children

  • What arrangements do we need to make for older children to independently administer their own medication?

Healthy lifestyle

 
  • How do we ensure that all educators are familiar with current guidelines about healthy eating, physical activity, rest and safe sleeping?
  • How do we ensure that all educators understand and implement correct procedures relating to food handling, transportation and storage?
  • How do we plan food and beverages to meet the preferences of each child as well as their dietary and nutrition requirements, including during excursions or other special activities?
  • How do we incorporate discussions and activities about healthy eating, physical activity and allergies into children’s everyday experiences so that each child is encouraged to make healthy food and beverage choices?
  • How do we plan the program to ensure that there is a balance between planned and spontaneous active play as well as a balance between passive and active leisure experiences?
  • How do we set up the environment and resources to encourage and support all children to engage in movement and physical play?
  • How do we set up the environment and resources to encourage and support all children to engage in active and passive leisure?
  • How do we plan the program to include opportunities for active play during periods of inclement weather?
  • How do we encourage children to solve problems in relation to physical challenges in the environment?
  • school age children

School age children

  • How do we encourage play and leisure experiences that are child-initiated, child-directed, and appropriate for the age and capabilities of school-aged children?

Element 2.1.1: Wellbeing and comfort

Each child’s wellbeing and comfort is provided for, including appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.1.1

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Regulation 84A Sleep and rest

Regulation 84B Sleep and rest policies and procedures

Regulation 84C Risk assessment for purposes of sleep and rest policies and procedures

What Element 2.1.1 aims to achieve

Wellbeing and comfort incorporate both physical and psychological aspects and are central to children’s learning and development. Without a strong sense of wellbeing it is difficult for children to develop a sense of belonging, to trust others and feel confident in being themselves and to participate in experiences that support their personal growth (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Holistic approaches recognise the integration and connectedness of all dimensions of children’s learning, development and wellbeing. When educators take a holistic approach, they pay attention to children’s physical, personal, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and cognitive aspects of learning (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators who provide a range of active and restful experiences throughout the day support each child’s individual requirements for health, nutrition, sleep, rest and relaxation.

Wellbeing includes physical health, fitness, activity and leisure, nutrition, sleep and rest, feelings of satisfaction and successful social functioning. Children have a right to both passive and active leisure. Children and young people may engage in passive leisure to re-energise or reset, and active leisure including sports, dance and games. Leisure is intrinsically valuable and does not have to be productive (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Children’s individual comfort and wellbeing requirements may vary for daily routines, such as rest, sleep, dressing, and toileting or nappy changing. Educators should recognise and consider how to incorporate each child's requirements into their practice:

  • the practices, values and beliefs of the child and the family
  • the child’s personal preferences
  • the routines and activities that are in place at the child’s home.

Educators should use safe sleep guidelines and their service’s policies and procedures to consult parents and family members about safe sleep practices. Developing a clear and consistent approach which addresses requests from parents and family members is important to ensure respectful approaches that consider children’s individual needs are considered.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.1.1 (for all services)

Ensuring children’s wellbeing and comfort

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • demonstrating a sense of belonging and comfort in their environment by recognising and communicating their physical and emotional needs and seeking comfort, assistance and companionship from educators and familial children when required (Early Years Learning Framework)
    • being supplied with clean, appropriate spare clothes when they need them and knowing where they can access them independently
    • who do not require, or choose not to, sleep or rest being given choice and opportunities to engage in quiet play experiences

Birth to three

  • being supported sensitively and positively when they are learning to use the toilet

School age children

  • being provided with and accessing comfortable spaces for quiet activity and strategies such as relaxation techniques and self-calming for children and young people to manage strong emotions
 
  • children’s needs for privacy during toileting and/or dressing and undressing times being respected and facilitated
  • children’s and families’ individual clothing needs and preferences being met to promote children’s comfort, safety and protection within the scope of the service’s requirements for children’s health, wellbeing and safety
  • sleep and rest practices that are consistent with best practice guidance about children’s safety, health and wellbeing and that meet children’s individual needs 
  • comfortable spaces being made available for children away from the main activity area to rest and engage in relaxation
  • educators:
    • showing awareness of children’s comfort and avoiding overcrowding when children are grouped for sleep and rest
    • providing a range of active and restful experiences throughout the program and supporting children’s preferences for participation

Birth to three

  • nappy-changing and toileting routines that are adapted to meet the individual child’s routines in a respectful way.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the service’s sleep and rest policies, procedures and practices and whether the prescribed matters to be included in a service’s sleep and rest policies and procedures under the National Regulations have been included
  • The risk assessment that has been conducted in relation to sleep and rest
  • how the service:
    • addresses each child’s clothing needs and preferences
    • provides opportunities for families to communicate changes in children’s routines to educators
    • considers the prescribed matters under the National Regulations when conducting the risk assessment
  • how educators:

Birth to three

  • work with families to support children’s toileting
  • find out about children’s and families’ individual clothing needs and preferences and how they reach agreement with families, considering the scope of the service’s requirements for children’s health and safety
  • negotiate sleep and rest routines and practices with families for each child at the service
  • communicate the service’s sleep and rest policy and procedures
  • prioritise monitoring and adequate supervision for sleeping infants and children with known risk factors for Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI)

School age children

  • negotiate arrangements for relaxation and ‘downtime’ with children and privacy arrangements for children’s toileting and personal hygiene requirements.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence demonstrating that the service’s approach to addressing individual clothing needs and preferences is shared with families
  • evidence demonstrating that the service’s approach to sleep and rest is shared with families

Birth to three

  • evidence that babies who are asleep are adequately monitored and supervised
  • evidence that families are provided with daily information about their child’s nappy change/toileting patterns

School age children

  • planning that reflects the input of children into rules and routines of the service that relate to the wellbeing and comfort of individuals and the group.

Element 2.1.2: Health practices and procedures

Effective illness and injury management and hygiene practices are promoted and implemented.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.1.2

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Regulation 77 Health, hygiene and safe food practices

Regulation 85 Incident, injury, trauma and illness policies and procedures

Regulation 86 Notification to parents of incident, injury, trauma and illness

Regulation 87 Incident, injury, trauma and illness record

Regulation 88 Infectious diseases

Regulation 89 First aid kits

Regulation 90 Medical conditions policy

Regulation 91 Medical conditions policy to be provided to parents

Regulation 92 Medication record

Regulation 93 Administration of medication

Regulation 94 Exception to authorisation requirement – anaphylaxis or asthma emergency

Regulation 95 Procedure for administration of medication

Regulation 96 Self-administration of medication

Additional state/territory and local government requirements

In addition to complying with the National Quality Framework, services must also comply with other relevant national, state/territory and local government requirements. For example, immunisation requirements that prevent enrolment of a child unless approved documentation is provided to indicate the child is fully immunised for their age, or has received an approved exemption from immunisation. For more information, contact your regulatory authority. Some services may require an Immunisation History Statement, which can be obtained from the Australian Immunisation Register.

What Element 2.1.2 aims to achieve

Illness management and hygiene practices

While it is not possible to prevent the spread of all infections and illnesses, effective illness management practices and maintaining high standards of hygiene significantly reduce the likelihood of children becoming ill. This involves reducing children’s exposure to materials, surfaces and body fluids that may cause infection or illness.

For more information, see the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) publication Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services, 2013.

In helping children to take growing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing, educators model and reinforce health and personal hygiene practices with children. Educators also promote continuity of children’s personal health and hygiene by sharing ownership of routines and schedules with children, families and the community.

Injury management

Services need to consider the effectiveness of injury management processes, including risk identification and conducting risk benefit analysis and risk assessments to minimise risk. This involves considering the way educators:

  • develop shared notions of ‘risky’ play with children and young people and other educators (Framework for School Age Care)  
  • are organised to ensure effective supervision
  • are proactive, responsive and flexible in using professional judgments to prevent injury from occurring
  • support children to take considered, calculated and appropriate risk (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

When developing effective injury management procedures, services also need to consider a range of contingencies if an injury occurs. These include:

  • administration of first aid
  • contacting emergency services or medical professionals
  • contact and communication with families including injury notification forms
  • maintaining adequate supervision
  • managing the emotional wellbeing of all children and educators
  • serious incident and any other notification requirements
  • reviewing and evaluating procedures after an incident as part of the quality improvement process.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.1.2 (for all services)

Hygiene practices

Assessors may observe:

 

  • hygiene practices that reflect current research and advice from recognised health authorities
  • safe and hygienic storage, handling, preparation and serving of all food and drinks consumed by children, including food brought from home
  • nominated supervisors, educators, co-ordinators and family day care assistants:
    • implementing the service’s health and hygiene policy and procedures
    • actively supporting children to learn hygiene practices (including hand washing, coughing, dental hygiene and ear care)
    • maintaining a hygienic environment for children
  • children consuming food and drinks in a hygienic manner

Birth to three

  • educators implementing appropriate hygiene practices in relation to hand washing, toileting, nappy changing and cleaning of equipment
  • clean toileting and nappy-changing facilities
  • fresh linen and other bedding being used for each child using a cot or a mattress
  • bedding being stored hygienically (for example, in named cloth bags and not touching other children’s bedding).

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service accesses information from recognised authorities about current health, hygiene and safety guidelines and how this information is used to inform policies, procedures and practices
  • how often children’s bedding, dress-up clothes, cushion-covers and other washable materials are laundered
  • how cleanliness of the service is consistently maintained

Birth to three

  • how a regular regime of washing children’s toys and equipment is
    maintained.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • policies and procedures relating to health and hygiene
  • written procedures and schedules for maintaining a regular regime of washing children’s toys and equipment
  • evidence that families are provided with information and support that helps them to follow the service’s hygiene procedures
  • current nappy-changing and toileting procedures displayed in toilet and nappy-changing areas
  • information about correct hand-washing procedures displayed in relevant areas of the service, such as bathrooms, nappy change areas and food preparation areas
  • visual aids and hand-washing signs displayed where children wash their hands.

Illness and injury management

Assessors may observe:

 

  • groupings of children arranged to minimise the risk of illness and injuries
  • educators:
    • observing and promptly responding to signs of illness and injury in children
    • observing the symptoms of children’s illnesses and injuries and systematically recording and sharing this information with families (and medical professionals where required)
    • discussing health, wellbeing and safety issues with children
    • involving children in developing guidelines to keep the service environment healthy and safe for all
    • communicating with families about children’s health requirements in culturally sensitive ways
    • implementing appropriate practices when administering medication, including:
  • checking the written authorisation from the parent or guardian
  • checking that the medication does not exceed its use-by date and is supplied in its original packaging
  • checking that prescribed medication displays the child’s name
  • storing medication appropriately
  • completing records to indicate when medication is administered.

Centre-based services

  • having another person check the dosage and witness the administration of medication.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service’s policies on dealing with infectious disease address child and staff immunisation, including exclusion periods
  • how the service’s guidelines for the exclusion of ill children and educators are implemented
  • how families are advised of cases of infectious illnesses in the service, including information about the nature of the illness, incubation and infectious periods and the service’s exclusion requirements for the illness
  • how the service implements its procedure for notifying families of injuries that affect children while in education and care
  • how the service responds to a serious accident or health-related emergency involving a child
  • how the service communicates information about a child’s individual health requirements to staff members
  • how the service conveys concerns or questions about a child’s health needs to their family
  • how information about a child’s individual health is kept confidential.

School age children

  • arrangements for negotiating individual procedures for the administration of medication with families and children
  • how/if information about the child’s individual health requirements is communicated with the school.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • policies and procedures relating to incident, injury, trauma, illness and medical conditions
  • the service’s policy and procedures on dealing with infectious disease, including notifying families of cases of infectious illnesses in the service and exclusion of ill children, that is consistent with current information from a relevant recognised authority
  • an up-to-date first aid kit or kits readily available wherever children are (including in the service and on excursions or during transportation that is provided or arranged by the service)
  • current records of the status of children’s immunisations, including a written process for obtaining information from families about their children’s current immunisation status
  • a written process for observing, responding to and recording signs of illness and injury in children and notifying families of illness or injuries that affect children while at the service
  • information that has been provided to educators and families about child and adult immunisation recommendations
  • enrolment records containing health information and authorisations for each child enrolled at the service
  • individual medical management plans provided by the parents of children with a specific health care need, allergy or a diagnosed relevant medical condition, including but not limited to asthma, diabetes or risk of anaphylaxis
  • a written process for and records of the administration of medication for children that includes:
    • authorisation from a parent or guardian to administer the medication
    • the name of the medication being administered
    • details of the time and dosage of the medication administered
    • the signature of the person who administered the medication

Centre-based services

  • the signature of the person who witnessed the administration of medication
 

Element 2.1.3: Healthy lifestyle

Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.1.3

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Regulation 78 Food and beverages

Regulation 79 Service providing food and beverages

Regulation 80 Weekly menu

What Element 2.1.3 aims to achieve

Healthy eating and physical activity contribute to children’s ability to socialise, concentrate, co-operate and learn. Learning about healthy lifestyles, including nutrition, sleep and rest, personal hygiene, physical fitness, emotions, safe and healthy digital technology use and social relationships, is integral to wellbeing and self-confidence (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Good nutrition is essential to healthy living and enables children to be active participants in play and leisure (Early Years Learning Framework). Education and care settings provide many opportunities for children to experience a range of nutritious food and to learn about healthy food choices from educators and other children.

Physical activity enhances brain development, coordination and social and motor skills and helps children to build confidence in their own abilities, develop their independence, and enjoy being active. The educational leader and educators foster physical and psychological development in children by encouraging physical activity that is challenging, extends thinking and offers opportunities to collaborate and take considered, calculated and appropriate risks. Identity and confidence are built when all children are offered genuine choices, time and opportunity to exercise agency, act on their own to increase autonomy, resilience and persistence (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Instead of trying to eliminate all risk from children’s play, it is important to understand that risky play can be acceptable where the benefit to children’s learning outweighs the risks. Risks can be managed through conducting risk assessments, and weighing the obligation to protect children from foreseeable risk of harm against the benefit of providing children with a stimulating play environment.

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.1.3 (for all services)

Healthy eating

Assessors may observe:

 

 

  • educators:
    • engaging children in experiences, conversations and routines that promote relaxed and enjoyable mealtimes and promote healthy lifestyles (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
    • using cooking experiences to further children’s understandings of healthy food and nutrition
    • following the service’s procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink
    • never using food to reward or punish children
    • encouraging children to eat healthy food without requiring them to eat food they don’t like or to eat more than they need, including supporting children to recognise when they are hungry or ‘full’
    • sitting with children and modelling, implementing and reinforcing healthy eating and nutrition practices with children during mealtimes
    • consulting children about their routines and meal times

Birth to three

  • responding to babies’ verbal and non-verbal cues about their preferred food preferences and meal times
 
  • children:
    • showing an awareness of healthy lifestyles and good nutrition
    • being provided with food that is consistent with the:
  • Australian Government guidelines Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood, and/or
  • Australian Dietary Guidelines
    • eating food that is consistent with advice provided by families about their child’s dietary requirements, likes, dislikes, and any other requirements families have regarding their child’s nutrition
    • who have not eaten at the routine time or who are hungry being provided with food outside of routine meal and snack times

School age children

  • being provided with food and drinks consistent with the menu
  • having ready access to water and being regularly offered water throughout the day
  • being involved in choosing and preparing healthy meals
 adequate quantities of food available for children that are consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines, as well as sufficient food for children who may request more

Birth to three

  • babies being fed individually by educators according to each child’s routine
  • educators following the service’s procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink, including breast milk
  • a supportive environment for mothers to breastfeed
  • children being supported by educators to feed themselves.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service:
    • meets the needs of children with special dietary requirements
    • consults with families and children to learn about children’s individual requirements for food, their likes and dislikes in relation to food and any culturally appropriate food requirements

Birth to three

  • supports families’ choices regarding infant feeding, including breastfeeding and bottle feeding
  • supports families who choose to breastfeed their child while they are at the service
 where food is brought from home, how the service encourages families to provide food that is consistent with the Australian Government guidelines (Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood, and/or Australian Dietary Guidelines), and is focused on developing respectful relationships and supporting families in their parenting role.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s health and safety policy, including nutrition, food, drink and dietary requirements
  • program planning including cooking experiences that promote healthy eating and knowledge of nutrition
  • the service’s policy on dealing with medical conditions such as anaphylaxis and allergies
  • written procedures for the safe storage and heating of food and drink
  • resources for families and children on healthy eating and referrals to further information
  • written menus (where the service is responsible for providing food) on display, detailing the food provided for children that are consistent with the:
  • if the menu is changed, notification is displayed for families so that they are informed of their children’s meals that day
  • furniture and utensils that are age appropriate and encourage children to be positively involved in and enjoy mealtimes

Birth to three

  • evidence that families are provided with daily information about their child’s intake and experiences with food and drink
  • written procedures for the safe storage and heating of babies’ bottles and breast milk

Physical activity

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • implementing physical games and activities as part of the program and encouraging each child’s participation
    • encouraging and supporting all children to participate in new or unfamiliar physical activities according to each child’s abilities and their level of comfort
    • becoming involved and demonstrating enjoyment in children’s physical activity
    • encouraging children to identify and manage risks in their play, including providing opportunities for children to problem-solve
  • children:
    • being encouraged and supported to use increasingly complex sensory motor skills and movement patterns that:
      • combine gross and fine motor movement and balance
      • increase their spatial awareness and orient themselves
      • use their sensory perceptions and physical capabilities (Early Years Learning Framework)
    • having frequent opportunities to engage in active play
    • showing enthusiasm for participating in physical play and negotiating play spaces to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and others
    • helping to plan and set up physical play activities and equipment
    • initiating and leading physical play activities with peers
  • children and educators talking about how their bodies work and the importance of physical activity to people’s health and wellbeing
  • educators planning and implementing opportunities for all children to engage in dance, creative movement and drama and to respond to traditional and contemporary music and storytelling
  • indoor and outdoor areas that are organised in ways to promote safe physical play and activity for children of different age groups and capabilities

Birth to three

  • provision of safe areas and encouragement for babies to practise rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, walking and climbing
  • support for all children to develop co-ordinated movement through planned experiences, such as action songs, dancing and throwing and kicking balls.

Assessors may discuss how the service:

 

  • maintains a balance between spontaneous and planned physical activity, and passive and active leisure experiences, for all children
  • manages risk while providing a stimulating learning and play environment for children
  • considers children’s voices in planning physical activities, including opportunities for physical play that support the abilities, diversity, backgrounds, capabilities and interests of each child attending the service
  • provides appropriate resources to support all children’s interest and participation in physical activity.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • how the planned program incorporates physical activity that meets each child’s capabilities and extends their development, including how it balances quiet/passive play times with more energetic outdoor play
  • evidence that information about the importance of physical activity to children’s health and development is communicated to families.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 2.1: Health

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 2.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at  https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 2.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard and its component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • consistently attuned to and responding to all children’s changing health, wellbeing and physical activity requirements throughout the day?
    • providing a range of opportunities to effectively address and respond to children’s needs for sleep, rest, relaxation and active and passive leisure throughout the day, individually and in groups?
    • managing and supporting children’s health and medical needs in line with established best practice at all times?
    • actively promoting healthy eating, physical activity, and effective hygiene practices in the delivery of the daily program?
    • providing regular opportunities for explicit learning about health and wellbeing?
    • responding confidently to the daily events that impact on children’s health, wellbeing and activity needs?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to supporting and promoting children’s health, wellbeing and physical activity consistently align with the design and delivery of the educational program and service philosophy, and demonstrate a strong commitment to the priorities, vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework?
  • How does the service's approach to supporting and promoting children's health, wellbeing and physical activity reflect a commitment to the prevention of illness and injuries, and how is this evident in the service's approach to reporting and responding to health and illness-related incidents?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • systematically and regularly reflect on opportunities to enhance each child’s health and wellbeing outcomes and promote physical activity with children and families?
    • seek out and consider alternate ways of supporting each child’s health, wellbeing and activity needs, and make changes where opportunities to further enhance children’s outcomes are identified?
    • explain how reflection on children’s changing health, wellbeing and activity needs influences the design and delivery of the educational program?
    • reflect together on health and illness-related incidents, and support the service to make changes to practices, policies and procedures where opportunities are identified to strengthen the approach?
    • discuss the influences on their approach to supporting and promoting each child’s health, wellbeing and activity requirements and outcomes, the recognised guidelines that underpin their practice approach, and how these build on the approved learning framework/s and the service’s health policies and procedures?
    • consider and discuss social justice, equity and inclusion implications of their practice decisions to ensure that practice takes into account the needs and rights of every child at the service?
  • How is the service’s approach to supporting and promoting all children’s health, wellbeing and activity needs and outcomes reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection on past incidents?
  • How is the service’s approach to supporting and promoting all children’s health, wellbeing and physical activity, including safe sleep and nutrition, informed by current recognised guidelines, research evidence and/or up-to-date information?
  • How are changes to the service’s approach to supporting and promoting all children’s health, wellbeing and activity needs understood by all and implemented appropriately?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • engage meaningfully and regularly with families to discuss children’s changing health, wellbeing and physical activity requirements, including their interests, preferences and strengths, and sleep and rest needs to incorporate these into the program?
    • work directly with children, families, and professionals as appropriate to develop targeted practices that are responsive to children’s evolving health, wellbeing, sleep and rest and activity needs?
    • incorporate all children’s changing health, wellbeing, sleep and rest and activity needs, interests, preferences and strengths into the design and delivery of the educational program, including information gathered from families and the community and directly from children?
    • proactively promote children’s health, wellbeing, sleep and rest and physical activity with families and the community?
    • build partnerships with families and the broader community to further enhance children’s health, wellbeing, sleep and rest and activity outcomes, for example through collaborative initiatives with health professionals and other support services?
  • How is the service's approach to supporting and promoting all children's health, wellbeing, sleep and rest and activity suited to and drawing inspiration from the unique environmental, cultural, social and community context of the service, with consideration to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 2.2: Safety

Each child is protected.

How Standard 2.2 contributes to quality education and care

Children have a fundamental right to be protected and kept safe when they attend an education and care service. Unsafe settings and situations can negatively impact on children’s physical health and wellbeing, which in turn can negatively affect their experiences, learning and wellbeing in the present and throughout their lives.

Through a widening network of secure relationships, children develop confidence and feel respected and valued. A strong sense of wellbeing promotes children’s confidence and optimism, which maximises their learning and development (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 2.2 (for all services)

Protecting each child

 
  • How do we enact trauma informed practices and engage with other professionals to enhance the learning, development and wellbeing of children who may not have experienced safe and supportive family environments? 
  • How do we build culturally safe environments for children and their families and ensure children and young people are provided with consistent emotional support?
  • How do we identify potential supervision risks in the service?
  • How do we plan to ensure that all areas used by children are effectively supervised, including when children are participating in high-risk activities or varying their activities?
  • How do we plan to manage supervision of small groups of children who may need to be in a different space from the main group, such as children who sleep for longer periods than others at different times, children who take longer to finish mealtimes or children who want to engage in quiet, solo activities away from other groups of children?
  • How do we provide sleeping infants and children with safe sleeping equipment and environments that meet Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requirements?
  • How do we identify, assess, manage and record hazards and potential risks for children, such as potentially dangerous products, plants, objects and animals at the service, and how often do we do this?
  • How do we support children to understand and engage in protective behaviours such as telling others to stop doing something that makes them feel unhappy or unsafe? 
  • How do we educate children on how to identify safe adults in their life and safely seek help if they need to? 
  • How do we create an environment where children feel safe and are encouraged to ask for help? 
  • How do we support children to develop and use correct language to describe body parts so that they can communicate and disclose information when they feel unsafe?
  • How do we ensure children themselves are alerted to safety issues and encouraged to develop the skills to assess and manage risks to their own safety?
  • How do we ensure that all equipment and materials used in the service meet relevant safety standards, including bedding and sun protection resources and equipment?
  • How do we conduct risk assessments for potential excursions and plan for children’s safety during excursions?
  • How do we conduct risk assessments around sleep and rest at the service to guide stronger safe sleeping practices, better supervision and enhanced protection of children from harm and hazards during periods of sleep and rest?
  • How do we conduct risk assessments for potential transportation of children and plan for children’s safety during transportation provided or arranged by the service?
  • How do we identify which emergency procedures and specific action plans are required for our service and how often do we practise these? What recognised authorities are consulted in the development of these plans?
  • How do we maintain an awareness of the people who have contact with children at the service and/or who collect children from the service?
  • How do we keep up to date with current legislation in our state or territory in relation to child protection, and ensure that all staff understand how to report their concerns about child protection issues?

Family day care

  • How do we discuss and manage supervision risks associated with working in isolation and during overnight care?
  • How do we discuss and manage transport arrangements, including supervision and safety considerations (for example, child safety in educators’ vehicles and safe fitting of car seats)?

School age children

  • How do we keep up to date with current information on travelling safely, such as bus travel and bike safety?

Element 2.2.1: Supervision

At all times, reasonable precautions and adequate supervision ensure children are protected from harm and hazard.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.2.1

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Section 165 Offence to inadequately supervise children

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Section 167 Offence relating to protection of children from harm and hazards

Section 170 Offence relating to unauthorised persons on education and care service premises

Section 171 Offence relating to direction to exclude inappropriate persons from education and care premises

Regulation 82 Tobacco, drug and alcohol free environment

Regulation 83 Staff members and family day care educators not to be affected by alcohol or drugs

Regulation 84A Sleep and rest

Regulation 84B Sleep and rest policies and procedures

Regulation 84C Risk assessment for purposes of sleep and rest policies and procedures

Regulation 84D Prohibition of bassinets

Regulation 99 Children leaving the education and care service premises

Regulation 100 Risk assessment must be conducted before excursion

Regulation 101 Conduct of risk assessment for excursion

Regulation 102 Authorisation for excursions

Regulation 102AAB Safe arrival of children policies and procedures

Regulation 102AAC Risk assessment for the purposes of safe arrival of children policies and procedures

Regulation 102B Transport risk assessment must be conducted before service transports a child

Regulation 102C Conduct of risk assessment for transporting of children by the education and care service

Regulation 102D Authorisation for service to transport children

Regulation 102E Children embarking a means of transport—centre-based service

Regulation 102F Children disembarking a means of transport—centre-based service

What Element 2.2.1 aims to achieve

Supervision is a key aspect of ensuring that children’s safety is protected at all times in the service environment and while on excursion and during transportation provided or arranged by the service.

The educational leader and educators promote children’s learning, wellbeing and development by creating safe physical and social environments that have a positive impact. All children have a right to be protected from potential hazards and dangers posed by products, plants, objects, animals and people in the immediate and wider environment. Educators need to be alert to and aware of the potential for accidents and injury throughout the service, not just within their immediate area.

By fostering children’s capacity to understand and respect the social and natural environment, educators create learning environments that encourage children to explore, problem solve and create and construct in challenging and safe ways.

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.2.1 (for all services)

Adequate supervision

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • being supervised in all areas of the service, by being in sight and/or hearing of an educator at all times, including during toileting, sleep, rest and transition routines*
    • being unable to access unsupervised or unsafe areas in the service
    • only being taken outside the service premises by an educator, co-ordinator, nominated supervisor, parent or authorised nominee

* Red Nose Australia recognises continuous supervision, in which an educator is in sight and hearing of a sleeping child at all times, represents best practice.

  • educators:
    • ensuring all children are supervised effectively at all times
    • supervising children closely when they are in a situation that presents a higher risk of injury—for example, during water play or woodwork experiences or on an excursion or during transportation provided or arranged by the service
    • adjusting their levels of supervision depending on the area of the service and the skills, age mix, dynamics and size of the group of children they are supervising
    • talking with children about safety issues and correct use of equipment and the environment and, where appropriate, involving children in setting safety rules
    • discussing sun safety with children and implementing appropriate measures to protect children from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation such as sunburn

Birth to three

  • monitoring and adequately supervising sleeping children according to the services’ policies and procedures around sleep and rest
  • firm, flat sleep surfaces offered for all sleep and rest periods

Centre-based services

  • exchanging information about supervision with colleagues to ensure that there are no areas being accessed by children without supervision, while recognising children’s need for privacy
 
  • nominated supervisors, co-ordinators, educators and family day care educator assistants:
    • supervising every person who enters and leaves the service premises in areas where children are present
    • following the service’s procedures for releasing children and ensuring they are released only to parents or authorised nominees
  • safe sleep and rest practices (according to best practice guidance) being implemented and the service using cots and safe sleeping equipment that meet Australian standards and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) requirements. Note that bassinets must not be on the education and care service premises (including centre based care and family day care) at any time that children are being educated and cared for by the service. Portacots should only be used for temporary, short-term arrangements, not for regular use for children enrolled at an education and care service*
  • equipment, furniture and activities arranged to ensure adequate supervision while also allowing children to access private and quiet spaces.

* Portacots should only be used for temporary, short-term arrangements, not for regular use for children enrolled at an education and care service. According to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission guidelines, portacots are designed for brief, temporary use and are more susceptible to wear and tear. Portacots should not be used as permanent sleeping equipment due to potential risk of harm to children.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators:
    • involve educators in identifying and managing risks to maintain adequate supervision at all times
    • inform new and/or relief educators of the service’s supervision arrangements and what they are required to do in relation to supervising children
    • promote engagement in children’s play and experiences whilst maintaining supervision requirements
    • ensure that supervision arrangements are flexible to allow supervision of individuals or small groups of children, such as when children are sleeping or indoor and outdoor experiences are concurrently offered to children
    • balance supervision requirements with children’s needs for privacy and independence
  • If children are taken on excursions or transport is provided or arranged by the service, how the service plans for and undertakes excursions or transportation of children

Family day care

  • how the service ensures that children are not left alone with visitors to the family day care residence or approved family day care venue.
  • how the service plans for and manages risk associated with overnight supervision
  • how the choice of sleeping spaces supports adequate supervision

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence of planning for the supervision of children in outdoor and indoor areas, including supervision of nappy changing/toileting, and meal and sleep routines
  • the service’s policy and procedures on delivery and collection of children that ensures that children are released only to authorised nominees
  • records of children’s attendance, including arrivals and departures, with the signature of the person responsible for verifying the accuracy of the record and the identity of the person collecting the child
  • a written process for monitoring who enters and leaves the service premises at all times
  • evidence of detailed information provided to families regarding excursions, including the destination, means of transport, educator-to-child ratios and the number of adults in attendance, and written authorisation for children to be taken outside the service premises, including for excursions or regular outings (except during emergency situations)
  • where applicable, evidence of detailed information provided to families regarding transportation of children, including the proposed pick-up location and destination, the means of transport and the number of staff and any other adults involved in the transportation, and written authorisation for children to be taken outside the service premises, including for regular transportation

Family day care

  • evidence that a record is kept of all visitors to a family day care residence or approved family day care venue that includes the signature of the visitor and the time of the visitor’s arrival and departure.

Reasonable precautions

Assessors may observe:

 

  • nominated supervisors, educators, co-ordinators and family day care educator assistants:
    • implementing daily safety checks and monitoring the maintenance of buildings, equipment and the general environment
    • implementing the service’s policy and procedures regarding the use and storage of dangerous products
    • removing identified hazards immediately or securing the area to prevent children from accessing the hazard
    • implementing risk minimisation plans for children enrolled at the service who have a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition

Birth to three

  • educators attending to children:
    • at all times when they are eating or drinking
    • closely when they are in situations that present a higher risk of injury—for example, on a nappy change table or in a high chair
 
  • children:
    • being unable to access potentially hazardous items, such as medications, detergents, cleaning products and garden chemicals, and that such items are clearly labelled at all times
    • being unable to access power points, double adaptors and power boards and that other electrical equipment and electrical cords are secured
  • adequate supervision of children consuming hot food and drink
  • toys and equipment made available to children only in areas where they may be used safely
  • a tobacco, drug and alcohol free environment
  • simple warning signs where potentially dangerous products are stored
  • poisonous or hazardous plants identified, explained to children and in some instances removed or not made accessible to children, or children are adequately supervised
  • that, where drinks, food and cooking utensils/appliances are used as part of the program, they do not present an unacceptable risk to children
  • secure, protective caps placed in all unused power points that are accessible to children
  • climbing equipment, swings and large pieces of furniture having stable bases and/or are securely anchored
  • climbing equipment, swings and other large pieces of equipment located over areas with soft fall surfaces that meet the requirements under the Australian Standards for Playgrounds
  • animals that may pose a risk to children kept separate and apart from areas used by children, unless involved in a specific activity that is directly supervised by educators

Birth to three

  • safe sleep practices being implemented and the service using cots, other bedding equipment and accessories that meet Australian Standards
  • hot drinks and hot food being made and consumed away from areas that are accessible to children.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how daily safety checks of buildings, equipment and the general environment are conducted and what action is taken as a result of the checks
  • the service’s approach to sun protection
  • how safety is maintained when children are involved in food preparation/cooking activities
  • how safety and hygiene are maintained when animals are part of the service
  • where the service transports children:
    • how the service maintains up to date with current information and laws on child restraints in vehicles
    • that the vehicle is suitable and safe for all children
    • how the service ensures car seats, restraints and booster seats are approved and fitted in accordance with Australian Standards and are in good working order

Family day care

  • if there is a firearm on the premises:
    • occasions on which the firearm may be used
    • where the firearm and ammunition are stored
    • that the firearm is not in the presence of children at any time.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • written procedures for conducting daily safety checks and identifying and undertaking the maintenance of buildings and equipment
  • completed daily safety checks of buildings, equipment and the general environment
  • records of pest/vermin inspections and/or eradications
  • in relation to excursions:
    • the service’s policy and procedures on excursions
    • evidence of planning for excursions that includes a written risk assessment undertaken prior to conducting an excursion and provided to families prior to conducting excursions, and that supervision implications were considered
    • documented evidence of detailed information provided to families regarding excursions, including the destination, means of transport, educator-to-child ratio and number of adults in attendance
    • documented authorisation for children to be taken outside the service’s premises or to alternative areas within the premises (for example an area of the building or school premises that is not approved space or that cannot be used during normal operating hours)
  • in relation to transportation provided or arranged by the service:
    • the service’s policy and procedures on transportation, including for transporting children other than as part of an excursion (if applicable)
    • evidence of planning for transporting children that includes a written risk assessment undertaken and provided to families prior to transporting a child, and that adequate supervision implications were considered
    • documented evidence of detailed information provided to families regarding transportation of children, including the proposed pick-up location and destination, the means of transport and the number of staff and any other adults involved in the transportation, and written authorisation for children to be taken outside the premises
  • in relation to sleep and rest periods:
    • the service’s policy and procedures on sleep and rest that include the prescribed matters under the National Regulations
    • evidence of planning for sleep and rest periods that includes a risk assessment undertaken considering the prescribed matters under National Regulations
    • if applicable, evidence of planning for overnight care that includes a risk assessment
    • evidence that information about the service’s approach to safe sleep is documented and shared with families

Centre-based services

  • evidence of planning for a staff member or nominated supervisor (other than the driver) to be present when children are embarking or disembarking a vehicle at the service premises for regular transportation 
  • records that include the name and signature of the person or persons who confirmed children were accounted for and how they were accounted for when they embarked and disembarked a vehicle at the education and care service premises
  • records that include the name and signature of the person or persons that confirmed the interior of the vehicle was checked after all children disembarked at the education and care services premises for regulator transportation 
 
  • the service’s medical conditions policy
  • the service’s policy on dealing with water safety, including safety during water-based activities
  • enrolment records that include authorisations and health information
  • the service’s policy and procedures on sun protection and evidence that information about the service’s approach to sun protection is shared with families

Family day care

  • if there is a firearm on the premises:
    • the firearms licence
    • the ammunition is stored in a locked container separate to the container that holds the firearm
    • the firearm is not accessible to children and located in a locked storage container as required by state and territory legislation.

Element 2.2.2: Incident and emergency management

Plans to effectively manage incidents and emergencies are developed in consultation with relevant authorities, practised and implemented.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.2.2

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Regulation 97 Emergency and evacuation procedures

Regulation 98 Telephone or other communication equipment

What Element 2.2.2 aims to achieve

Planning to manage incidents and emergencies assists services to:

  • protect children, adults and staff
  • maintain children’s wellbeing and a safe environment
  • meet the requirements of relevant workplace health and safety legislation.

Having a clear plan for the management and communication of incidents and emergencies assists educators to handle these calmly and effectively, reducing the risk of further harm or damage.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.2.2 (for all services)

Incident and emergency management

Assessors may observe:

 

  • emergency procedures displayed prominently throughout the education and care premises, including a family day care residence or venue
  • nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators having ready access to an operating telephone or other similar means of communication
  • emergency telephone numbers displayed near telephones
  • service staff having ready access to emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service communicates information to families about the service’s emergency procedures and plans to manage incidents
  • how the service ensures that service staff are informed about and understand the service’s emergency procedures and plans, including any matters specifically affecting services or family day care residences/venues located in multi-storey buildings
  • procedures for managing incidents and emergencies in single-staff services
  • how the service discusses and practises emergency drills with children
  • the provision of training for nominated supervisors, educators, co-ordinators and family day care educator assistants in the use of emergency equipment.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • procedures for managing incidents and emergencies and providing a child-safe environment
  • records of emergency drills, and evaluations of these
  • a current, portable record of children’s emergency contacts that can be carried by educators in case of emergencies and/or evacuations
  • written emergency and evacuation procedures that include instructions for what must be done in the event of an emergency and an emergency evacuation floor plan (for example, a plan for a bushfire in a bushfire-prone area), which are displayed in a prominent position near each exit at the premises or family day care residence or venue
  • written plans to manage an emergency that may be likely to affect individuals at the service (for example, the management of an asthma attack, anaphylactic reaction or epileptic fit)
  • written communication with families about the service’s emergency procedures and plans to manage incidents
  • evidence that emergency equipment is tested as recommended by recognised authorities.

Element 2.2.3: Child protection

Management, educators and staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 2.2.3

Section 51(1)(a) Conditions on service approval (safety, health and wellbeing of children)

Section 162A Persons in day-to-day charge, nominated supervisors and family day care co-ordinators to have child protection training

Regulation 84 Awareness of child protection law

Additional state/territory requirements

In addition to complying with the National Quality Framework, approved providers, educators and other staff may be required to report on incidents or suspected incidents involving children under other state and territory laws including child protection legislation.

Information about notifications can be found throughout the guide.
See also Provider and service approvals.

What Element 2.2.3 aims to achieve

Management, educators, family day care educator assistants and other staff members must be aware of current child protection policy and procedures, including their legal responsibilities, and be able to act when required to protect any child who is at risk of abuse or neglect.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 2.2.3 (for all services)

Awareness of role and responsibility to protect children

Assessors may observe educators:

 

  • listening and responding to families’ comments about their day-to-day observations of their child and the events occurring in their lives
  • remaining vigilant about observing and responding to signs or indicators of child abuse and/ or neglect
  • discussing with children what it feels like to feel safe and unsafe and how they can seek help when they feel unsafe.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how nominated supervisors, educators, family day care co-ordinators, educator assistants, and staff members develop their awareness of any obligation under child protection law and how they articulate these obligations and responsibilities?
  • how new or relieving educators, family day care educator assistants and other staff members are made aware of their responsibilities in relation to child protection and the particular protection needs of individual children in the service
  • any support mechanisms in place for educators and other staff members who identify children at risk
  • how nominated supervisors, educators, co-ordinators, family day care educator assistants and staff members support each child’s understanding of consent, respecting each child’s physical space and using touch only when necessary and appropriate.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence:
    • that current information about child protection procedures and expectations is provided to service staff
    • that current information about child protection law and individual obligations under the relevant legislation is provided to service staff
    • that nominated supervisors, educators, family day care co-ordinators and family day care educator assistants have attended training or professional development on child protection
    • that information is provided to families about the service’s practices in relation to child protection
    • that nominated supervisors, educators and co-ordinators work collaboratively with other authorities and/or professionals to support children who have specific protection needs
  • the service’s policy and procedures on a child safe environment that ensures child protection measures are considered in the physical and online environments

Family day care

  • that educators’ families have been provided with information and/or training to support their understanding and response to suspected child protection issues
 
  • a current list of local community resources that can provide information and support for children, families and service staff in relation to children at risk of abuse and/or neglect.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 2.2: Safety

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 2.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at  https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 2.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • consistently attuned to the needs of all children, including children with additional needs or disabilities to ensure each child’s safety at all times? 
    • adopting and embedding trauma-informed practice to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children who have experienced adversity?
    • identifying and responding confidently to changes in the service environment throughout the day, adjusting practice where necessary to ensure that all children are safe and effectively supervised at all times?
    • consistently seeking opportunities to talk with children about feeling safe and unsafe, how to identify safe adults and ways to seek help when feeling unsafe?
    • proactively identifying and managing risks in online environments, including where adults may have opportunities to interact with children unsupervised online, to protect all children from harm?
  • How is ongoing risk assessment and management built into day-to-day operations across the service to ensure a consistently safe environment?
  • Are effective plans to manage incidents and emergencies developed and reviewed in consultation with relevant authorities and practised regularly?
  • In what ways does the observed and discussed approach to supporting and promoting all children’s safety consistently align with the design and delivery of the educational program and service philosophy and demonstrate a strong commitment to the priorities, vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • systematically and regularly reflect, individually and as a team, on practices to support child safety, including risk assessment and emergency management procedures and practices, and make changes when opportunities to further enhance children’s outcomes are identified?
    • respond and adjust supervision strategies as required?
    • explain how an ongoing commitment to all children’s safety, including cultural safety and online safety, influences the design and delivery of the educational program?
    • reflect together on safety-related incidents, and support the service to make changes to practices, policies and procedures where opportunities to strengthen the approach are identified?
    • show awareness of and discuss the influences on their practice to support and promote all children’s safety, including recognised guidelines, information sources, and other legislation that underpins their practice approach, and how they align with the approved learning framework/s and the service’s policies and procedures?
    • consider and discuss social justice and equity implications of their practice decisions to support and promote each child’s safety, ensuring that practice takes into account the needs and rights of every child at the service?
  • How is the service’s approach to risk assessment, emergency management and child protection reflective of current recognised guidelines and up-to-date information from trusted sources?
  • How is the service’s approach to supporting and promoting all children’s safety reflective of robust debate, discussion, and genuine opportunities for input by all educators and informed by critical reflection on past incidents?
  • To what extent is any change to the service’s approach to supporting and promoting children’s safety understood by all?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How do educators:
    • actively engage with families about their concerns and priorities for their children’s safety?
    • actively raise awareness of issues impacting on child safety with families and the community, including in the context of child protection?
    • familiarise themselves with and respond respectfully to the differing social and cultural contexts of families and the community that impact on perspectives about child safety and protection, while ensuring that practice decisions always reflect a best practice approach?
  • How is the service’s approach to managing risks and supporting child safety:
    • reflective of the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
    • informed by meaningful and ongoing partnerships with the broader community, for example local community and emergency services?
    • considerate of the geographical context of the service and responsive to changes in the environment throughout the year?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Quality Area 3: Physical environment

Overview

Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard focuses on the physical environment. The physical environment is critical to:

  • contributing to children’s wellbeing, creativity and developing independence
  • providing a diverse range of experiences that promote all children’s learning and development
  • keeping all children safe
  • creating/organising spaces to reduce the risk of injury 
  • inclusive practice, including catering for different learning capacities and allowing for reasonable adjustments to be made when required
  • building an intercultural space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge are shared
  • providing opportunities for children to learn on and from Country
  • supporting children to appreciate and develop their ability to engage with concepts of social, economic and environmental sustainability as well as social justice, sharing and democracy.

 

Related National Law and National Regulations

The National Law and National Regulation provisions that are directly relevant to Quality Area 3 are listed under the corresponding element.

Other requirements in the National Law and National Regulations that are relevant to Quality Area 3 are:

  • Part 3 of the National Law: Service approval
  • Regulation 25 Additional information about proposed education and care service premises.

Additional state/territory and local government requirements

In addition to complying with the National Quality Framework, services must also comply with other relevant national, state/territory and local government requirements. These include:

  • the Building Code of Australia
  • food safety standards (for kitchens and food preparation areas)
  • relevant Australian Standards (for example, pool safety, playground equipment and soft fall).

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 3 has two Standards that focus on the design of service facilities and the use of the service’s physical environment to support children’s experiences. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality learning outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • inclusive built and natural environments in indoor and outdoor spaces, when appropriately resourced, promote play-based learning
  • well maintained, fit-for-purpose facilities keep children safe and support each child’s access to facilities and participation in activities/experiences
  • the physical environment significantly impacts on the quality of children’s experiences and encourages children to become environmentally responsible.
Standard/ElementsConceptDescriptor
QA3 Physical environment
3.1DesignThe design of the facilities is appropriate for the operation of a service.
3.1.1Fit for purposeOutdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures and fittings are suitable for their purpose, including supporting the access of every child.
3.1.2UpkeepPremises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained.
3.2UseThe service environment is inclusive, promotes competence and supports exploration and play-based learning.
3.2.1Inclusive environmentOutdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child's participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.
3.2.2Resources support play-based learningResources, materials and equipment allow for multiple uses, are sufficient in number, and enable every child to engage in play-based learning.
3.2.3Environmentally responsibleThe service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

Standard 3.1: Design

The design of the facilities is appropriate for the operation of a service.

How Standard 3.1 contributes to quality education and care

The way in which the service environment is designed, equipped and arranged determines how children use space and resources. The environment also impacts on the behaviours and interactions of children and adults.

Indoor environments are characterised by open spaces that provide children with opportunities to be involved in self-chosen and negotiated experiences that can be quiet or active learning situations, solitary play experiences, or routines with small and large groups.

Quality indoor spaces:

  • support the emerging interests of every child and enable them to demonstrate their innate creativity and curiosity
  • reflect the cultures, interests, abilities and learning styles of every child
  • recognise children as active learners and competent decision makers.

Outdoor environments are characterised by both active and quiet zones that comprise a balance of fixed and moveable equipment, open space to engage in physical activities, and spaces that promote investigation and respect for the natural environment.

Outdoor spaces that are dynamic and flexible:

  • provide opportunities for unique play and learning
  • complement and extend the indoor learning experiences
  • offer children opportunities to be active, make mess and noise, and be wholly engaged in play.

To maximise children’s engagement in positive experiences and support the access of every child, services should consider:

  • the location of the service and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land on which the service is located
  • the amount of space and how it is arranged and used for different groups and ages of children
  • access between indoor and outdoor environments
  • the availability of furniture, equipment and resources, and arrangement of rooms
  • the availability of play spaces in natural environments that may include plants, trees, edible gardens, open spaces, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature (Early Years Learning Framework)
  • how the placement of buildings, fixtures and fittings supports the access of all children and families
  • internal and external noise levels
  • visibility and design that supports effective supervision
  • the air quality
  • ventilation and access to natural light.

Well-designed facilities support children to access different areas, move between indoor and outdoor spaces, explore, experiment, create and express themselves, while allowing others in the space to do the same. When educators, with support from the educational leader, create physical and social learning environments that have a positive impact on children’s learning, they are able to spend valuable time interacting with children. This enriches the lives and identities of children and families.

Providers of centre-based services must notify the regulatory authority of any change in the ages of children being educated or cared for and/or the nature of education and care provided (regulations 175(2)(ab) and (ac)). Doing so allows regulatory authorities to better identify and prevent possible risks within services. When there is a change in the ages of children being educated or cared for and/or the nature of education and care provided, providers need to ensure that each service has the facilities, staffing qualifications and knowledge specific to the current age group of children attending. Failing to do so can place children in settings that are unsuitable for their needs and may pose a risk to their health, safety and wellbeing. For example, introducing a cohort of children aged birth to two requires a range of changes within the service, including nappy change facilities and age-appropriate programming. Similarly, including children over preschool age within a service requires changes to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of these children. 

A change to the ages of children being educated or cared for and/or the nature of education and care provided may require:

  • a review of and change to resources, furniture and equipment to ensure safety, age-appropriateness and to provide sufficient challenge
  • changes to programming/documentation. Different approved frameworks may apply
  • a review of staffing because different numbers and qualification requirements may apply
  • a change to the physical environment, for example:
    • fencing, if a service will begin providing care to children preschool aged or under, and;
    • food and bottle preparation areas
  • updating policies and procedures, particularly in relation to emergencies and evacuation. 

It is important that physical spaces enable appropriate supervision of children in each age group. 

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 3.1 (for all services)

Appropriate design and upkeep

 
  • How does the environment support children’s learning? What barriers do we need to overcome?
  • What processes are in place to monitor the cleanliness and safety of the premises, furniture and equipment?
  • How does the design of the environment promote and foster all children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
  • How do we ensure that each child is safe entering and leaving the service?
  • How does the environment support the access of all children and families enrolled at the service and children who may enrol in the future?

School age children

  • How do we ensure the environment is organised to meet supervision requirements, and also provide appropriate spaces and activities for children’s need for privacy and autonomy?

Family day care

  • How are FDC educators supported and encouraged to maintain the upkeep of their residence’s environment to ensure children’s safety and wellbeing?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Element 3.1.1: Fit for purpose

Outdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures and fittings are suitable for their purpose, including supporting the access of every child.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 3.1.1

Regulation 84A Sleep and rest

Regulation 84B Sleep and rest policies and procedures

Regulation 84C Risk assessment for purposes of sleep and rest policies and procedures

Regulation 84D Prohibition of bassinets

Regulation 104 Fencing and security

Regulation 106 Laundry and hygiene facilities

Regulation 107 Space requirements—indoor space

Regulation 108 Space requirements—outdoor space

Regulation 109 Toilet and hygiene facilities

Regulation 110 Ventilation and natural light

Regulation 111 Administrative space

Regulation 112 Nappy change facilities

Regulation 114 Outdoor space—shade

Regulation 115 Premises designed to facilitate supervision

Regulation 116 Assessments of family day care residences and approved family day care venues

Regulation 116A Inspection of swimming pools, water features and other potential water hazards at family day care residences and approved family day care venues

Regulation 116B Inspection report

Regulation 116C Compliance with fencing requirements for swimming pools at family day care residences and approved family day care venues

Regulation 117 Glass (additional requirement for family day care)

Jurisdiction specific provisions

NSW – Regulation 274 Swimming pools

Tasmania – Regulation 345 Swimming pool prohibition

What Element 3.1.1 aims to achieve

To support each child’s access to indoor and outdoor environments, services (including family day care residences and venues) should have sufficient space, equipment and facilities that are fit for purpose and promote children’s learning and development. Well-designed indoor and outdoor spaces:

  • are flexible
  • are welcoming and accessible
  • reflect the diversity within the local and broader communities
  • support the health and safety of children, service staff and families
  • facilitate convenient and integrated access between indoor and outdoor areas, as well as convenient access to toilet (including nappy-changing, if applicable) and hand-washing facilities
  • are environmentally sustainable
  • promote an understanding of and respect for the natural environment
  • supports the grouping of children in ways that:
    • minimise the risk of injury
    • minimise conflict between children
    • reduce prolonged exposure to excess internal and external noise
    • promote children’s learning and development.

Age-appropriate furniture and equipment helps to minimise accidents and support children’s learning, growing independence, confidence and self-esteem.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 3.1.1 (for all services)

A fit for purpose service environment

Assessors may observe:

 

  • appropriately sized and equipped indoor and outdoor spaces
  • a physical environment that is safe and includes adequate space for solitary play, and for children to work, play and talk together in small and large groups
  • outdoor spaces with shaded areas that meet the recommendations of relevant recognised authorities for protection from the sun
  • environments designed to support each child’s access and participation and assist educators to:
    • adequately supervise all children, including maintaining adequate supervision of sleeping children
    • group children in ways that minimise the risk of injury and conflict, reduce prolonged exposure to excess noise, and promote children’s learning and development
  • fencing that provides safety
  • facilities that enable interaction and convenient access between indoor and outdoor spaces, including toilet (and nappy-changing, if applicable) and hand-washing facilities
  • a balance of natural and artificial lighting, adequate ventilation and fresh air
  • appropriate areas for food preparation and storage
  • quiet, comfortable and well-ventilated areas for sleeping and resting
  • space available for administrative functions, private conversations and consultation with families and for educator and staff breaks
  • facilities designed or adapted to support access by every child, family, educator and staff member, including making reasonable adjustments and supplying adaptive equipment to support the inclusion and participation of all children

Birth to three

  • nappy-changing and related facilities for services with children under three years of age
  • care is taken to meet the needs of non-mobile babies, including providing adequate indoor space

School age children

  • appropriate areas and resources for children and young people to rest and relax.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the administration spaces used to consult and discuss confidential matters with families

Centre-based services

  • where relevant, how the service has considered the impact of any building modifications and/or the installation of new furniture, storage areas and fixed equipment on the unencumbered space available
  • if the service has experienced a change in the age of children being educated or cared for or the nature of education and care being provided, how the service adapted their spaces to ensure they remained fit for purpose.

Family day care

  • how educators balance their family members’ need for privacy with providing sufficient space for the children being educated and cared for.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s approach to grouping children

Centre-based services

  • plans of indoor and outdoor areas, including information about soft fall
  • plans that show evaluation of and changes to the placement of furniture and equipment, if available

Family day care

  • where the service shares multi-purpose areas with a school, documented risk assessment of the physical environment in relation to:
    • access to, and use of, multi-purpose areas
    • the impact of multi-purpose areas on service delivery
    • the service’s approach to sharing the multi-purpose areas with the school

Family day care

  • the service’s registration documentation and assessments of educators’ approved premises.

Element 3.1.2: Upkeep

Premises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 3.1.2

Regulation 84D Prohibition of bassinets

Regulation 103 Premises, furniture and equipment to be safe, clean and in good repair

What Element 3.1.2 aims to achieve

In education and care services, the upkeep of buildings, furniture and equipment impact directly on the safety of children and service staff. Every child has the right to be safe.

Upkeep refers to the responsibility of services to implement effective maintenance, cleaning and appropriate safety precautions, which also helps prevent injuries and the spread of infectious diseases.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 3.1.2 (for all services)

Effective upkeep

Assessors may observe:

 

  • premises, furniture and equipment that are safe, clean and well maintained
  • educators regularly conducting safety checks and monitoring the maintenance of buildings and equipment
  • appropriate equipment used for safe sleeping arrangements, noting that bassinets are prohibited from education and care service premises (including centre based care and family day care) at any time that children are being educated and cared for by the service and all bedding equipment should be safe and in good repair
  • educators following safety advice from recognised authorities and manufacturers when using and arranging equipment, furniture and experiences such as Kidsafe Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
  • areas used by children that are regularly cleaned.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • schedules for cleaning all toys and equipment used by children
  • procedures for undertaking building and equipment maintenance at the service
  • the arrangements the service has for appropriate laundering of soiled items.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documented procedures, correspondence and schedules relating to:
    • maintenance and safety checks
    • the cleaning of buildings, premises, furniture and equipment
    • adhering to manufacturers’ advice when using and cleaning furniture and equipment
  • documents that confirm equipment meets Australian Standards and/or ACCC requirements, for example for cots, portacots, mattresses and other bedding equipment. In alignment with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) guidelines, portacots should only be used for temporary, short-term arrangements*
  • risk assessments of the physical environment

*Portacots should only be used for temporary, short-term arrangements, not for regular use for children enrolled at an education and care service. According to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission guidelines, portacots are designed for brief, temporary use and are more susceptible to wear and tear. Portacots should not be used as permanent sleeping equipment due to potential risk of harm to children.

Centre-based services

  • where relevant, a management plan that is in place to protect the safety of children, families and service staff while major work is occurring at the service.

Family day care services

  • a diagram showing the areas of a FDC residence or approved venue indicating the areas of the residence or venue suitable for the provision of education and care to children. The diagram should include the existence of any water hazards, water features or swimming pools at or near the FDC residence or venue.

 

Exceeding guidance for Standard 3.1: Design

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 3.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 3.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • To what extent are all outdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures and fittings:
    • promoting the meaningful participation of every child at all times, including children with disabilities or children who are experiencing barriers to learning?
    • promoting and positively supporting children’s interaction with space, materials and each other?
    • contributing to a flexible, engaging and stimulating environment that enhances each child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • safe, clean and well-maintained at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • able to explain how the design of the physical environment, including selection of furniture, equipment and resources, supports safe and inclusive access by all children and promotes each child’s full engagement with and participation in the program?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to the design and maintenance of the physical environment:
    • consistently align with the design and delivery of the educational program and service philosophy?
    • demonstrate a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?
    • consistently align with safety, cleanliness and maintenance advice from recognised authorities and reflect the service’s policies, procedures and record keeping systems?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to design and maintenance of the physical environment:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence on creating an inclusive, safe physical environment that strengthens all children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes and enhances their meaningful participation in the program?
  • Is any change to the service’s approach to design and maintenance of the physical environment understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do educators, the educational leader and co-ordinators:
    • attune to changes to the physical environment throughout the day and confidently adjust practice and the environment as needed to ensure the continued safety, participation and inclusion of all children?
    • reflect, individually and together, on the design of the physical environment, and consider opportunities to make changes to strengthen inclusion and meaningful participation, and to enhance all children’s safety, learning, development and wellbeing outcomes?
    • remain aware of and able to discuss the theoretical influences and understandings on the service’s design choices and how these align with the approved learning framework/s and the service’s philosophy, policies and procedures?
    • consider and discuss social justice and equity implications of design choices to ensure that the physical environment supports the needs and rights of every child at the service?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the design of the physical environment:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service, to affirm the identities and enrich the lives of all children and families?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
    • show that the service works creatively within the limitations of the physical setting?
  • How are opportunities for collaboration with family and community partners built into the service’s approach to designing and making changes to the physical environment?

Standard 3.2: Use

The service environment is inclusive, promotes competence and supports exploration and play-based learning.

How Standard 3.2 contributes to quality education and care

A service environment that is inclusive, promotes competence in children and supports exploration and play-based learning creates the context for children to learn and build relationships with others. Welcoming, safe, inclusive, vibrant and flexible environments support children’s exploration, creativity, learning and wellbeing, and are responsive to the individual requirements of each child. A quality physical environment caters for different learning capacities and learning styles, and encourages children and families to contribute ideas, interests and questions (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). It also supports the holistic way that children learn.

Exploration of the natural environment helps to build children’s competence and play-based learning. It also encourages children to develop an appreciation of the natural world, an awareness of the impact of human activity on the environment, and ways in which they can contribute to a sustainable future.

Resources should reflect the breadth of age groups, interests, curiosities, capabilities and cultures of children that are sharing the environment. Resources need to be accessible to children so they can choose and be responsible for their actions (Framework for School Age Care).

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 3.2 (for all services)

Inclusive environment

 
  • Is the environment welcoming, safe and inclusive for all children and families (within the constraints of our setting)?
  • What opportunities do we provide for all children to be involved in planning, setting up and modifying the environment?
  • How is the environment equipped and organised to cater for all ages and levels of capabilities?
  • How are the backgrounds and cultures of families and the broader community reflected in the environment?
  • How can we create opportunities for all children to learn on and from Country and seek information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connections and relationships with Country? 
  • How can the physical environment be adapted to include all children and be responsive to the strengths, culture, languages, interests and capabilities of each child?
  • How can we create a physical environment that welcomes and respects all children and families, and encourages their participation in learning experiences?

Promoting competence, supporting exploration and play-based learning

 
  • How can we organise environments and spaces to provide all children with opportunities to:
    • play independently as well as promote small and large group interactions?
    • engage in unstructured play?
  • How do we plan to use the physical space to support children in building relationships?
  • How do we support children’s interaction between the indoor and outdoor environments?
  • How does the organisation of the indoor and outdoor environment allow for a variety of uses by children and educators?
  • How do we arrange indoor and outdoor spaces that support all children’s access to materials and equipment?
  • What adaptions can be made to the environment or additional resources introduced to provoke interest, creativity, sustained shared thinking and collaborative learning?
  • How do we provide spaces that promote safe exploration, learning through play and interaction with the environment for children of all ages?
  • What equipment do we provide that allows for multiple uses?
  • How does the physical environment contribute positively to children’s developing autonomy and independence?
  • What features in the physical environment encourage open-ended interactions, spontaneity, considered and calculated risk taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature?
  • How do we regularly evaluate the effectiveness of learning environments and draw links to the intended learning outcomes?
  • What messages are given to children about how the service cares for the environment?
  • What strategies can we implement to support educators to model environmentally responsible practices, and foster children’s capacity to value and respect the broader environment?
  • How can we access additional information, ideas and strategies to support children to take an active role in caring for the environment and contribute to a sustainable future?
  • How do we foster children’s capacity to understand, care for and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals, land and waters? (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
  • How do we provide opportunities for children to learn about all dimensions of sustainability and engage with concepts of social justice, fairness, sharing, democracy and citizenship? (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)

School age children

  • What strategies are in place to provide appropriate levels of challenge to children and young people while ensuring that younger children are safe?

Family day care

  • How do we ensure the environment provides a diverse range of meaningful learning experiences while maintaining a warm, homely environment for children?

Element 3.2.1: Inclusive environment

Outdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child’s participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 3.2.1

Regulation 113 Outdoor space—natural environment

What Element 3.2.1 aims to achieve

Services provide an inclusive environment when indoor and outdoor spaces are designed to support the diverse needs, interests, preferences and learning styles of all children in the service. Educators can also enhance inclusion by identifying aspects of the environment that can be adapted, or reasonable adjustments made, to support each child’s participation. Indoor and outdoor environments offer significantly different yet complementary experiences and should be given equal focus and attention.

Flexible arrangements of furniture and equipment, together with materials that allow for multiple uses, encourage children to become flexible thinkers and investigators as they engage in play-based learning. A secure and predictable environment with adequate space and appropriate facilities and resources enables children to participate in experiences/activities of their choice, and take increasing responsibility for their own health, hygiene and personal care. This supports children to increase their self-confidence and competence, and provide them with a strong sense of self identify. Environments also support positive relationships when space is arranged for small groups of children to play and talk without undue distraction from children engaged in other activities.

School age care is characterised by opportunities to develop relationships. Some children and young people develop social skills through quiet play, such as talking to friends. Other children and young people socialise through physical play, requiring open spaces to develop physical and social skills, such as team building and leadership. Services should make space available for small and large groups to gather. Indoor and outdoor environments should be organised and adapted to support all aspects of children’s learning and invite conversations between children, educators, families and the broader community. Flexible environments allow for the range of activities that support the learning, development and wellbeing of school age children and young people (Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 3.2.1 (for all services)

Environments that support participation and quality experiences

Assessors may observe:

 

  • clear pathways that direct children and adults around rather than through areas being used by others
  • spaces organised to ensure that routine activities (such as toileting, nappy changing, eating and sleeping) promote positive interactions and opportunities for learning
  • safe shelving and storage areas from which children can access equipment and resources that are age and capability appropriate
  • challenging elements of outdoor and indoor environments that allow for experiences that scaffold children’s learning, development and wellbeing and offer opportunities for appropriate and considered risk taking and risky play
  • children:
    • actively engaged in a variety of rich, meaningful, enquiry-based experiences in both indoor and outdoor environments, with appropriate levels of challenge to support exploration and experimentation
    • initiating their own experiences using equipment and resources that they can access independently
    • exploring relationships with living things and observing, noticing and responding to change
    • being encouraged to use their senses to explore natural and built environments
    • accessing areas with natural features such as plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud and water
  • educators:
    • setting up and adapting the indoor and outdoor environments to:
  • offer both built and natural features and structures
  • meet the range of ages, interests and capabilities of all children
  • facilitate the inclusion of every child and support every child to be able to participate in all daily experiences
  • promote small and large group interactions and meaningful play and leisure experiences
  • stimulate and reflect children’s interests, ideas and curiosities
  • assist children to function autonomously in distinct learning or interest areas
  • encourage a free flow of activity throughout the day
  • facilitate positive interactions between children, educators and families
  • enable small groups of children to work together on their own projects
  • support children to create and lead their own games and experiences
    • planning, implementing, modifying or changing play materials to encourage each child’s participation and to allow them to experience success
    • planning learning environments that include a range of materials and equipment with appropriate levels of challenge where all children are encouraged to explore, experiment and take appropriate risks in their learning according to their current capacities, strengths and interests
    • engaging with children in constructing and adapting their own play settings/environments
    • supporting children to move between environments
    • encouraging the use of natural materials in all learning environments
    • involving children in the arrangement of spaces to increase aesthetic appeal
    • re-organising and re-setting the environment with assistance from children to provide order and predictability for children, attract their interest to the area and stimulate learning
  • a relaxed atmosphere maintained by using positive and effective strategies to modify inappropriate noise levels in the environment

Birth to three

  • comfortable and protected areas both indoors and outdoors where children can:

    birth to three

    • rest, roll, sit, crawl and stand, alone or with others
    • experience sensory activities
    • safely explore their environment with their mouths, hands and bodies, and minimise time spent in high chairs, cots, playpens and strollers
    • be cuddled or held by an adult

School age children

  • built and natural environments that provide access to opportunities for play and leisure activities in which the children and young people experience fun, enjoyment, challenge and success.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how educators:
    • involve children in discussions about the use of space and resources
    • set up the environments to manage the balance of active and quieter spaces for play, and responds to the individual requirements of all children throughout the day
    • adjust the environment to support each child’s participation and provide for their learning, development and wellbeing
  • how resources, materials and equipment are chosen to enhance children’s learning
  • strategies the service has for working collaboratively with family members, specialists, resource agencies and/or schools to support the inclusion of individual children
  • how the indoor and outdoor spaces have been designed to invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection to nature
  • how the service implements strategies to support the development of children’s creativity, engagement and understanding of indoor and outdoor environments
  • for centre-based services, if the service has experienced a change in the age of children being educated or cared for or the nature of education and care being provided, how the service made adjustments to continue to support participation and engagement by children.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documented learning programs that:
    • pay equal attention to planning outdoor and indoor environments to support children’s learning outcomes and extend on child-led learning
    • outline opportunities for children to engage in outdoor and indoor experiences, such as dramatic play, construction, music and exploration
    • incorporate opportunities for children to:
  • be active and wholly engaged for long periods of uninterrupted play
  • spend time in a quiet area away from other children if they wish
  • choose whether they wish to participate in large and small group activities
    • indicate that the outdoor and indoor spaces are re-organised to continuously engage children
  • the statement of philosophy that describes the service’s approach to inclusion
  • documented evidence that indicates the educational leader, nominated supervisors, educators and co-ordinators work collaboratively with family members, specialists and/or resource agencies to:
    • plan for the inclusion of children with disability and children experiencing barriers to participation
    • access adaptive equipment to support children’s requirements
    • facilitate access to support services required while the child is at the service

Family day care

  • evidence that strategies are in place to ensure that children in residences without direct access to outdoor environments—for example, high-rise units—have opportunities to access outdoor environments.

Element 3.2.2: Resources support play-based learning

Resources, materials and equipment allow for multiple uses, are sufficient in number, and enable every child to engage in play-based learning.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 3.2.2

Regulation 105 Furniture, materials and equipment

What Element 3.2.2 aims to achieve

Services should design learning environments with resources that support play-based learning and encourage children and young people to build relationships, explore, solve problems, create and construct (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators can provide additional interest, variety and challenge for children by choosing equipment and materials that can be used in multiple ways, and allowing the environment to be regularly and readily rearranged or adjusted. When children are challenged in play and leisure, they explore new possibilities and develop the confidence to take responsibility for their own learning.

Services should provide sufficient resources, materials and equipment for children to engage with and use for play. Resources and materials need to be accessible to children and young people, and reflect the breadth of ages, interests, curiosities and capabilities of children who are sharing the environment (Framework for School Age Care). These resources encourage children’s knowledge of, and connections with, the built and natural environments. Access to digital resources should be accessed appropriately in safe and healthy ways, in line with service policies on the safe use of digital technologies, developed in partnership with children, young people and families (Framework for School Age Care). Environments and resources should emphasise the significance of the history of place and the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples act as custodians of the land. Educators should seek to visibly and verbally acknowledge connection of language and culture to Country and Traditional Owners and provide opportunities for all children to learn on and care for Country (Framework for School Age Care).

School age care settings provide children and young people with play and leisure activities in which they experience fun, enjoyment, mastery, success and belonging (Framework for School Age Care). Services should consider how they offer appropriate levels of challenge to encourage school age children to explore, experiment and take appropriate risks (Framework for School Age Care), as they learn to regulate themselves and contribute to the social environment (Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 3.2.2 (for all services)

Sufficient resources to support play-based learning

Assessors may observe:

 

  • resources, materials and equipment in the indoor and outdoor environment that children can explore and use freely in their play, which:
    • are sufficient in variety and number to:
  • meet the range of interests, ages, curiosities and capabilities of children
  • avoid overcrowding and ensure that children do not have to wait for long periods to participate or access resources or facilities
  • minimise disputes over their use
  • use in a range of different ways
  • support the participation of all children
    • are organised in ways that ensure appropriate and effective implementation of the program
    • offer a range of challenges and experiences that reflect the breadth of ages, interests and capabilities of children who are sharing the environment
    • are flexible and can be rearranged or adjusted to provide additional interest, variety and challenge
    • are suitable for promoting play and leisure-based learning
    • stimulate children’s curiosity
    • provide many sensory experiences
    • encourage children to explore, discover and experiment
    • are challenging and encourage children to take appropriate and considered risks
  • children:
    • being supported to seek out and accept challenges and try new activities/experiences
    • using a range of equipment and resources to engage in physical experiences that assist them to develop movement, coordination, balance, flexibility and strength
    • using a range of commercial, natural, recycled and homemade materials to support their learning in a range of ways—for example, to:
      • express meaning using visual arts, dance, drama and music
      • explore literacy in a range of ways
      • explore numeracy concepts such as sorting, categorising, ordering and comparing collections of materials
      • represent their thinking and learning
      • experiment with different technologies
      • use their imagination and make up their own games
      • be involved in completing day-to-day tasks, such as preparing and cooking food, caring for living things and being involved in the care of the environment
    • exploring, solving problems, creating, constructing and engaging in critical thinking in the learning environment
    • being supported to handle equipment and manage tools with increasing competence and skill
  • educators:
    • enhancing child-initiated experiences by providing additional resources and, where appropriate, participating in and extending children’s play
    • choosing resources, materials and equipment with children and using them in a way that supports children’s sense of belonging, relationships, creativity and learning
    • providing sufficient time and resources for children to initiate and become actively involved in experiences
    • introducing appropriate tools, technologies and media to enhance children’s learning
    • demonstrating the potential of resources to children and suggesting new and different ways to use them
    • being creative in their use of equipment and materials to stimulate children’s interest and curiosity
    • providing resources to support active learning and open-ended imaginative play
    • structuring the environment so that it is flexible to allow children to move resources and equipment to extend learning opportunities
    • using outdoor environments not only as places for children to release energy and engage in physical activity but also for exploration, problem solving and creative expression.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the strategies used to engage with families and children to ensure their views are considered and incorporated in the selection and organisation of materials, equipment and resources at the service
  • how resources and materials in the educational program reflect children and adults with a range of capabilities as active participants in the community
  • strategies used by educators to accommodate children’s changing interests, capabilities and skill levels
  • how children are given opportunities to be involved in purchasing resources, including choice and use, so that their preferences support group and individual play-based learning
  • how children are given opportunities to learn on and from Country and seek more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connections and relationships with Country.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation and learning programs that demonstrate links between the arrangement and choice of resources, materials and equipment and learning outcomes for children
  • plans for the arrangement of indoor and outdoor spaces to create inviting learning environments and documentation of how children’s ideas have influenced these plans
  • photographs of children using materials and equipment in a variety of ways.

Element 3.2.3: Environmentally responsible

The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

What Element 3.2.3 aims to achieve

Education and care settings are places where children learn and young people about self, others and the world, including environmental responsibility and sustainability. Educators provide opportunities for children and young people to learn about the interconnected dimensions of sustainability, including environmental sustainability, which focuses on caring for our natural world and protecting, preserving and improving the environment (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Educators encourage children and young people to develop appreciation of the natural world, understand our impact on the natural world, and the interdependence between people, animals, plants, lands and waters. (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

Children and young people develop positive attitudes and values by engaging in sustainable practices, watching adults around them model sustainable practices, and working together with educators to show care and appreciation for the natural environment (Hughes, 2007). Educators support children and young people to take an active role in caring for the environment and to think about ways they can contribute to a sustainable future. This includes recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have looked after Country for the past 60,000 years and providing opportunities for educators and children to learn on and from Country. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, their spirituality is strongly connected to Country. It is in their relationships and how they communicate with their ancestors, families, kinship systems and communities, and is in their connection to the land (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

This element aligns sustainable operations within the service and children’s learning about environmental responsibility and sustainability. Environments and resources can emphasise accountability and advocacy for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment on a day to day and long-term basis (Framework for School Age Care). This is particularly relevant for school age care environments as children’s depth of understanding of these concepts develops.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 3.2.3 (for all services)

Supporting environmental responsibility

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • being supported to appreciate and care for natural and constructed environments
    • interacting with vegetation and natural materials in the environment
    • exploring insects and animals in their habitats to develop their understanding of biodiversity
    • participating in environmentally sustainable practices that:
      • support their engagement with and respect for the natural environment
      • increase their awareness of the impact of human activity
      • build a sense of responsibility for caring for the environment
      • are meaningful, relevant to the service context and community, and connect service operations with the educational program and practice
    • being given opportunities to increase their:
      • knowledge of and respect for natural and constructed environments
      • awareness of the interdependence of living things
  • educators:
    • developing environmental awareness and programs as a platform for ongoing environmental education
    • using different ways to incorporate animals and plants into the program to support children’s understanding of ecology and the environment
    • fostering children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, animals, plants, land and waters
    • sharing information and supporting children to access resources about the environment and the impact of human activities on environments
  • spaces that promote the development of life skills, such as growing and preparing food, waste reduction and recycling, and children being actively engaged in these experiences
  • the service’s environmental strategy being implemented.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the development and implementation of strategies to support children to be environmentally responsible and to show respect for the environment
  • how the educational program fosters wonder and knowledge about the natural world
  • strategies used to support every child to engage in quality experiences in the natural environment.
  • how educators create opportunities for all children and young people to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and rich sustainable practices
  • how educators create opportunities for all children and young people to learn on and from Country
  • environments.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation of children’s learning about environmental and sustainability issues
  • policies that promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment and the development of life skills (such as growing and preparing food, waste reduction and recycling)
  • planning documents that support children’s learning through investigation and exploration of the natural environment
  • photographs and displays highlighting children’s understanding and learning of the natural environment, including their contributions.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 3.2: Use

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 3.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.  
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 3.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and the co-ordinator demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concept and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are children actively engaged in child-directed learning experiences that demonstrate environmental awareness and/or responsibility?
  • How do observed practices and discussions demonstrate a whole-of-service approach to the use of space and resources that is inclusive, purposeful, creative, and flexible, and enhances learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for all children?
  • Are all educators:
    • able to explain how the use of the physical environment is organised to be flexible, support safe and inclusive access by all children and promote each child’s meaningful engagement and participation in play-based learning?
    • confidently able to organise and adapt spaces and resources as needed throughout the day, week, and month to ensure a consistently inclusive and flexible play-based learning environment for all children?
    • able to describe how they cater for the different learning capacities and learning styles of all children and allow for reasonable adjustments to assist the meaningful participation of children with disabilities or children experiencing barriers to learning?
    • able to explain how they create culturally safe and responsive learning environments that reflect, respect and affirm the identities and enrich the lives of all children and families?
    • able to describe how they actively promote opportunities for all children to learn on and from Country, including learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rich sustainable practices?
    • able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to caring for the natural environment and fostering environmental awareness and responsibility in children, and aware of how their practice aligns with practice across the service?
  • How does the service’s approach to creating inclusive learning environments, engaging in sustainable practice across all dimensions of sustainability and supporting environmental responsibility reflect the service’s philosophy?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to organising inclusive, play-based learning environments and to supporting sustainable practices and environmental responsibility:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence?
  • Is any change to the service’s approach to organising inclusive, play-based learning environments and to supporting sustainable practices and environmental responsibility understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do all educators regularly reflect on opportunities to:
    • support every child’s meaningful participation and further enhance all children’s learning, development and wellbeing through the creative and flexible use of space, equipment and resources that is responsive to children’s strengths, culture, languages, interests and capabilities?
    • support children’s environmental awareness and responsibility?
  • How does the service team reflect together on opportunities to:
    • further enhance all children’s learning, development and wellbeing through the creative and flexible use of space, equipment and resources that is responsive to children’s strengths, culture, languages, interests and capabilities?
    • strengthen the service’s engagement in environmental sustainability, and work together to implement agreed changes across the service?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s use and organisation of space and resources:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service and welcome, respect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • In what ways does the service’s approach to environmentally sustainable practice and support of environmental responsibility:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • reflect recognition of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and sustainable practices?
    • welcome, respect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How does the service collaborate with family and/or community partners to:
    • foster an inclusive, welcoming, engaging and flexible play-based learning environment?
    • design indoor and outdoor spaces that draw on and reflect the diverse cultures of the broader community, for example engaging with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to design an environment that reflects their culture?
    • engage in sustainable practices within the service and support environmental awareness and responsibility across the service community?
  • How are children engaged in excursions that utilise community environments and support child-directed exploration and discovery?
  • How do educators support families to develop understanding and engage in environmentally responsible and sustainable practices?

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Quality Area 4: Staffing arrangements

Overview

Quality Area 4 of the National Quality Standard focuses on the provision of qualified and experienced educators who build secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships with children and young people, create predictable environments and encourage children’s active and meaningful engagement and participation in the learning program. A collaborative and ethical culture where professional standards guide all aspects of practice is critical to a quality service.

Educators’ professional judgements are central to their active role in facilitating children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Educators draw upon different theories, world views, knowledge and perspectives including developmental, socio-cultural and practice theories, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, to inform their approaches and practices to promote children’s learning, wellbeing and development (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Educators continually seek ways to build their knowledge and skills and develop professional learning communities. Educators evaluate and critically reflect on the effectiveness of their planning and implementation of curriculum for children’s learning, wellbeing and development. Together as a team and with the involvement of children and families, educators establish a robust culture of critical reflection (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

The approved provider, educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators all play a vital role in establishing effective and ethical practices in the service. A sound philosophy guides decision-making, including decisions about the appropriate arrangement of appropriately qualified educators and staff members at the service. This helps to promote continuity of staff, which contributes to children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 4 has two Standards that focus on the organisation and professionalism of educators, staff and management. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • professional and collaborative relationships between management, educators and staff support continuous improvement, leading to improved learning experiences and outcomes for children
  • careful organisation of staff contributes to the continuous support of each child’s learning and development in an effectively supervised environment
  • professional standards set quality benchmarks for educators’ practice and relationships.
Standard/ElementsConceptDescriptor
QA4 Staffing arrangements
4.1Staffing arrangementsStaffing arrangements enhance children's learning and development.
4.1.1Organisation of educatorsThe organisation of educators across the service supports children's learning and development.
4.1.2Continuity of staffEvery effort is made for children to experience continuity of educators at the service.
4.2ProfessionalismManagement, educators and staff are collaborative, respectful and ethical.
4.2.1Professional collaborationManagement, educators and staff work with mutual respect and collaboratively, and challenge and learn from each other, recognising each other’s strengths and skills.
4.2.2Professional standardsProfessional standards guide practice, interactions and relationships.
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 4.1: Staffing arrangements

Staffing arrangements enhance children’s learning and development.

How Standard 4.1 contributes to quality education and care

Having sufficient educators and staff members available at all times when children are present enables the service to deliver quality education and care programs that respond to and promote all children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

Educators are likely to be responsive, purposeful and reflective when staffing arrangements at the service enable them to direct their full attention to their work with children, and when they do not have to attend simultaneously to other tasks. Responsive learning relationships are strengthened as educators and children engage and learn together. The service is encouraged to arrange staff in ways that support positive experiences for all children at the service at all times.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 4.1 (for all services)

Staffing arrangements

 
  • How do our staffing arrangements support each child’s learning and development?
  • How do our staffing arrangements support educators to direct their full attention to their work with children, including getting to know each child?
  • How do our staffing arrangements support consistent practice, including staff members’ and children’s transitions?
  • How does our staffing roster support continuity of care and positive experiences for children on a day-to-day basis?
  • How do we inform children and families when an educator is on leave and who will be working with them instead?
  • How do we facilitate children’s and families’ familiarity with relief staff?
  • How do we support relief staff to learn about and understand the service’s policies, processes?
  • How do our staffing arrangements support educators to develop positive and respectful relationships with families?
  • How do we provide feedback and support to educators so that they continue to learn and feel fulfilled, resulting in continuity of educators over time?
  • How do we engage in reflective practice to support and encourage each other, support ongoing learning and focus on quality improvement?

Family day care

  • Do our service’s procedures support families to access alternative care when their usual educator is unavailable at short notice?
  • What arrangements are in place to ensure that our principal office can support educators and families when children are in care overnight and at weekends?
  • How do we communicate with educators and with families when there is a change of co-ordinator(s) at the service?

Element 4.1.1: Organisation of educators

The organisation of educators across the service supports children’s learning and development.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 4.1.1

Section 51(2) Conditions on service approval (FDC Co-ordinators)

Section 161 Offence to operate education and care service without nominated supervisor

Section 161A Offence for nominated supervisor not to meet prescribed minimum requirements

Section 162 Offence to operate education and care service unless responsible person is present

Section 163 Offence relating to appointment or engagement of family day care co-ordinators

Section 164 Offence relating to assistance to family day care

Section 164A Offence relating to the education and care of children by family day care service

Section 169 Offence relating to staffing arrangements

Section 269 Register of family day care educators, co-ordinators and assistants

Regulation 117A Placing a person in day-to-day charge

Regulation 117B Minimum requirement for a person in day-to-day charge

Regulation 117C Minimum requirement for a nominated supervisor

Regulation 118 Educational leader

Regulation 119 Family day care educator and family day care educator assistant to be at least 18 years old

Regulation 120 Educators who are under 18 to be supervised

Regulation 123 Educators to child ratios – centre-based services

Regulation 123A Family day care co-ordinator to educator ratios – family day care service

Regulation 124 Number of children who can be educated and cared for – family day care educator

Regulation 126 Centre-based services – general educator qualifications

Regulation 126A Illness or absence of a qualified educator who is required to meet the relevant educator to child ratio

Regulation 127 Family day care educator qualifications

Regulation 128 Family day care co-ordinator qualifications

Regulation 130 Requirement for early childhood teacher – centre-based services – fewer than 25 approved places

Regulation 131 Requirement for early childhood teacher – centre-based services – 25 or more approved places but fewer than 25 children

Regulation 132 Requirement for early childhood teacher – centre-based services – 25 to 59 children

Regulation 133 Requirement for early childhood teacher – centre-based services—60 to 80 children

Regulation 134 Requirement for early childhood teacher – centre-based services – more than 80 children

Regulation 135 Early childhood teacher illness or absence

Regulation 136 First aid qualifications

Regulation 143A Minimum requirements for a family day care educator

Regulation 143B Ongoing management of family day care educators

Regulation 144 Family day care educator assistant

Regulation 145 Staff record

Regulation 146 Nominated supervisor

Regulation 147 Staff members

Regulation 148 Educational leader

Regulation 149 Volunteers and students

Regulation 150 Responsible person

Regulation 151 Record of educators working directly with children

Regulation 152 Record of access to early childhood teachers

Regulation 152A Record of replacement of educator

Regulation 152B Record of replacement of early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person

Regulation 153 Register of family day care educators, co-ordinators and assistants

Regulation 154 Record of staff other than family day care educators, family day care co-ordinators and family day care educator assistants

General transitional and saving provisions

Regulation 239 Centre-based service offering a preschool program in a composite class in a school

Regulation 239A Centre-based services in remote and very remote areas – attendance of early childhood teachers

Regulation 240 Qualifications for educators (centre-based service)

Regulation 241 Persons taken to hold an approved early childhood teaching qualification

Regulation 242 Persons taken to be early childhood teachers

Regulation 243 Persons taken to hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification

Regulation 243A Persons taken to hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification for regulation 128 in Queensland

Regulation 244 Persons taken to hold an approved certificate III level education and care qualification

Jurisdiction specific provisions

ACT

Regulation 260 Children over preschool age – minimum number of educators and qualifications required

Regulation 261 General qualifications for educators – children over preschool age – centre-based services

Regulation 262 Required qualifications to be a qualified educator for children over preschool age

Regulation 264 General qualification for educators – Centre-based services

Regulation 265 Required qualifications to be a qualified educator – unexpected absence of qualified educator

Regulation 267 Early childhood teacher – 60 or more children

NSW

Regulations 271 Educator to child ratios – children aged 36 months or more but less than 6 years

Regulation 272 Early childhood teachers – children preschool age or under

Regulation 278 Qualifications for primary contact staff members-saving

Regulation 388 Educator to child ratios (centre-based services)

NT

Regulation 290 General qualification requirements for educators – children over preschool age

Regulation 294 Early childhood teacher – 60 or more children

Qld

Regulation 299 General qualification requirements for educators – children over preschool age

Regulations 299C Educator to child ratios during rest period

Regulations 299D Additional staff members of volunteers

Regulations 299E Qualifications for educators

Regulations 299F Educator to child ratios when educator, early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person on rest pause

Regulations 299G Access to or attendance of early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person on rest pause

Regulations 299H Educator to child ratios when educator, early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person absent for 5 minutes or less

Regulations 299I Access to or attendance of early childhood teacher or suitably qualified person absent for 5 minutes or less

Regulation 300 Educator to child ratios – children aged 15 months to 24 months

Regulation 304 Early childhood teacher – 60 or more children

SA

Regulation 321 General requirements for educators – children over preschool age

Regulation 324 Early childhood teachers – preschools

Regulation 325 Qualifications for family day care educators

Regulation 325A Educator to child ratios during short absence of educators

Regulation 332 Early childhood teacher – 60 or more but fewer than 81 children

Regulation 333 Early childhood teacher – more than 80 children

Regulation 334 Early childhood teachers – Preschools

Regulation 335 Qualifications for family day care educators

Tas

Regulation 342 Educator to child ratio – children preschool age and under who are 36 months of age or over

Regulation 342A Educator to child ratios during short absence of educators

Regulation 343 Qualifications for educators – preschools

Regulation 349 Early childhood teacher in attendance – 60 or more children

Vic

Regulation 356 Qualifications of educators – children over preschool age

Regulation 357 Educator to child ratio – children aged over 24 months but less than 36 months

Regulation 363 Early childhood teacher in attendance – 60 or more children

Regulation 364 Educational qualifications – centre-based services – saving of existing experience and qualification

Regulation 366 Qualifications for family day care educators – saving of existing experience and qualifications

WA

Regulation 369 Educator to child ratio – children over preschool age

Regulation 370 General qualification requirements for educators – children over preschool age

Regulation 372 Educator to child ratio – pre-kindergarten programme or kindergarten programme by a school

Regulation 373 Early childhood teachers – pre-kindergarten programme or kindergarten programme provided by a school

Regulation 379 Educators required to be early childhood teachers

What Element 4.1.1 aims to achieve

The organisation of educators across a service is a key factor in supporting all children to have opportunities to engage in meaningful learning and interactions with educators with whom they are familiar and comfortable. Carefully planned rosters support educators to be available and responsive to children, and support quality experiences and adequate supervision at all times when children are attending the service.

The National Regulations set educator-to-child ratios to ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children while attending the service, including during excursions and incursions. The presence of adequate numbers of qualified and experienced educators has been consistently linked with quality interactions and positive learning experiences for children. To be counted in the required educator-to-child ratio, educators must be directly involved in the education and care of children and, where required, hold or be actively working towards an approved qualification. In addition to meeting the required educator-to-child ratio, adequate supervision of children must be maintained at all times.

The National Regulations also set qualification requirements for co-ordinators in family day care services. Qualified and experienced co-ordinators train, support and monitor educators in their education and care role with children.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 4.1.1 (for all services)

Organisation of educators

Assessors may observe:

 

  • how the organisation of educators throughout the day supports all children’s learning, development and wellbeing and ensures that educator-to-child ratios are maintained, including during administration and/or programming time

Centre-based services

  • that the numbers and ratio of educators rostered at the beginning and end of the day are:
    • facilitating effective communication with families at drop off and pick up times
    • supporting adequate supervision of children
    • offering children meaningful opportunities to engage with educators while rooms are set up or packed away.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how staffing arrangements are managed to promote the participation of all children
  • how the service communicates who is working each day to families and children
  • how the service decides if it needs extra staff to support a child with additional requirements and how extra staff are orientated into the team to enable all educators to work together and build their skills and knowledge of inclusive practice to support all children, including identifying and implementing changes to practice to support children with disability
  • how the service provides non-contact time to enable educators to undertake tasks such as:

Centre-based services

  •  
    • programming
    • meeting with families
    • meeting with inclusion support professionals
    • networking with relevant organisations, such as other education and care services and local schools
  • the service’s approach to rostering educators across the day and week and what is considered when this is arranged

School age children

  • the service’s approach to rostering educators to support familiarity and continuity for children and families

School age children

  • the service’s approach to placing children with individual educators and what is considered during this process
  • how the allocation of co-ordinators to individual educators supports all children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • the processes in place to assist families to access alternative care when their usual educator is unavailable.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • rosters for nominated supervisors, co-ordinators, educators and other staff

School age children

  • procedures and supporting documentation to assist relief educators to learn about the service’s processes, routines, families and children

Centre-based services

  • staff rosters that demonstrate the service is meeting staffing requirements including that a first-aid-qualified staff member is on duty at all times

Family day care

  • staff records that demonstrate educators, co-ordinators and family day care educator assistants hold first aid qualifications
  • records of co-ordinator qualifications.

Element 4.1.2: Continuity of staff

Every effort is made for children to experience continuity of educators at the service.

What Element 4.1.2 aims to achieve

Continuity of staff on a day-to-day basis and over time assists educators to build secure relationships with children and plays a significant role in promoting their learning and development. Educators who work closely with children each time they attend the service, understand each child’s interests, strengths, capabilities, curiosities and areas where support may be needed. They are able to provide continuity of experiences to extend children’s learning.

A service that values and proactively supports continuity of staff is better placed to attract and retain educators, which in turn benefits children and families. Consistent and committed educators support quality standards and continuity of care for children. It is important for the service to attract appropriately qualified and experienced staff, and retain staff members who can best meet the needs of children and their families.

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 4.1.2 (for all services)

Continuity of educators

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children demonstrating their trust and comfort with educators by happily responding to them, having conversations and initiating interactions with them, and seeking their company
  • educators, including relief educators, addressing children and families by name and demonstrating in these interactions that they are familiar with how the service operates.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the processes the service has in place to recruit and retain staff
  • how the service helps to build staff cohesion and pride in the service
  • how the service celebrates educators’ commitment to the service over time
  • the educational leader’s, educators’ and co-ordinators’ understanding of the importance of educator continuity for children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • how the service uses exit data to contribute to the service’s continuous improvement
  • how the nominated supervisor and co-ordinators set individual performance and learning goals for educators and other staff
  • how performance development processes provide educators with targeted feedback that supports continuity
  • any incentives to enhance the retention/continuity of educators

Centre-based services

  • when choice is an option during recruitment, how the service determines the best fit with the existing team when appointing new staff
  • what strategies the service uses to ensure a regular pool of relief educators is available to provide continuity for children
  • how the service considers educators’ experience, qualifications and how long they have been at the service when placing educators in particular rooms and age groups.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • rosters and staffing arrangements that reflect the importance of educator continuity on a day-to-day basis
  • exit data and documentation that provides information about the reasons for educators leaving the service.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 4.1: Staffing arrangements

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 4.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 4.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • Is, at all times, purposeful consideration given to organisation of educators to ensure familiarity and continuity for children and a high quality learning and care environment?
  • How do all educators and co-ordinators:
    • explain how the organisation and continuity of educators enhances children’s wellbeing, learning and development?
    • demonstrate awareness of how decisions are made about the organisation of educators across the service?
    • understand and implement effective processes to support organisation and continuity of educators to enable the establishment and maintenance of secure, reciprocal and respectful relationships with children?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to organisation and continuity of educators, including relief educators, consistently align with the service’s philosophy, policies and procedures?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to organisation and continuity of educators:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by the qualifications, strengths, priorities and professional development goals of educators?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence?
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to organisation and continuity of educators understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How are the service team:
    • reflecting together on opportunities to further enhance all children’s wellbeing, learning and development through possible changes to the organisation of educators or improvement in staff continuity?
    • working together to implement agreed changes across the service where necessary?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the organisation and continuity of educators:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service and, in particular, family input on ways to support familiarity and continuity of their child’s learning, development and wellbeing at the service?
  • How are opportunities for collaboration with family and community partners built into the service’s approach to organisation and continuity of educators?
  • How does the service’s approach to organisation and continuity of educators support all children to participate fully in the service program at all times?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 4.2: Professionalism

Management, educators and staff are collaborative, respectful and ethical.

How Standard 4.2 contributes to quality education and care

Professionalism is demonstrated when management, educators and other staff develop and maintain relationships with each other that are based on the principles of mutual respect, equity and fairness. Team collaboration that is based on understanding the expectations and attitudes of team members, and build on the strength of each other’s knowledge, help nurture constructive professional relationships. These relationships reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding and conflict. For more information see Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016), a resource that guides the behaviour of early childhood professionals.

When adults communicate effectively and respectfully with each other they promote a positive and calm atmosphere at the service, supporting children to feel safe and secure and contributing to the development of positive and reciprocal relationships between children and educators. Unresolved and poorly managed conflict between adults in the service affects morale and impacts on the provision of quality education and care to children.

Collaborative leadership and teamwork are founded on professional and respectful conversations about practice. Educators respect and engage with different ways of thinking and working as a team to critically reflect on practice. When educators communicate effectively and share ideas about practice, children’s learning, development and wellbeing is optimised (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 

Services support staff to act cohesively and ethically as a team and provide an environment that is conducive to children’s learning, development and wellbeing. This may be reflected in the service’s statement of philosophy (see Element 7.1.1).

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 4.2 (for all services)

 
  • How do we ensure that the service’s statement of philosophy reflects the different views, beliefs and values of the team?
  • How do we acknowledge the personal strengths, professional experiences and diversity that our colleagues bring to our work?
  • How do we support staff to recognise, respect and protect the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of all children, their families, and staff?
  • How do we provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators to provide feedback and reflections on best practice?
  • How do we support staff to take responsibility for creating culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander staff, children and families?
  • How do we develop and maintain a culture of collaborative leadership and teamwork which includes peer mentoring and shared learning, where all team members contribute to and facilitate each other’s professional learning and growth? 
  • What beliefs about relationships between management, educators, co-ordinators and other staff are reflected in our statement of philosophy?
  • How do we promote professionalism, confidentiality and ethical conduct?
  • What strategies have we developed to ensure information is appropriately shared between management and staff?
  • How do we use critical reflection to challenge our beliefs?
  • How do we promote the personal and collective strengths of our team?
  • How do we share the successes of our team with families?
  • What opportunities do we provide for educators, co-ordinators and other staff to have conversations and discussions to further develop their skills, or to improve practice and relationships? How do we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and considered?
  • What makes our service a positive place to work?
  • What strategies do we use to find out how staff members feel about/within our team?
  • How effective are the processes we have implemented to resolve any ethical issues that may arise?
  • How regularly do we review Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016) and our own service’s code of conduct and service philosophy to ensure that our practices and policies align with current recognised approaches and the approved learning framework/s?

Element 4.2.1: Professional collaboration

Management, educators and staff work with mutual respect and collaboratively, and challenge and learn from each other, recognising each other’s strengths and skills.

What Element 4.2.1 aims to achieve

Professional collaboration involves working together cooperatively towards common goals. Collaboration is achieved through open communication, information sharing, joint planning and the development of common understandings and objectives (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

In a collaborative environment, all staff are encouraged to respect and value the diverse contributions and viewpoints of their colleagues. Staff also share resources, provide constructive feedback, and work together respectfully and professionally to solve problems. Interactions between management, educators and staff are guided by Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016), the service’s code of conduct and the service philosophy. By collaborating effectively, service staff model successful working relationships for children.

A lively culture of professional inquiry is established when the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators are all contributing to continuous improvement at the service. A robust culture of critical reflection occurs when educators as a team, as well as children and young people and families, are involved in the ongoing cycle of review where current practices are discussed, debated and evaluated, and new ideas are generated. Educators can critically reflect on aspects such as program quality, environment design, equity and children’s development and wellbeing (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). By drawing on each person’s diverse perspectives, skills, experiences and background, these discussions enhance the team and provide opportunities for educators to revise their practice and implement strategies for improvement. These discussions also provide educators with an opportunity to develop a shared understanding of how children learn and their role in supporting this, contributing to more effective and responsive programs for children.

Updating and maintaining educators’ knowledge is a joint responsibility of management and educators. This can be achieved through providing a range of professional development strategies that challenge and extend current thinking, including through educational leaders modelling collaborative leadership and teamwork. 

Assessment guide for meeting Element 4.2.1 (for all services)

Developing a culture of professional collaboration, recognition and continuous improvement

Assessors may observe:

 

  • positive working relationships within the service and an atmosphere of openness
  • new educators, co-ordinators and staff members being supported by other team members
  • educators, co-ordinators and staff members using strategies that assist casual and relief educators to feel a sense of belonging to the team and service
  • information about current recognised approaches and research on education and care is shared among management, educators and staff members
  • educators sharing their knowledge and discussing and reflecting on the needs of particular children and families
  • educators, co-ordinators and staff members:
    • sharing tasks and responsibilities
    • offering assistance to each other
    • responding promptly to support other team members in difficult situations
  • the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators:
    • working collaboratively to affirm and challenge their practice through supportive relationships with their colleagues
    • discussing and adopting inclusive practices and strategies that best support each child
    • demonstrating a commitment to learn more, regardless of their experience and current knowledge and skills.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the service’s approach to using particular strengths, talents and interests of individual educators
  • how educators acknowledge each other’s strengths and diverse knowledge and skills
  • how the educational leader, nominated supervisor, educators and co-ordinators openly reflect on all aspects of the service as a team
  • whether the service has regular team meetings, or similar opportunities, that include a cycle of inquiry that collaboratively affirms, challenges, supports and provides opportunities for educators and staff members to learn from each other, share new information and further develop the team’s skills
  • how educators and staff members are encouraged to support and mentor each other
  • how the approved provider, educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators demonstrate that they are open to change and new possibilities
  • how the service ensures that all interactions, including grievance procedures, convey mutual respect, equity and recognition of each other’s strengths and skills

Centre-based services

  • the strategies the service has in place to facilitate communication and reflection between educators.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence recorded in staff meeting minutes or reflective journals that demonstrates that the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators are engaging with their colleagues to critically reflect on practice, explore new possibilities and record outcomes that have resulted in improved practice so that children and families benefit
  • documented examples of projects or teamwork that recognises and builds on the diverse skills, knowledge and strengths of the team.

Element 4.2.2: Professional standards

Professional standards guide practice, interactions and relationships.

What Element 4.2.2 aims to achieve

The approved provider and service staff should use professional standards and ethical principles to guide professional conduct in decision-making and practice. The approved provider must provide clear guidance to all staff about their responsibilities in relation to one another and to the families and children using the service.

The approved provider should also ensure that all staff know and understand the requirements of the National Quality Framework including the National Law, National Regulations, the National Quality Standard, the approved learning frameworks, Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016), as well as the services’ philosophy, policies and procedures.

Educators are required to understand their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, particularly in regard to making reasonable adjustments to ensure the meaningful participation of children with disability in the service’s program. The educational leader, coordinators and educators should work together with children and young people and their families to make reasonable adjustments. 

It is important that educators and service staff are aware that their attitudes, values and beliefs impact their work. Educators can benefit from working with each other, the educational leader and their supervisor or co-ordinator to identify where biases and assumptions may have informed their values, critically reflect on any biases in an ongoing way, and minimise the impact of bias in their practice and relationships with children, families, colleagues and the local community. 

When all educators understand what is guiding their practice and why, educators can make improvements to their practice and enhance outcomes for all children.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 4.2.2 (for all services)

Professional conduct

Assessors may observe:

 

  • service staff demonstrating:
    • care, empathy and respect for children, colleagues and families in their everyday practice
    • professional conduct in interactions and relationships with children, colleagues, families and members of the community
  • the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators taking responsibility for:
    • working in ways that meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework
    • implementing the approved learning frameworks
    • identifying opportunities to adapt practice to ensure meaningful participation of children with disability.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the ways in which service staff access copies of:
    • the National Quality Standard, National Regulations and Guide to the National Quality Framework
    • the approved learning frameworks and associated guides to the frameworks
    • Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016)
    • the service’s statement of philosophy
    • the service’s policies and procedures
    • the service’s staff handbook and code of conduct
    • other relevant professional publications
  • how the service uses these documents to maintain quality standards and professional conduct
  • how up-to-date information is communicated to educators (for example, service/employer information and changes or updates that impact on practice and regulatory compliance)
  • strategies used to bring Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016) to the attention of all staff and how is it used to guide professional conversations about day-to-day practice at the service
  • strategies used to bring awareness to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 for all staff and how it informs practice to ensure that children with disability can participate meaningfully in the program
  • how the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators use professional standards and knowledge of current recognised approaches to guide their everyday work and to meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework
  • how educators recognise and minimise the impact of personal biases on their practice and relationships with children, families, colleagues and the local community
  • inclusion and what it means to educators, children and families
  • where information can be found to assist staff to resolve differences.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s code of conduct and Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics (2016) are accessible to educators and staff members, and are displayed and made available to families
  • a handbook or resources for new and existing service staff that includes:
    • the statement of philosophy
    • position descriptions
    • professional standards and/or code of conduct.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 4.2: Professionalism

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 4.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 4.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concept and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • In what ways are all interactions between educators and others in the service community respectful, culturally responsive and promoting a positive atmosphere within the service?
  • How do all educators show a willingness to share information or ask for assistance from others and acknowledge the strengths and skills of others?
  • How are all members of the service team consistently demonstrating collaborative leadership and teamwork, identifying and challenging bias, and supporting, affirming and learning from each other?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to professional collaboration and standards:
    • consistently align with the approach described in the service’s chosen code of conduct and code of ethics?
    • consistently align with the service’s philosophy, policies, procedures and the approved learning framework/s?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to professional collaboration and standards:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • enabling and promoting regular opportunities for all members of the service team, with special consideration to support newly inducted educators, to work collaboratively and to share and learn from each other’s existing and developing strengths and skills?
    • creating genuine and ongoing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to provide feedback and share ideas and reflections to inform culturally safe and responsive practice, interactions and relationships?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, research evidence and/or the service’s chosen code of conduct and code of ethics?
  • How does the service team critically reflect together:
    • on the role and application of professional ethics and standards across the service?
    • on ethical issues that arise in the service?
    • to consistently identify and implement opportunities to strengthen ethical practice?
    • to identify and question assumptions and unacknowledged biases about children’s learning and expectations for learning, to inform professional practice?
  • How do educators reflect collaboratively on pedagogical knowledge and curriculum delivery?
  • How do educator’s discussions and notes demonstrate:
    • self-awareness of the ethical and professional standards underpinning their own practice?
    • ongoing reflection on opportunities for improvement?
  • How are decision-making processes informed by the approved learning framework/s and professional standards, including the service’s chosen code of conduct and code of ethics?
  • Are changes to the application of professional standards within the service, including the chosen code of conduct and code of ethics, clearly understood by all?

Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the approach to professional collaboration and standards:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do all members of the service team recognise diversity as a strength and work together to promote a culture of inclusiveness and sense of belonging for all children, families and the community, including cultivating a deep respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge?
  • How are all members of the service team consistently identifying and implementing culturally sensitive ways to communicate, support and engage with families?
  • How is decision-making and problem-solving in regard to ethical issues that emerge within the service environment informed by the voices of families and the community?
  • How do educators build relationships with families and members of the community that include the exchange of ideas and best practice?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Quality Area 5: Relationships with children

Overview

Quality Area 5 of the National Quality Standard focuses on educators developing responsive, warm, trusting and respectful relationships with children and young people that promote their wellbeing, self-esteem, sense of security and belonging. Relationships of this kind encourage children to explore the environment and engage in play and learning.

All children need a sense of connection with others to support the development of their identity and social and emotional competence. From birth, children begin to explore how the social world works. Exploring and learning to socialise appropriately with others, and to manage feelings, behaviours and responsibilities is a complex process. When educational leaders, co-ordinators and educators take a positive, strengths-based approach to guiding children’s behaviour, they ultimately empower children to regulate and manage their behaviour and emotions and develop the skills needed to interact and negotiate positively, respectfully and effectively with others. 

Relationships with peers take on increasing importance for older children. Supportive relationships with educators enables older children to develop confidence in their ability to express themselves, work through differences, engage in new experiences and take calculated risks.

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 5 has two Standards that focus on relationships between educators and children, and between children and their peers. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because supportive and respectful relationships enable children to:

  • develop their confidence and a strong and positive sense of identity
  • develop effective communication skills and the ability to express themselves effectively
  • participate in collaborative learning and develop and build meaningful relationships and friendships.
  • regulate and manage their behaviour and emotions and learn to negotiate complex social situations and relationships.
Standard/ElementsConceptDescriptor
5.2.1.1Collaborative learningChildren are supported to collaborate, learn from and help each other.
5.2.2Self-regulationEach child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.
QA5 Relationships with children
5.1Relationships between educators and childrenRespectful and equitable relationships are maintained with each child.
5.1.1Positive educator to child interactionsResponsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.
5.1.2Dignity and rights of the childThe dignity and rights of every child are maintained.
5.2Relationships between childrenEach child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships.
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 5.1: Relationships between educators and children

Respectful and equitable relationships are maintained with each child.

How Standard 5.1 contributes to quality education and care

When children and young people experience nurturing and respectful reciprocal relationships with educators, they develop an understanding of themselves as competent, capable and respected. Consistent emotional support contributes to children developing a strong sense of wellbeing and belonging. Relationships are the foundation for the construction of identity, and help shape children’s thinking about who they are, how they belong and what influences them. Relational pedagogy underpins interactions between educators and children and their families and is key to children building a positive sense of self-worth (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Constructive everyday interactions and shared learning opportunities form the basis of equitable, respectful and reciprocal relationships between educators and children. Educators who are actively engaged in children’s learning and share decision-making with them, use their everyday interactions during play, rituals, routines and ongoing projects to stimulate children’s thinking and to enrich and extend their learning, development and wellbeing.

These relationships provide a solid foundation from which to guide and support children as they develop the self-confidence and skills to manage their emotions and behaviour, make decisions and relate positively and effectively to others.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 5.1 (for all services)

Positive relationships

 
  • How do we build, safe, secure and respectful relationships with all children, taking into account all children’s social, cultural and linguistic diversity (including learning styles, abilities, disabilities, gender, sexual identity, family circumstances and geographic location) (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)?
  • How do we ensure all children feel that they belong and are valued and included in the service, can participate in all learning experiences, and that their contributions are appreciated and recognised?
  • How do we learn about individual children’s non-verbal cues and communication strategies, and the specific communication requirements of each child, including children with additional needs and disabilities? How do we cater for and help each child to reach their potential?
  • How do we discuss with children what is acceptable behaviour between each other and between adults and children?
  • How do we support each child to identify where they can seek help?
  • How do we promote children’s social and emotional competence?
  • How do we identify and overcome potential barriers to inclusion at the service, including making reasonable adjustments, so that each child’s meaningful participation is supported?
  • How do we respectfully engage in children’s play? What roles do we play?
  • How do we deliberately, purposefully and thoughtfully interact with children to support their learning?
  • What strategies and techniques do we use to extend and build on children’s comments and conversations?
  • How do we respond empathetically to the distress, fears and frustrations some children experience, including when they have to adapt to unfamiliar routines, new people and new places?
  • How do we promote the safety and wellbeing of children who are experiencing or have experienced adversity and trauma, including adopting trauma-informed practices (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)?
  • How do we respond sensitively and appropriately to all children’s efforts to initiate interactions and conversations?

Family day care

  • How do we respond in a fair and consistent way to our own children and to the children who attend the service?

Dignity and rights of every child

 
  • How do we consider the rights of every child when planning, implementing and evaluating the program?
  • How do we encourage all children to understand their rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of others?
  • How do our service’s policies and procedures support each child’s dignity and rights?
  • How do we identify and minimise the impact of our own biases on our practices and relationships with children and families? How are children’s rights considered in these reflections?

Element 5.1.1: Positive educator to child interactions

Responsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 5.1.1

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Regulation 155 Interactions with children

What Element 5.1.1 aims to achieve

Positive interactions between educators and children involve educators viewing each child as capable and competent, and as active participants and decision-makers, with a right to a voice and able to contribute to decisions that affect them. This enables educators to focus their education and care practices on children’s strengths and inclusion in the group environment.

Educators who are responsive to children’s thoughts and feelings are supporting them to develop a strong sense of wellbeing. By interacting positively, respectfully and meaningfully with children, educators help children to feel accepted and to develop trusting relationships and a strong sense of connection and identity. Children who are supported to explore and understand their cultural, social, gender and linguistic identities also experience a sense of belonging that fosters self-esteem. Self-esteem contributes to the development of identity and is critical to children’s capacity to understand their own strengths, capabilities and interests. When children feel safe, secure and supported, they grow in confidence to explore and learn (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Positive and responsive one-on-one interactions, especially with children under three years old, are important to children’s wellbeing and their future development. Secure relationships with educators encourage children under three years to thrive, and provides them with a secure base for exploration and learning. Secure relationships with educators also provide children, when necessary, with a safe haven and source of comfort. As children grow and develop they continue to rely on secure, trusting and respectful relationships with the adults in their lives.

Mutually supportive relationships are important for school age children. Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships are key to establishing a positive and trusting community in school age care settings, and enable children to develop their independence, leadership and social skills, and a strong sense of identity (Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 5.1.1 (for all services)

Building trusting relationships

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators:
    • sitting and engaging in relaxed and unhurried two way conversations with children, particularly at mealtimes
    • assisting new children to settle into the program by talking with them or their families about their interests, curiosities and funds of knowledge
    • responding openly, positively and respectfully to children’s comments, questions, concerns and requests for assistance
    • engaging with children in conversations throughout the day or session, talking about what is happening around them and what they are learning and thinking about
    • engaging in sustained conversations with each child about their individual interests
    • showing enthusiasm and respect when interacting with all children and their families
    • comforting children who cry or show other signs of distress, fear or discomfort
    • responding positively to the varying abilities and disabilities and the individual strengths, interests and confidence of all children, and facilitating their involvement in the service
    • acknowledging children’s efforts and achievements and supporting children to experience success
    • supporting children to persist and persevere in self-chosen tasks, including when faced with challenges and when first attempts are not successful (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
    • adjusting and tailoring their interactions to best support the differing ages, capabilities, strengths and interests of children attending the service
    • demonstrating that they know each child well and have developed a unique, reciprocal relationship with each child
    • affirming and actively supporting the maintenance of each child’s home language and culture where interactions with the family supports this approach
    • respectfully participating in children’s play and using children’s cues and signals to guide their level and type of involvement
    • modelling reasoning, predicting, reflective processes and appropriate language
    • collaborating with children about routines, rituals, transitions and experiences and providing opportunities for them to make decisions and choices
  • using appropriate techniques, such as sign language, visual supports and other resources and tools, to support communication with all children

Birth to three

  • talking with children about what is about to happen during routines and transitions
  • encouraging ‘turn taking’ communication by responding and adding to interactions initiated by children
  • responding to children when they practice and play with language, by repeating the words, sounds and gestures that children use
  • describing objects and events as the children participate in play

School age children

  • respectfully stepping into and out of children’s and young people's play, to support their decision-making
  • setting up learning environments which support children and young people to learn independently
  • providing opportunities for children and young people to develop relationships by teaching others

Family day care

  • co-ordinators:
    • supporting educators’ relationships with children during home visits and playgroups by sharing their expertise and professional experience
    • developing respectful relationships with children
 
  • children:
    • demonstrating a sense of belonging, security and comfort in the environment
    • communicating their need for comfort and assistance
    • initiating conversations with educators about their experiences inside and outside the service
    • confidently expressing ideas and feelings and sharing humour and laughter with educators
    • asking educators for assistance when they engage in new experiences, take on new challenges and try to complete tasks independently

Birth to three

  • being supported to build secure attachments with one educator initially and then other educators in the environment
  • using a favourite toy, photograph or comfort item brought from home to help them settle and feel secure in the service
 
  • an atmosphere that is relaxed and positive where children are engaged in experiences that interest them
  • an environment that reflects the lives of the children, their families and the local community
  • practices, routines and rituals that observe children and their family and community contexts
  • group sizes and staffing practices that:
    • support the establishment of secure and respectful relationships between educators and children
    • support children settling into the service each day
    • meet each child’s requirements throughout the day
    • facilitate effective daily communication with families

Birth to three

  • predictable and respectful personal-care routines that are enjoyable experiences for children and that enrich their learning
  • many opportunities for children to experience relaxed physical contact and one-to-one interactions with familiar educators.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • ways in which nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators learn more about the histories, cultures, languages, traditions, religions, spiritual beliefs, child-rearing practices and lifestyle choices of families using the service
  • strategies used to respond to each child’s preferences and assist all children to develop a sense of security, belonging and confidence in the service
  • how educators build and maintain secure and predictable relationships to support children affected by trauma or who have experienced adversity (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework)
  • how plans for the inclusion of children with disability and/or additional needs are shared and communicated with educators and staff members
  • the ways in which children’s cues and signals are used to guide the level and type of adult involvement in children’s play
  • how children are encouraged to share their stories, ideas, contributions and achievements with others
  • how routines, rituals, transitions and everyday experiences are guided by children and used to support their learning, based on children’s preferences and the dynamics of the day
  • the ways in which educators use information gained from their observations and interactions with children to build on and extend children’s thinking and learning
  • how educators use their interactions with children to support the maintenance of home languages and learning English as an additional language, following communication with families

Birth to three

  • how staffing, group arrangements and the environment support children to feel secure and relaxed at the service

Centre-based services

  • how rosters are planned to promote continuity of, and enhance, relationships with children and families.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • examples of information gathered from:
    • families to support their child during the settling-in process
    • other professionals or support agencies that work with children, including children who require additional support and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • the service’s approach to equity, social justice and inclusion, documented in the statement of philosophy
  • plans for the inclusion of children who require additional support, including adapting practice where there are barriers to participation
  • evidence that educators and co-ordinators draw on the diverse knowledge, experiences and views of their colleagues when reviewing their teaching strategies and experiences planned for children, to ensure that all children have opportunities to achieve learning outcomes
  • evidence of planned and spontaneous experiences, rituals and routines where educators support the engagement of individual children and groups of children in experiences of their own choosing
  • documentation of children’s learning, development and wellbeing that shows evidence that educators’ interactions with children are used to support children’s developing ideas, skills and relationships.

Element 5.1.2: Dignity and rights of the child

The dignity and rights of every child are maintained.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 5.1.2

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Regulation 155 Interactions with children

What Element 5.1.2 aims to achieve

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each child and young person, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability. The Convention states that all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages. The Convention also recognises children’s right to engage in play and, in school age care, recreational activities, their right to rest and leisure, and their right to be active participants in all matters affecting their lives (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Australia has committed to protecting and ensuring children’s rights. This includes Article 19 of the convention, which states that children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 5.1.2 (for all services)

Dignity and rights of children

Assessors may observe:

 

  • spaces, resources and routines arranged to minimise times when children are likely to experience stress or frustration and educators being mindful of children’s differing capacities to wait
  • children:
    • supported to make choices and decisions and to experience the consequences of these where there is no risk of harm to themselves or another person
    • being acknowledged when they make positive choices in managing their emotions and behaviour

School age children

  • having independence and increased autonomy in recognition of their growing maturity and ability to take responsibility for their own behaviour
 
  • educators:
    • pre-empting potential conflicts or challenging behaviours by monitoring children’s play and supporting interactions
    • using positive language, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice when redirecting or discussing children’s behaviour with them
    • responding promptly to children’s disruptive behaviour by acknowledging their feelings, spending time with them and suggesting alternative ways of responding
    • being patient, gentle, calm and reassuring even when children strongly express distress, frustration or anger
    • talking to children about the importance of empathy, treating others equally and celebrating differences
    • encouraging each child’s sense of identity
    • supporting children to treat each other with dignity and respect in their interactions
    • using diverse resources to explore and celebrate different cultures, heritage, backgrounds, traditions
    • modelling and encouraging children to identify and challenge discrimination when they observe inappropriate behaviour, or hear inappropriate comments
    • respectfully considering information received from families, other professionals, resource agencies and schools, and responding appropriately to support the rights of children
    • encouraging children to reflect on and consider the impact of their behaviour
    • guiding all children’s behaviour in ways that:
    • are focused on supporting children to develop skills to regulate and manage their emotions
    • preserve and promote children’s self-esteem and confidence

Birth to three

  • speaking in comforting tones and holding babies to soothe them when they are crying
  • are aware of and available to provide comfort for babies and children in distress
  • responding positively to children’s exploratory behaviour

School age children

  • taking action if bullying occurs, according to the service’s policies and procedures such as anti-bullying, interactions with children or behaviour guidance policies

Family day care

  • responding to their own children’s behaviour and the behaviour of children using the service in a fair and consistent way.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service celebrates diversity, including:
    • supporting each child’s sense of identity
    • guiding children’s understanding of cultural diversity
    • how the service communicates its culturally diverse practices with families
  • how the service maintains an environment of cultural safety and inclusion, and supports educators to be culturally responsive
  • how educators assist children to recognise unfair play and offer constructive ways to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community
  • how the service maintains an environment of cultural inclusion and supports educators’ cultural competence
  • how educators reflect on the equity and rights of each child, in particular how their own practice and behaviour may affect individual children
  • how educators reflect on, identify and minimise the impact of their own biases on their practices and relationships with children and families

Birth to three

  • how the service manages situations such as when children bite, including communication with families

School age children

  • whether services located in schools have regard to the school's approach to guiding behaviour, and how the service and the school cooperate to maintain the rights of children and young people in a recreation and leisure program.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • documentation that shows that diverse views, including family backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs and knowledge are acknowledged and considered in planning and programming for each child
  • the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child displayed
  • documented reflections on children’s experiences at the service including whether all children’s rights are being upheld.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 5.1: Relationships with children

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 5.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 5.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and the co-ordinator demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How does each educator’s practice reflect a deep commitment to building and maintaining consistent, trusting, respectful and equitable relationships with each child?
  • At all times, how are interactions between educators and children across the service:
    • supporting each child to feel secure, confident, and included, regardless of their circumstances, strengths, gender, abilities or diverse ways of doing and being?
    • maintaining each child’s dignity and rights?
  • How do all educators explain how their relationships with children are guided by an understanding of and commitment to:
    • building trusting, respectful relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included?
    • respecting the dignity and worth of each child?
    • protecting and ensuring all children’s rights and agency?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to relationships between educators and children:
    • consistently align with the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?
    • consistently align with the service’s philosophy, policies and procedures?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to relationships between educators and children:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, theories and/or research evidence?
  • To what extent are any changes to the service’s approach to relationships between educators and children understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How are all educators:
    • systematically reflecting on their interactions with each child across the service to consider opportunities to further enhance children’s lifelong learning and sense of belonging and connectedness within the service and the child’s world?
    • demonstrating self-awareness and purposeful in the consideration of the theoretical perspectives and understandings that inform their pedagogy and the practice across the service?
  • How do the service team reflect together to:
    • consider the social justice and equity implications of educators’ approaches to relationships with children to ensure interactions support the dignity, rights, cultures and best interests of all children, including children who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds?
    • identify and challenge stereotypes, biases and inequities in promoting and maintaining a culture of inclusiveness and sense of belonging and connectedness for each child?
    • determine how to build and maintain safe, secure and predictable relationships with children living through trauma and adversity?
    • engage in robust debate and discussion in which personal, professional and organisational values that influence relationships between educators and children are identified and discussed?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s approach to building and maintaining respectful and equitable relationships with each child:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
    • contribute to a culture of inclusiveness and sense of belonging and connectedness for all children and families at the service?
    • strengthen meaningful relationships with families and the community?
    • seek, value and consider family input to inform ‘Interactions with Children’ policy and practice?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 5.2: Relationships between children

Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships.

How Standard 5.2 contributes to quality education and care

When educators create environments in which children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and respectful relationships with people and the environment, children and young people respond accordingly (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Positive relationships provide children with the confidence and agency to explore and learn about their world. As their relationships become more complex and far-reaching over time, children’s interactions with others also help them to extend their knowledge, thinking and ability to apply what they already know in new and unfamiliar contexts. Developing effective relationships with others is a key part of children’s social development and these relationships also provide a base for children’s learning.

An important aspect of children’s ‘belonging, being and becoming’ involves them learning how their behaviours and actions affect themselves and others. By learning how to make sensible choices about their behaviour, children develop the skills to regulate their emotions and actions independently and understand the benefits of positive behaviour. When children have opportunities to contribute to decisions and participate collaboratively with others in everyday settings, they learn to live interdependently and make informed choices (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). The service should ensure that all children are supported to develop the skills, learning dispositions and understandings they need to interact with others, with care, empathy and respect.

Educators and co-ordinators can assist by developing:

  • positive and respectful strategies for guiding children’s behaviour, and helping children to respectfully negotiate their requests with others
  • strategies that demonstrate respect and understanding of individual children when they strive to recognise and understand why each child may behave in a certain way, or why behaviour may occur in particular circumstances or at specific times of the day.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 5.2 (for all services)

Supporting sensitive and responsive relationships

 
  • How do we support children to form and maintain positive and respectful relationships with others?
  • How is a culture of respect, equity, inclusion and fairness encouraged in the service? How is this communicated to educators, children and families?
  • How do we model how to respond appropriately to unfairness, and how to challenge stereotypes and discrimination in respectful ways?
  • How do we model positive and respectful relationships for children?
  • How do we support children’s development and understanding of respectful relationships?
  • How do we ensure that the physical environment, program, routines, rituals, and transitions are conducive to the development and maintenance of children’s interpersonal relationships?
  • How do we promote a sense of community within the service?

Family day care

  • How do we foster positive relationships between members of the educator’s family and the children being educated and cared for?

Collaborative learning

 
  • How do we plan the program, routines, rituals and transitions to ensure adequate time for children to engage in uninterrupted play experiences and projects of their own choosing, with a variety of peers and adults?
  • How do educators plan and create opportunities for children to cooperate and work collaboratively with others to progress their thinking and learning?
  • How do we support children to appreciate and respect diverse views and perspectives, and assist them to explore diverse ways of knowing, being and doing in their learning?

Guiding children’s behaviour

 
  • How do we support individual children to engage with others in ways that are appropriate for each child’s development?
  • How do we ensure that our policies regarding interactions with children and behaviour guidance reflect current information about child development and current recognised approaches and/or research evidence in guiding young children’s behaviour?
  • How do we reflect on our own experiences, beliefs and attitudes that may influence the way in which we guide children’s behaviour?
  • How do we support children to recognise their own emotions and those of others?
  • What opportunities do children have to contribute to decision-making about rules, expectations, rights and responsibilities and consequences in relation to their own and others’ behaviour?
  • How do we manage situations where we experience challenges in guiding the behaviour of a child or a group of children?
  • How do we work with families, other professionals and support agencies to ensure that behaviour guidance strategies maintain the dignity and rights of each child to be included in the environment and program at all times? How are different expectations managed?

School age children

  • How do we meet older children’s needs for independence and greater freedom?
  • How do we ensure a consistent approach to guiding children’s behaviour between schools and the service as well as meeting the rights of children and young people in a recreation and leisure program?

Family day care

  • How do we support educators when they are feeling stressed by, or are having difficulty coping with, a child’s behaviour?

Element 5.2.1: Collaborative learning

Children are supported to collaborate, learn from and help each other.

What Element 5.2.1 aims to achieve

Services provide a range of opportunities for children to learn how to work with others collaboratively, respectfully and effectively, including through play experiences. Educators can support children to learn about and experience cooperation by modelling cooperative behaviour themselves and acknowledging cooperation when it occurs. As children develop their social skills, educators provide time and space for children to engage in collaborative experiences. These enjoyable experiences help children to learn about their responsibilities to others and to appreciate their connectedness and interdependence as learners. They learn to balance their own needs and wants with those of other children. By nurturing respectful and reciprocal relationships among children, educators support children to value collaboration and teamwork.

School age care settings are places for children to learn more about themselves, others and the world as they increasingly cooperate and work collaboratively with others. By encouraging children’s active involvement in learning experiences, children learn to explore and solve problems and develop greater capacity for independence and collaboration. Older children can challenge and extend their own thinking, and that of others, and create new knowledge in collaborative interactions and negotiations with peers. By exchanging ideas and collaborating with others, older children can also learn life and social skills, such as conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 5.2.1 (for all services)

Supporting cooperation and collaboration

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • participating in play and showing awareness and interest in others
    • developing friendships as part of a small group
    • engaging in enjoyable interactions with their peers, contributing to shared play experiences, and responding positively to ideas and suggestions from others
    • engaged in experiences that support them in establishing and maintaining relationships with children of various ages, genders, cultures and capabilities
    • engaged in ongoing collaborative projects they have initiated that involve research, planning, problem-solving and shared decision-making
    • engaged in activities that may benefit others (such as helping re-set experiences or setting the table for a meal)
    • showing kindness and compassion towards their peers
    • negotiating roles and relationships in play and leisure experiences
    • spending time with their peers

Family day care

  • experiencing friendly and genuine interactions with members of the educator’s family
 
  • educators:
    • supporting children’s progress through different stages of play, to help them gain confidence in interacting with their peers
    • modelling collaborative behaviour through their interactions with children and colleagues, to help children to initiate interactions and join in play and social experiences with their peers
    • respectfully and thoughtfully engaging in children’s group play and projects
    • supporting children to understand or communicate with each other
    • planning experiences that encourage children to work together to achieve success
    • allocating time for relaxed, unhurried experiences that enable children to collaborate and direct their own learning together
    • creating opportunities for peer scaffolding in small and large group play
    • asking follow-up questions to extend children’s learning in group situations
    • promoting a sense of community in the service
    • providing opportunities and resources for children to assume leadership roles and direct play experiences with their peers
    • acknowledging older children’s complex relationships and sensitively intervening in ways that promote social inclusion

School age children

  • implementing mentoring programs within the service to connect older children with younger children
  • providing grouping opportunities related to children’s interests

Family day care

  • supporting, in a fair and consistent way, collaboration and teamwork between the children at the service and their own children.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how staffing and grouping arrangements support positive relationships between children
  • how educators support and promote children’s interpersonal relationships
  • how educators support inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds and capabilities in collaborative play, projects and experiences with others
  • how educators learn about children’s shared interests and how they use this information to plan further learning opportunities
  • how educators assist children to explore diverse perspectives on issues of inclusion and exclusion and fair and unfair behaviour (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
  • how educators help children understand the concept of consent by modelling or demonstrating asking for and providing consent and provide opportunities for children to practice (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)

School age children

  • opportunities provided for children and young people to take on leadership roles within the service
  • how educators broaden children’s and young people's perspectives and encourage an appreciation of diverse views and ideas within the group
  • how educators differentiate the curriculum to engage children and young people in collaborative learning experiences when they differ in knowledge and skills

Family day care

  • how educators provide opportunities for children to experience a variety of group settings
  • how the service addresses and communicates the role that educators’ family members may play in the service.

Assessors may sight:

 
  • the service’s policy on interactions with children and behaviour guidance
  • evidence that:
    • the program and routines include regular opportunities for children to engage in social play and collaborative experiences
    • educators identify children’s shared interests and use this information to plan further collaborative learning opportunities

School age children

  • the program includes collaborative and challenging learning experiences that are responsive to children’s and young people's interests

Family day care

  • guidelines about the role of educators’ families in the provision of family day care
  • documented plans for children to spend time in group experiences with children of similar ages and other educators.

Element 5.2.2: Self-regulation

Each child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 5.2.2

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Regulation 155 Interactions with children

Regulation 156 Relationships in groups

What Element 5.2.2 aims to achieve

Self-regulation becomes increasingly important as children move through childhood. They become more mindful of the way others interact with them, and at the same time develop understandings of how their actions affect the way others feel and behave. Educators work with young children to promote and model positive ways to relate to others. This includes role modelling and supporting children to convey and construct messages with purpose and confidence, for example when expressing needs, resolving conflict or responding to the behaviour of others.

Educators actively support the inclusion of all children in play, assist children to recognise when play is unfair, and offer constructive ways to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community.

See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 5.2.2 (for all services)

Relating positively with others

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • engaging in cooperative, helping behaviour
    • exploring different identities, roles and points of view in pretend play
    • challenging unfair acts and discrimination on behalf of themselves and others (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care)
    • expressing their feelings and responses to others’ behaviours confidently and constructively
    • being supported to communicate effectively to resolve disagreements with others
  • educators and co-ordinators:
    • implementing planned and spontaneous discussions about emotions, feelings and issues of inclusion and exclusion, fair and unfair behaviour, bias and prejudice
    • modelling respectful behaviour and providing supportive language to enable children to vocalise their concerns
    • encouraging children to listen to other children’s ideas and points of view, consider alternative behaviours and solve problems together
    • talking with children about the consequences of their actions
    • planning and implementing strategies to support individual children’s behaviour
    • discussing with and supporting children to identify their feelings, and providing a safe place for them to explore and build strategies to calm the body and mind
    • listening empathetically to children when they express their emotions, acknowledging their feelings and reassuring children that it is normal to experience positive and negative emotions at times
    • supporting children to negotiate their rights in relation to the rights of others and intervening sensitively when children experience difficulty in resolving a disagreement

Family day care

  • educators and members of their family modelling positive, socially acceptable behaviour and language.

Assessors may discuss how:

 

  • educators:
    • learn about and support individual children’s relationships with other children
    • help children to understand that others may not always wish to play with them
    • use their knowledge of individual children’s personalities and friendship preferences to support children to manage their emotions and behaviour and develop an understanding of the feelings and needs of others
    • encourage positive behaviour in children, and support them to understand the expectations for their behaviour and the consequences of inappropriate behaviours
    • support children when they are trying to negotiate and resolve conflicts with others
    • support children to negotiate and share ownership of responsible and respectful behaviours as a group
    • work with families and other professionals to appropriately support each child’s emotional and social learning
  • service staff work with each child’s family and, where applicable, their school, to ensure an inclusive and consistent approach is used to support all children to regulate their behaviour and communicate effectively
  • the nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators manage situations in which:
    • families have different views and expectations compared to those of the service about guiding children’s behaviour
    • a child may benefit from more support in managing their behaviour
  • the educational leader supports educators to enhance their skills and knowledge to positively guide children’s behaviour
  • the service positively influences educators’ views and beliefs around children’s behaviour, with a focus on all children being supported when they are distressed

Family day care

  • the nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators guide children's and young people's behaviour in ways that have regard to those followed in the school/s children attend, while maintaining the rights of children and young people in a recreation and leisure program
  • children and young people are supported to develop skills to identify and report inappropriate behaviours such as bullying (including cyber bullying) and social exclusion.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s policies and procedures on interactions with children and behaviour guidance
  • evidence of:
    • planned and spontaneous experiences that support children to develop and practise the skills required to participate in group discussions and negotiate shared decision-making with their peers
    • collaboration with schools, other professionals or support agencies that work with children who have diagnosed behavioural or social difficulties
  • examples of information gathered from families about their children’s social skills and relationship preferences
  • documented communication with families that shows their views, ideas and preferences have been considered when planning appropriate strategies to support their child’s positive inclusion in the program
  • the service’s policy on interactions with children that outlines a clear process for guiding children’s behaviour, based on current recognised approaches and with a focus on children’s rights
  • individual behaviour guidance plans for children, including evidence of consultation with their families and if appropriate, input and suggestions from other professionals and support agencies.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 5.2: Relationships between children

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 5.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.  
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 5.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are all educators:
    • confidently and effectively facilitating cooperative and collaborative learning opportunities, in appropriate group sizes, to ensure that every child is consistently supported to collaborate, learn from and help others?
    • demonstrating a consistent approach to behaviour guidance to ensure that each child is supported at all times to understand and regulate their behaviour and emotions, responding appropriately to the behaviour of others, and communicating effectively to resolve conflict?
  • How do all educators explain how their support of children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships is guided by an understanding of and commitment to:
    • creating supportive and culturally safe environments that enable all children to collaborate, learn from and help each other?
    • supporting each child to understand and regulate their behaviour and emotions, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts?
  • How does the observed and discussed approach to supporting children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships:
    • consistently align with the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?
    • consistently align with the service’s philosophy, policies, and procedures, including their behaviour guidance strategy?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to supporting children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • enabling the identification and implementation of opportunities to strengthen practice?
    • informed by current recognised guidance, theories and/or research evidence?
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to supporting children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do educators demonstrate self-awareness of the theoretical perspectives and understandings that inform their pedagogy and the practice across the service, and show that they are committed to continuous improvement?
  • How does the service team critically reflect together to:
    • consider the social justice and equity implications of educators’ approaches to facilitating active and collaborative learning opportunities and behaviour guidance (for example, how to support children to take culturally responsive action in the face of unfairness and discrimination)?
    • engage in robust debate and discussion in which personal, professional and organisational values that support children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships are identified and discussed?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does the service’s approach to supporting children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
    • contribute to a culture of inclusiveness and sense of belonging and connectedness at the service?
    • support all children to recognise and challenge stereotypes and biases, and develop a deep understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity of the service and the broader community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge?
  • How are all educators:
    • drawing on their knowledge of each family’s strengths and priorities, including behaviour guidance approaches in the home environment, to support children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships?
    • tailoring their approaches to supporting children to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships in response to input from families and the community?

Quality Area 6: Collaborative partnerships with families and communities

Overview

Quality Area 6 focuses on supportive, respectful relationships with families which are fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children. Community partnerships that are based on active communication, consultation and collaboration also contribute to children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing.

Families are the primary influence in their children’s lives; they often have strong beliefs and values regarding the education and care of their children. When families and services collaborate and build respectful relationships, children have the opportunity to develop a positive sense of self and experience respectful relationships. As well, the child, the family and the service do not exist in isolation; they are part of a much wider community. Children benefit from services engaging with local communities because these partnerships strengthen children’s interest and skills in being active contributors to their community. Collaborative partnerships are achieved when the service’s philosophy has a strong commitment to valuing diversity, inclusive practice, creating culturally safe and secure environments and connecting to the community. To help services be prepared to engage all children in the educational program, services may also develop specific plans (for example a Strategic Inclusion Plan) to ensure the service is ‘inclusion ready’.

Partnerships involve educators, families, other professionals, community members and teachers in schools working together for the best interests of children. Educators create opportunities for open and authentic partnerships with all families, communities and organisations, including with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations and those from culturally diverse backgrounds (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the longest surviving Indigenous culture in the world and the custodians of this land. Through genuine and sustainable partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, as well as culturally responsive practices, educators can ensure the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is respectfully and truthfully reflected throughout the service and its program, for the benefit of all children. The contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – past and present – should be acknowledged and valued in children’s learning and throughout the service’s program (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Related National Law

A number of the guiding principles that underpin the National Law support services’ engagement with Quality Area 6. These principles are:

  • that the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity underlie the National Law
  • that Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued
  • that the role of parents and families is respected and supported
    (see section 3(3) of the National Law).

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 6 has two Standards that support building collaborative partnerships with families and communities to enhance children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing as they transition through the early years into school and/or attend outside school hours care services. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • authentic family engagement encourages the active participation of each child and their family in service decisions and the educational program
  • reflecting on inclusive practice helps the service to identify and remove potential barriers to an inclusive environment and support the wellbeing of all children and families
  • community engagement helps the service to build relationships between each child, the families of the service and the community they reside in, and encourages each child to develop their identity within the context of their local community
  • as well as enriching programs, practices and policies, it provides an opportunity to support children to respect and value diversity.
Standard/ElementsConceptDescriptor
QA6 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
6.1Supportive relationships with familiesRespectful relationships with families are developed and maintained and families are supported in their parenting role.
6.1.1Engagement with the serviceFamilies are supported from enrolment to be involved in the service and contribute to service decisions.
6.1.2Parent views are respectedThe expertise, culture, values and beliefs of families are respected and families share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing.
6.1.3Families are supportedCurrent information is available to families about the service and relevant community services and resources to support parenting and family wellbeing.
6.2Collaborative partnershipsCollaborative partnerships enhance children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing.
6.2.1TransitionsContinuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by sharing information and clarifying responsibilities.
6.2.2Access and participationEffective partnerships support children's access, inclusion and participation in the program.
6.2.3Community engagementThe service builds relationships and engages with its community.
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 6.1: Supportive relationships with families

Respectful relationships with families are developed and maintained and families are supported in their parenting role.

How Standard 6.1 contributes to quality education and care

Standard 6.1 acknowledges that the family is the most powerful influence on each child’s life and that learning outcomes are most likely to be achieved when educators work in partnership with families to ensure the experiences planned for children are meaningful (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). This Standard also recognises that each family’s wellbeing and capacity to nurture and support their children, is influenced by the community in which they live and the material resources and social supports available to them.

Educators recognise the diversity of families and that families are children and young people’s first and most influential teachers. They create a welcoming and culturally safe and responsive environment where all children and young people and their families are respected regardless of background, ethnicity, languages spoken, religion, family makeup or gender (Early Years Learning Framework: Framework for School Age Care). 

Children have diverse understandings of ‘family’ and unique relationships with those who feature prominently in their lives. Services that reflect on what the concept of family means to each child can nurture the important relationships that exist between children and their families. For example, services need to recognise the importance of extended families, kinship systems, carers and guardians in children’s lives.

Effective, respectful communication between educators and families builds shared understanding of each other’s expectations and attitudes, and builds on the strength of each other’s knowledge. When educators respect the diversity of families and communities, and the aspirations they hold for their children and young people, they can nurture and foster children and young people’s wellbeing, learning, and development (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Sometimes family aspirations and expectations can be in conflict with service philosophy and practice. Open, respectful and non-judgmental communication between educators and families builds a shared understanding of children’s learning and participation.

Collaborative partnerships with families contribute to building a strong, inclusive community within the service. Respectful, honest and open two-way communication with educators assists families to feel connected with their children’s experience in education and care and helps them develop trust and confidence in the service. The service also supports families in their parenting role by becoming a reliable source of practical information about resources and services within the local community and by helping families to understand what constitutes quality practice.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 6.1 (for all services)

Respectful and inclusive relationships with families

 
  • How do we help all families to feel comfortable, welcome and valued at the service?
  • Does our concept of family reflect the diversity of family structures in the service and the wider community?
  • How could we improve our approach to support relationships with all families?
  • How do we promote a common understanding of inclusion?
  • How do we promote the benefits and value of inclusion for all children and families?
  • How can we engage in genuine partnership with families to challenge and address stereotypical or biased views of family compositions?
  • How do we listen to families and include their perspectives in the educational program?
  • What role do families play in the service? How can we recognise their contributions?
  • How do we share decision-making with families? What decisions can we make together with families?
  • How does the information that families provide to the service contribute to operational decision-making?
  • How does the service establish and maintain meaningful partnerships with all families?
  • How does the service respect the diversity of families and the aspirations they hold for their children?
  • How can the service be more accessible to families?
  • How do we communicate our philosophy and educational choices with families?
  • What strategies are in place for information sharing between families and the service during orientation, settling in and onwards?
  • What techniques or strategies do we use to communicate with families who have specific or diverse communication preferences?
  • How can we find out if our communication strategies are reaching all families and if they would prefer other methods?

Supporting families in their parenting role

 
  • How do we encourage families to contribute to their child’s experiences in ways that are meaningful for them?
  • How do we learn about children’s families and others who are important in their lives?
  • How do we respond when families make requests or express concerns?
  • How do we find out and share information about the community resources that are relevant to our service and to the children in the service and their families?
  • How do we support families to access community services and resources? How do we find out what kinds of support would be beneficial to families?
  • How do we support and reassure families whose children are using an education and care service for the first time?
  • How do we seek information that will assist children to manage separation from their primary caregiver without anxiety?

Element 6.1.1: Engagement with the service

Families are supported from enrolment to be involved in the service and contribute to service decisions.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 6.1.1

Regulation 157 Access for parents

What Element 6.1.1 aims to achieve

Families’ first major engagement with the service occurs during the enrolment process. The enrolment process presents an opportunity for services to share information about its operations, philosophy and governance with families. Services can also encourage families to express their preferences about how the orientation of their child into the service will occur. This helps families to feel supported from the beginning and to understand that the service values their input about what is best for their child.

When families are given the opportunity to provide information about their children that will assist educators to get to know them and help them settle into the program, families feel that their suggestions are clearly valued and that they are regarded as partners in their child’s experience at the service. This partnership between the service and the family strengthens when educators seek further information from families while assessing children’s progress and planning their individual goals.

Services encourage families to become involved in ways that suit their current commitments, availability and skills. For example, families can contribute to service processes, such as reviewing the service philosophy and self-assessments, revising policies and procedures, and identifying goals for the Quality Improvement Plan.

When services seek and encourage families’ meaningful involvement in the service, families are included as co-contributors to decisions and are able to influence service programs, policies and planning processes. Services may use a range of strategies to cater to the diversity of family preferences on information sharing and engagement.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.1.1 (for all services)

Enrolment and settling-in process

Assessors may observe:

 

  • prospective families being:
    • invited and encouraged to visit and become familiar with the service before their child starts
    • encouraged to talk with service staff about the values and expectations they hold in relation to their child’s time at the service before, during and after the enrolment process
    • encouraged to share information about other child-related services accessed by the family
  • families being encouraged to:
    • stay with their child for as long as they choose during the settling-in period and on an ongoing basis
    • contact the service, and in particular their child’s educator/s during the day if they wish
  • educators assisting families to develop and maintain a routine for saying goodbye to their child
  • each child being offered comfort and reassurance in a way that is suited to the child during separation from their family
  • educators sharing honest information with families about how their child is settling into the service

Family day care

  • a principal office that is well signposted, and accessible and welcoming to families and children

School age children

  • services acknowledging and respecting children’s prior learning from school.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service identifies the individual education and care requirements of each child and their family
  • the provisions made to support families during the enrolment and orientation process
  • how the settling-in process is tailored to meet the needs of individual children and families
  • how information is gathered from families to support continuity of care between home and the service

School age children

  • how currently enrolled children and young people are involved in the orientation of new children and their families
  • how links and communication with schools can be established and maintained

Family day care

  • how co-ordinators:
    • determine the best placement for a new child and how families are involved in the selection of an educator best able to support the child’s wellbeing, learning and development
    • collaborate with educators and families to settle new children into the service
    • work with educators to make decisions about the placements of children from diverse cultural backgrounds and/or children requiring additional support
  • the educator’s approach to interviewing prospective families and settling their children into the service.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s enrolment and orientation procedures and documentation
  • evidence that families seeking a place at the service are provided with easy-to-read information about how the service operates and what it can provide (including information about inclusion and learning)

Family day care

  • documented information provided:
    • to new families about the role of the principal office, including how co-ordinators:
      • monitor each child’s placement
      • provide ongoing support for educators, families and children
      • assist families in finding an alternative placement when the child’s educator is unavailable
      • assist families to access service policies and procedures
    • by the educator to new families about themselves and their family, and their philosophy, expectations, routines and experiences offered to children.

Family involvement and contribution to service decisions

Assessors may observe:

 

  • a culture of open, respectful communication, characterised by friendly conversations between families, their child’s educator and other members of the service
  • educators and families sharing information about children’s progress, relationships, interests, strengths and experiences while participating in the service and within their family
  • the service:
    • creating a culturally safe and secure environment that welcomes all families
    • communicating respectfully and sensitively with all families
    • recognising and valuing diversity when engaging with families
    • responding to families’ questions, concerns and requests in a prompt and courteous way
    • implementing a range of strategies to share information and engage families in decision-making processes.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • processes in place to communicate with families in ways that are convenient for them
  • opportunities provided for families to:
    • talk with the approved provider, educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators about their participation in the service and any issues or concerns
    • provide regular feedback and input about all aspects of the service
  • how families, including extended family members, are able to contribute to the operation of the service and be involved in an advisory, consultative or decision-making role
  • how families are encouraged to contribute to the development and review of the service’s programs, philosophy, policies and procedures
  • how the service involves families and uses their suggestions during self-assessment, planning for quality improvement and development of the Quality Improvement Plan (see Element 7.1.2)

Family day care

  • how the principal office collaborates with and seeks contributions from families about service decisions
  • how educators and co-ordinators maintain two-way communication with families about children’s placements and their progress
  • how co-ordinators:
    • work with educators to facilitate family involvement
    • support the involvement of families in the service
    • support and involve families who have difficulty accessing the principal office due to their geographical location and/or lack of transport.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence that:
    • the service has strategies in place to communicate with families with varying literacy skills, or where English is not a first language
    • the service provides resources that are available to families in a range of languages
    • families are able to share their understanding of their child’s strengths, interests, abilities and needs
    • families have easy access to the service’s policies and procedures
    • families, including extended family members, are invited and supported to participate in the program and events at the service
    • families are invited to participate and become actively involved in decision-making at the service, and are asked for feedback on service decisions
    • families have opportunities to contribute to the development and review of the service’s programs, statement of philosophy, policies and Quality Improvement Plan
  • information available to families about the range of opportunities they have to participate in the service

School age children

  • evidence of regular communication between co-ordinators and families.

Element 6.1.2: Parent views are respected

The expertise, culture, values and beliefs of families are respected and families share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing.

What Element 6.1.2 aims to achieve

Educators recognise that families are children’s first and most influential teachers, and that the views of parents should be respected (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). Children are born belonging to a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage and ancestral knowledge, but also by the experiences, values and beliefs of individual families and communities (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

When educators communicate with families to find out about their child’s evolving preferences, experiences and routines, and respect the expertise, cultures, languages, values, beliefs and child-rearing practices of families, they are able to:

  • better support each child’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • develop a tailored educational program that builds on each child’s background, strengths and promotes their development
  • support families' diverse parenting practices and approaches (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

In a service environment where families are respected and share in decision- making, families and educators are supported to value each other’s knowledge and roles, and communicate and share information safely and respectfully. Ethical partnerships between educators and families are formed when information is exchanged responsibly, and educators take safety precautions to ensure children and young people’s right to privacy and protection, particularly with the sharing of information through media and digital technologies. Genuine partnership relationships which include shared decision-making with families enable educators to learn about other ways of knowing, being, doing and thinking, and support consistency between children’s experiences at home and at the service. Genuine partnerships positively enhance children’s learning, development, wellbeing and inclusion (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.1.2 (for all services)

Respecting families and sharing decision-making

Assessors may observe:

 

  • information being exchanged between families and educators at arrival and departure times
  • educators and families discussing children’s individual requirements and play preferences sensitively, respectfully and confidentially
  • educators demonstrating a non-judgmental understanding of each child, and each child’s family and community context
  • educators sharing with families:
    • some of the interactions they have had with children
    • children’s successes and achievements
  • families:
    • being informed promptly and sensitively of any incidents affecting their child
    • talking about the values and expectations they hold in relation to their child’s learning, development and wellbeing
    • sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise as well as aspects of their family life and culture
    • contributing to the documentation of their child’s learning and goal-setting.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the strategies used by the service to facilitate shared decision-making with families and to respect families’ requests
  • how the service supports consistency between each child’s home and the service but still ensures best practice and upholds the rights of each child
  • opportunities provided for families to:
    • contribute to curriculum decision-making, including the assessment, planning and evaluation process and the documentation of children’s learning
    • provide feedback about the experiences planned for their child
    • have private discussions with the educational leader, nominated supervisor, co-ordinators and educators.

Assessors may sight evidence that:

 

  • information from the family about each child’s background, experiences, preferences and home routines is updated, recorded in the child’s documentation and used to support curriculum decision-making
  • families are given opportunities to:
    • provide feedback about their child’s experiences
    • make suggestions about service routines, transitions and activities
    • contribute to curriculum decision-making and the documentation of children’s learning
  • families’ knowledge of their children is incorporated into plans for children’s experiences and learning.

Element 6.1.3: Families are supported

Current information is available to families about the service and relevant community services and resources to support parenting and family wellbeing.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 6.1.3

Section 175 Offence relating to requirement to keep enrolment and other documents

What Element 6.1.3 aims to achieve

Services use a variety of methods to support families and keep them informed of the details about their child’s learning, development and wellbeing, as well as the operational aspects of the service. This includes informing families about the service’s ongoing self-assessment in relation to the National Quality Standard, quality improvements being achieved, as well as their participation in, and outcome of, the assessment and rating process.

Educators and co-ordinators are able to support families in their parenting role by being readily available for informal discussions with them at mutually convenient times. Further support is offered by referring families to current information on parenting and family issues displayed in the service, as well as referring them to recognised parenting and child development websites.

Providing easily accessible and reliable information about support networks and local community services helps families to make connections and use resources that support parenting. Improving the wellbeing of families is an important contributing factor in improving children’s overall wellbeing. School age care educators facilitate communication between families and the schools their children attend.

See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.1.3 (for all services)

Providing information about the service and other community services

Assessors may observe:

 

  • educators and families sharing information about:
    • the service’s operations
    • parenting roles and relevant support services and resources
    • community services
  • educators assisting families to identify, locate, contact and/or access local community services.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how information is available to families about the service’s operations
  • how families are kept informed about the service’s quality improvement against the National Quality Standard
  • the processes used by the service to maintain current contact details for local support services
  • how families are sensitively supported and encouraged to access local community services and resources that may be relevant to them

Family day care

  • how co-ordinators:
    • keep families informed about the operation of the family day care service
    • advise families about proposed policy changes, encourage input and inform them of any changes
    • support educators’ knowledge of community resources and services that families could be referred to
    • provide guidance and support to educators in discussing sensitive issues with families.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • newsletters, communication books or other methods of communication with families
  • information about the service’s philosophy, operation, policies and procedures being available:
    • in areas of the service regularly accessed by families
    • in service documentation provided to them
    • on noticeboards, charts or posters in areas regularly used by families and/or through appropriate media
  • information about community services and resources available in:
    • areas of the service regularly used by families but where they can be accessed privately
    • service documentation such as the family handbook
  • easy-to-read information about the service in the languages used at the service and in the local community
  • evidence that policy changes are explained in detail and communicated to families prior to implementation.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 6.1: Supportive relationships with families

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 6.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 6.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How are educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • engaging collaboratively and respectfully with families from enrolment and orientation to learn about their expertise, culture, values and beliefs and priorities for their child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • consistently supporting families to participate in the service, make meaningful contributions to service decisions, and share in decision-making about their child’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • regularly providing families with comprehensive, current and accessible information about the service, relevant community services, and resourcing to support parenting and family wellbeing?
    • recognising the leading role of families in their children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
    • recognising the connections between children, families and communities, and the importance of reciprocal relationships and partnerships for learning? 
  • Across the service, how does the observed and discussed approach to building a culturally safe environment and respectful and supportive relationships with families:
    • demonstrate a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s?
    • align with the educational program, the service’s statement of philosophy, and the enrolment and orientation process?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to supporting relationships with families:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence on supporting relationships with families?
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to supportive relationships with families understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • intentionally consider alternate ways of engaging with families and supporting their participation at the service, and make changes where opportunities to further enhance children’s and families’ outcomes are identified?
    • explain how ongoing engagement with families influences the design and delivery of the educational program?
    • discuss how the approach to engaging with families and supporting their participation at the service aligns with practice theory, the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s and the service’s philosophy, policies and procedures?
    • indicate awareness of how families’ perceptions of their role influences how they participate in the service?
    • consider and discuss social justice and equity implications of their approach to engaging with and supporting each family’s participation in the service, including self awareness of their own biases and how these may impact on building respectful relationships with families?
  • As a team, how do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader engage in robust debate and discussion about the service’s approach to engaging with families and supporting their participation at the service? Are personal, professional and organisational values that influence practice identified, discussed and challenged?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How do relationships with families:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • actively support families to build relationships with other families and with relevant community services to strengthen child, parenting and family outcomes?
    • consistently tailor their approaches to communicating with and engaging with each family in recognition of individual families’ circumstances and ways of connection, and seek out families’ views on their preferred means of communication and participation from enrolment?
    • draw on their knowledge of each family to provide thoughtful and tailored opportunities for each family to meaningfully participate in the service (for example building a sense of belonging and a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families)?
    • explore opportunities to build trust and establish a culturally safe environment that supports families to contribute to the educational program in ways that celebrate and share their strengths, beliefs and culture with children, families and the service team?
    • build and maintain community partnerships that support and promote parenting and family wellbeing and proactively and respectfully engage with families to support their parenting and family wellbeing circumstances and priorities?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 6.2: Collaborative partnerships

Collaborative partnerships enhance children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing.

How Standard 6.2 contributes to quality education and care

Standard 6.2 recognises the connections between children, families, the service and communities and the importance of reciprocal relationships and partnerships in enhancing all children’s inclusion, learning, development and wellbeing (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

When working with families, the service understands the importance of seeing families in the context of their participation in the local community and wider society. Services can also establish and maintain an active presence in the local community, seek to strengthen community links and use community resources to support families. This supports the inclusion of all children in their community and broadens children’s understanding of the world in which they live and of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture within the context of their own community. Educators work to build trusting relationships with families, Elders and communities so that histories, stories and languages, as well as the local knowledge of how the Traditional Owners care for and sustain the land, are shared with all children (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Open communication and collaboration between the service, families, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and community members, and other professionals within the community can be mutually beneficial. These partnerships:

  • build the relationships between each child, their families and the service so that each child’s capacity to fully participate in the program is supported
  • assist children to become aware of the similarities, differences and connections between people within the community
  • can provide everyone with a holistic understanding of each child, which contributes positively to every child’s inclusion, learning, development and wellbeing
  • create opportunities to develop a shared understanding about inclusion
  • provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to see themselves, their identities and cultures reflected in their environment, and build the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives for all children (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).  
  • give families an opportunity to provide information about their child’s interests, strengths and abilities, as well as provide feedback that assists educators to develop programs that are focused on supporting the learning and development of every child
  • build the capacity of organisations involved in supporting children and families in the local community
  • are more likely to result in information sharing and collaborative problem-solving
  • assist in building an environment that supports inclusion and celebrates diversity
  • are built on understanding children’s and families’ right to privacy and confidentiality (see Element 7.1.2).

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 6.2 (for all services)

Building collaborative partnerships

 
  • How do we share information to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing with other services with which the child and family are connected?
  • How do we share our knowledge and expertise about children’s learning and inclusion with other professionals who are working with children and families enrolled in the service?
  • How do we support each child’s transition from and to other education and care environments?
  • How do we support each child’s successful transition to formal schooling?
  • In what ways do we work with schools and other community organisations to support children and families? How effective are these strategies and how can we improve them?
  • How do we work with schools (or any other service that provides education or care to children) to develop our policies and procedures for the safe arrival of children who travel to and from the service?
  • How do our policies and procedures include the delivery of children to, and the collection of children from, schools (or other education and care services) and our service?
  • How do we work with schools (or other education or early childhood services) to undertake risk assessments for the safe arrival of children who travel to and from the service?
  • How do we communicate with other educators and school-based staff to ensure a common understanding of who holds the duty of care for children when they travel between schools (or other education or early childhood services) and our service?
  • How do we access support for children’s specific individual requirements and rights?
  • What local resources and networks exist that might connect children and families with the local community?
  • How is information and data (for example the Australian Early Development Census) used to build an understanding of the local community?
  • What inclusion support services are available to provide tailored advice for our service?
  • What is happening in our local community that is relevant to our work with children and families? How can we best be involved?
  • How do we build and ensure we have genuine and sustainable partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations? 
  • How do we engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to seek understanding of and assistance in embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge truthfully and respectfully? 
  • How are we assisting children and their families to develop a sense of belonging to their local community?
  • How are we supporting children to see themselves as connected and belonging to groups and communities as well as understanding their reciprocal rights and responsibilities as active and informed members of those groups and communities? 

Element 6.2.1: Transitions

Continuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by sharing information and clarifying responsibilities.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 6.2.1

Section 175 Offence relating to requirement to keep enrolment and other documents

Regulation 102AAB Safe arrival of children policies and procedures

Regulation 102AAC Risk assessment for the purposes of safe arrival of children policies and procedures

What Element 6.2.1 aims to achieve

Transitions can occur every day between routines, play spaces, or settings, as well as transitions between home, education and care settings, and school. Transitions in early childhood education settings occur:

  • from home to the education and care setting
  • between rooms and groups in a setting
  • between settings
  • between education and care settings and school
  • between routines and experiences
  • from one educator to another
  • from indoor to outdoor play spaces
  • to and from mealtimes and sleep or rest times (Early Years Learning Framework).

Transitions offer opportunities and challenges for children as different spaces and settings have different purposes, expectations and practices. Working collaboratively with families, other educators, and other professional services, educators support children to actively prepare for transitions between settings and experiences by:

  • helping children and young people to understand the traditions, routines and practices of different settings, and building resilience to feel comfortable with the process of change
  • sharing information about each child’s knowledge, skills, learning, strengths and interests to support educators in a new setting or group to build on these foundations
  • building on children’s funds of knowledge to help them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Policies and procedures

Approved providers must ensure that each service has a policy and procedures in place for the safe arrival of children who travel to or from the education and care services. These must set out the procedures to ensure the safe arrival of children who travel between the service and any other education or early childhood service. An education or early childhood service is:

  • a school
  • an education and care service
  • a children's service, or
  • any other service which provides education and care to children.

When preparing these policies and procedures, the service must consult their staff, parents and (if applicable) children at the service.

Policies and procedures should clearly specify who holds the duty of care for children during these periods of travel. Services should ensure this information is clearly communicated to and understood by families, all educators and school-based staff. The supervision of children during their travel to and from the service is important given the heightened risk to the safety and wellbeing of children during these times. 

The policy and procedures must also include a risk assessment, which is to be conducted at least once every 12 months and as soon as practicable after becoming aware of any circumstance that may affect the safe arrival of children travelling between the service and any other education or early childhood service. 

The purpose of the risk assessment is to identify and assess any risks that a child’s travel between an education and care service and any other education or early childhood service may pose to the safety, health or wellbeing of the child. A risk assessment must also specify how the identified risks will be managed and minimised. Some of the things a risk assessment must consider include:

  • the age, developmental stage and individual needs of the child
  • the role and responsibilities of; 
    • the nominated supervisor of each service the child will travel to or from
    • the child's parent
    • an authorised nominee named in the enrolment record
    • a person authorised by either the child’s parent or an authorised nominee in the enrolment record, and 
    • the service the care of which the child is entering or leaving
  • the communication arrangements between the service the child is leaving and the service the child is entering, including any communication arrangements if the child is missing or cannot be accounted for during the child's travel
  • the procedure if the service has identified a child is missing or cannot be accounted for during their travel
  • given the risks posed by the child’s travel, the number of educators or other responsible adults that is appropriate to provide supervision
  • the proposed route and destination, including any proximity to harm and hazards
  • the process for entering and exiting both the service premises and the pick-up location or destination (as required)
  • the procedure to be followed by the service to ensure the child leaves the service premises in accordance with regulation 99(4)(b). 

The policies and procedures must be updated as soon as practicable if a risk related to the child’s travel is identified after a risk assessment is conducted. 

A record of the risk assessment must be kept by the approved provider.  Failure to conduct the risk assessment may attract a compliance notice and a $2,200 penalty. 

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.2.1 (for all services)

Supporting smooth transitions

Assessors may observe:

 

  • children:
    • experiencing positive transitions within the service, between services and between the service, home, preschool/kindergarten and/or school

School age children

  • being supported and appropriately supervised when being transported to or from the service by car, bus, train, tram or on foot

Centre-based services

  • educators on different shifts in centre-based services communicating with each other about:
  •  
    • children’s experiences earlier in the day
    • information shared by families about their child.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the strategies in place to ensure:
    • children are supported when:
      • moving from one group to another
      • moving between settings, including between the service and schools or other education or early childhood services
      • returning to the service after an absence
      • transitioning between routines and experiences

School age children

  • they arrive at the service at short notice or unexpectedly
 
  • excursions are positive and safe learning experiences for children
  • educators and school based staff understand how the duty of care for children is shared during travel between the service and any other education or early childhood service 
  • the strategies and processes used to support:
    • children’s positive transition to formal schooling
    • children requiring additional support in their transition to school and to specialist services
  • how road safety education and any active transport initiatives are incorporated into the program
  • how families are involved in decision-making regarding transitions within the service (for example children moving to a different educator, room or group)
  • how the risk assessment process for the safe arrival of children who travel between the service and any other education or early childhood service was established and how it continues to be applied
  • common or ongoing risks that have been identified and how they are being managed

School age children

  • how:
    • information from families about their child’s attendance/non-attendance at the service is communicated to educators responsible for transitioning children between school and the service
    • information is shared between educators working in the before-school and after-school components of the service (and between schools and other education and early childhood services)
    • the service works with families to support and manage children’s attendance at extracurricular and sporting activities
    • the service works with schools to ensure children travel safely, smoothly and effectively from school to/from the service

Family day care

  • processes in place to ensure families are able to access alternative education and care if their usual educator is unavailable
  • the ways in which FDC educators and families share information about children’s extra-curricular activities and how this is used to inform appropriate programming and the safe arrival of children who travel to and from the FDC service
  • the ways in which co-ordinators support educators to facilitate the safe arrival of children who travel to and from the FDC service, including to/from school. 

Assessors may sight:

 

  • examples of summaries of the child’s progress towards the learning outcomes when transitioning between different age settings
  • examples of plans and statements to assist children in making positive transitions from the service to formal schooling
  • written procedures for releasing children from the service and ensuring that they are released only to authorised nominees
  • records of children’s arrivals and departures, with the signature of the person responsible for verifying the accuracy of the record and the identity of the person collecting the child
  • a copy of the policy and procedures related to the safe arrival of children who travel between the service and any other education or early childhood service, including a documented risk assessment process
  • completed risk assessments, related to the safe arrival of children
  • documentary evidence of authorisation for services to transport children from one place to another.

Birth to three

  • evidence that in centre-based services, shifts are planned to maximise continuity of education and care for children

School age children

  • documented procedures for transitioning children and young people between school and the service, including a procedure that addresses enrolled children who have not arrived at the service.

Element 6.2.2: Access and participation

Effective partnerships support children’s access, inclusion and participation in the program.

What Element 6.2.2 aims to achieve

The inclusive practices of educators, and the partnerships they form with each child and their families, have a significant effect on each child’s access, participation and success in learning. Educators’ attitudes, beliefs and values about inclusion are key factors for successful inclusion. Children thrive when families, educators, local schools and the wider community work together in partnership to support their access, inclusion and participation.

Services can support each child’s access, inclusion and participation in the program by learning about their individual context (family circumstances, geographic location, cultural and linguistic experiences) as well as their interests, learning styles, strengths and abilities. The educational leader and educators use this knowledge when making decisions about the physical environment, the curriculum and the day to day routines, rituals and transitions. To support all children’s inclusion, they recognise and respond to barriers that some children face, including attitudinal and practical barriers. Such barriers can be related to disability, family diversity, cultural and linguistic diversity, neurodiversity, and children and families living through trauma and adversity. Educators ensure that there are no barriers to children’s participation in any aspect of the program (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

By developing their professional knowledge and skills, and working in collaborative partnership with children, families and other services within the community, educators continually strive to find equitable and effective ways to ensure that all children have opportunities to experience quality learning regardless of circumstances, strengths, gender, capabilities, or diverse ways of being and doing. Educators create inclusive learning environments and adopt flexible and informed practices, including making reasonable adjustments to optimise participation and engagement in learning. This supports wellbeing and positive outcomes for children in all their diversities (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Planning and reflecting on practices, programs and policies assists educators to ensure that potential barriers to participation are addressed, each child is participating in the educational program, and services are ‘inclusion-ready’ and welcoming.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.2.2 (for all services)

Supporting children’s access, inclusion and participation

Assessors may observe:

 

  • all children:
    • demonstrating a sense of belonging and comfort in the service environment
    • demonstrating trust and confidence in educators and staff members
    • participating and engaging in play experiences (adapted from Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Centre-based services

  • that educators have adapted aspects of the environment, routines, transitions and staffing arrangements to facilitate the inclusion of all children

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service:
    • demonstrates its commitment to the participation of all children
    • ensures that the educational leader, co-ordinators and educators access support and/or participate in professional development to build the skills and expertise necessary to support the inclusion of children with disability, or specific health, cultural or developmental requirements
    • collaborates with families, other professionals, therapists or specialists from inclusion/support agencies to support all children and encourage their meaningful participation
  • how other professionals/therapists are involved in devising programs for individual children, and how shared goals for learning are identified and implemented
  • how plans are developed to support the inclusion of children who require specific health, cultural or developmental support
  • the processes involved in making or taking a referral to or from other services/agencies
  • how the service implements strategies to ensure environments are welcoming to children and families in the community, and enrolment information and procedures are accessible and clear
  • how educators identify potential barriers to inclusion and ensure the environment and routines are adapted appropriately to facilitate the participation of all children, including for children with disability

School age children

  • how the service collaborates with their local school to devise complementary support plans for individual children.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence:
    • that the service seeks to build their capacity to respond to each child’s specific requirements
    • of professional development that supports responsiveness to each child’s specific requirements and inclusive practices
    • that the service’s philosophy, policies and procedures demonstrate a commitment to access, inclusion and participation for every child and their family in the service
    • of meetings and/or communication between the service, families, and other agencies or specialists working with individual children
    • that where required, families are referred and supported to make contact with appropriate support services/agencies
    • that with the family’s consent and when required, information about the child’s experiences and achievements in the service is appropriately shared with other support services/agencies
  • examples of individual support plans for children that are embedded within the daily program and support the inclusion of the child
  • Strategic Inclusion Plans that promote inclusive programs and practices
  • procedures for families or educators to request referrals for children
  • processes for making and accepting referrals from other services/agencies in the local community such as:
    • child protection agencies
    • early childhood intervention services
    • cultural support agencies
    • family support agencies
    • health professionals
  • images, books and resources that reflect children and adults, from a range of backgrounds, cultures and abilities, as active contributors to and participants in the community.

Element 6.2.3: Community engagement

The service builds relationships and engages with its community.

What Element 6.2.3 aims to achieve

Services can further support children’s sense of belonging by helping them to experience connections and be engaged with their local community. When services develop respectful and responsive connections with their immediate or wider community, they are likely to further enrich the educational program for all children. Inviting members of diverse groups within the community to share their interests and expertise helps to extend children’s knowledge, and assists the service to reflect on the inclusiveness of its practices. This broadens children’s understanding of the world in which they live and contribute.

Building connections and relationships with people in the community helps children to learn more about various cultures that exist within Australia. Educators engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the philosophy of the setting, their planning and implementation of curriculum. The history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is respectfully and truthfully reflected through community involvement and culturally sensitive practices (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Having opportunities to visit places in the community helps children to form relationships with a broad range of people from the community, and to build respect and trust in adults outside their immediate family and service.

Children and young people have opportunities to be experience and participate in multiple communities. This allows older children to develop their capacity for independence and self-direction (Framework for School Age Care).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 6.2.3

Community engagement

Assessors may observe:

 

 

  • an environment that reflects the lives of the children and families using the service and the cultural diversity of the broader community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • images, books and resources that provide a balanced view of contemporary Australians
  • all service staff responding positively to the differences in families’ home lives and lifestyle choices
  • the educational leader and educators planning and implementing experiences in the program to support children’s understanding of the community within which they live.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service:
    • builds connections between the service and the local community
    • reflects and incorporates the diversity of the local community across its operations
    • strengthens children’s connection with and understanding of their community
    • uses community resources to improve the educational program and provide quality learning experiences for each child
    • demonstrates a commitment to developing their own cultural competence in a two-way process with families and communities
    • shares information about community events relevant for children and families
  • examples of community members coming into the service and examples of the service’s participation in the local community
  • how the educational leader, nominated supervisor, educators and co-ordinators engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and/or other local communities
  • how children are supported to develop an understanding of their social and cultural heritage

School age children

  • how educators incorporate educational excursions or incursions to develop children’s understanding of their local community.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • evidence that:
    • the service liaises with other children’s services, local businesses, schools, health and family support services and other organisations working with families and children in the local area
    • members of the local community are invited into the service to contribute to the program
    • children have opportunities to learn about and contribute to the community in which the service is located
  • planned experiences that involve incursions and/or children visiting parts of their community to extend on knowledge gained.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 6.2: Collaborative partnerships

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 6.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 6.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • establish and maintain ongoing collaborative partnerships with the community and link with community and support agencies to enhance children’s learning, wellbeing and participation?
    • respectfully engage and form reciprocal partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and diverse cultural community members to assist all children in exploring their own and others' connections to community?  
    • consistently facilitate inclusion and support assistance to ensure that the educational program enables each child to fully participate?
    • systematically promote continuity of learning and transitions for each child by sharing relevant information, clarifying responsibilities, and building collaborative strategies with relevant stakeholders?
  • Across the service, how does the observed and discussed approach to building collaborative partnerships with the community display a strong commitment to the vision, principles and practices of the approved learning framework/s, and align with the educational program and with resources that support community engagement and inclusion?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to collaborative partnerships:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence on collaborative partnerships?
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to collaborative partnerships understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • purposefully consider and create opportunities to strengthen the service’s approach to enhancing each child’s inclusion, learning, development and wellbeing, and seek out new links and partnerships where opportunities to further enhance children’s and families’ outcomes are identified?
    • explain how genuine and ongoing engagement with community groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is reflected on and how this informs the design and delivery of the educational program, supports each child’s learning, development and wellbeing, and enables full participation in the program for every child?
    • discuss how the service’s approach to inclusion support and supporting transitions between learning environments aligns with practice theory, the approved learning framework/s and the service’s policies and procedures?
    • consider and discuss social justice and equity implications of their approach to inclusion support and supporting transitions for all children, including self awareness of their own biases and how these may impact on child and family outcomes?
    • challenge stereotypes and assumptions and critically reflect on opportunities to raise awareness of and cultivate deep respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge, and how to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into everyday practice?
  • As a team, how do educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader engage in robust debate and discussion about the service’s approach to building community partnerships and supporting inclusion and transitions? Are personal, professional and organisational values that influence practice identified, discussed and challenged as part of this debate and discussion?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How do the service’s collaborative partnerships:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How are educators, co-ordinators and the educational leader:
    • supporting families to build relationships with relevant community services and agencies that enhance each child's wellbeing, learning and participation in the educational program?
    • seeking out and building new community partnerships in response to the perspectives, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service, including the changing support and transition needs of children, at the direct request of families when appropriate?
  • How do community partnerships contribute to a culture of inclusiveness, cultural responsiveness and sense of belonging at the service?
  • In what ways does the service demonstrate a commitment to building and sustaining reciprocal relationships with community groups, including mutually beneficial partnerships that make connections with local Elders and give back to the community?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Quality Area 7: Governance and leadership

Overview

Quality Area 7 focuses on effective leadership and governance of the service to establish and maintain quality environments for children’s learning and development. Effective leaders establish shared values for the service that reflect the service context and professionalism and set clear direction for the service’s continuous improvement. Governance refers to the systems in place to support effective management and operation of the service, consistent with the service’s statement of philosophy.

To achieve the best outcomes for children and families, a service requires a skilled and engaged workforce, sound administrative and risk management systems, well-documented policies and procedures, and a safe and healthy learning environment for children.

Effective evaluation and self-review enables a service to continuously improve their practice, policies and procedures. An ongoing cycle of self-assessment, planning and review, together with engagement with all stakeholders including families, creates a culture of continuous improvement at the service.

Educational leaders exercise collaborative leadership and teamwork by supporting educators, through professional and respectful conversations, to reflect on their practice and identify opportunities for improvement. Collaborative leadership and teamwork support a culture of peer mentoring and shared learning, where all team members contribute to and facilitate each other’s professional learning and growth (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 7 has two Standards that focus on governance and leadership at the service. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • effective governance requires a statement of philosophy, adequate management systems and clearly delineated roles and responsibilities to support the effective operation of a quality service
  • effective leadership establishes a culture of reflective practice to encourage continuous improvement across all aspects of the service, resulting in a higher quality service for children and their families.
Standard/ElementConceptDescriptor
QA7 Governance and Leadership
7.1GovernanceGovernance supports the operation of a quality service.
7.1.1Service philosophy and purposeA statement of philosophy guides all aspects of the service’s operations.
7.1.2Management systemsSystems are in place to manage risk and enable the effective management and operation of a quality service.
7.1.3Roles and responsibilitiesRoles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and understood, and support effective decision-making and operation of the service.
7.2LeadershipEffective leadership builds and promotes a positive organisational culture and professional learning community.
7.2.1Continuous improvementThere is an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process in place.
7.2.2Educational leadershipThe educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle.
7.2.3Development of professionalsEducators, co-ordinators and staff members’ performance is regularly evaluated and individual plans are in place to support learning and development.
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.

Standard 7.1: Governance

Governance supports the operation of a quality service.

How Standard 7.1 contributes to quality education and care

Governance provides leadership and direction to the service. The approved provider must ensure that there are effective systems, procedures and processes in place to support the service to operate effectively and ethically. This promotes the confidence of families and local community in the service.

An effective governance framework includes:

  • a statement of philosophy based on the service’s beliefs, values and aims for the educational program that the framework provides
  • an effective and efficient management system to:
    • enable the operation of a quality service
    • ensure that all aspects of its operations, including policies and procedures, are consistent with the principles underlying the National Law, National Regulations and any other legislation that applies to the service
    • manage foreseeable and long-term risks to the service’s operations and to children while they attend the service
  • ethical codes and practices that guide decision-making
  • clearly defined roles and responsibilities that support effective decision-making and operation of the service
  • an effective complaints management process
  • a continuous improvement approach to all aspects of the service and its educational program.

By establishing effective administrative and records management systems and implementing documented policies and procedures, the service can focus on delivering quality education and care for children and families.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 7.1 (for all services)

 
  • What are the strengths of our management and administration systems that contribute to delivering a quality service for children and their families?
  • How does our service’s governance contribute to the development of a service vision and purpose?
  • How do we determine the appropriate management and governance structure at our service?
  • How do we model collaborative leadership and teamwork to support the development of effective leaders at the service?
  • What is the process for making decisions within the service and is this process fair and equitable?
  • How can we improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our systems and processes?
  • Does our management of confidential information meet requirements?
  • To what extent does our statement of philosophy reflect our purpose, guide our practice and show a commitment to continuous improvement?
  • How and when is our statement of philosophy reviewed?
  • How do we address complaints? How is the complaints management process used to identify strategies for quality improvement?
  • Is our complaints management system/process effective in supporting quality improvement and empowering families to express their concerns and suggestions?
  • How can we ensure that families are able to contact the appropriate person when making a complaint?
  • What systems are in place to ensure the service’s compliance with the National Law and Regulations?
  • What systems are in place to regularly check the currency and validity of working with children checks, teaching registrations, first aid qualifications, and anaphylaxis and asthma management training?
  • How and when are our policies and procedures reviewed?
  • What systems are in place to ensure policies and procedures are being used to inform practice and is this information being communicated to families in respectful ways?
  • How does the service involve stakeholders in consultation, evaluation and advisory processes?
  • What information is provided to families about our governance structures?

Element 7.1.1: Service philosophy and purpose

A statement of philosophy guides all aspects of the service’s operations.

What Element 7.1.1 aims to achieve

A written statement of philosophy outlines the purpose and principles under which the service operates. It also reflects the guiding principles of the National Quality Framework (see section 3(3) of the National Law), and the approved learning frameworks (see Element 1.1.1).

A statement of philosophy serves three purposes. It:

  • underpins the decisions, policies and daily practices of the service
  • reflects a shared understanding of the role of the service among staff, children, families and the community
  • guides educators’ pedagogy, planning and practice when delivering the educational program.

When the educational leader, nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators contribute to the review of a philosophy statement, it is more likely to be owned by all members of the team. It encourages commitment and willingness to put it into practice.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.1.1 (for all services)

Service philosophy

Assessors may observe:

 

  • the practices of the educational leader, nominated supervisor, educators and co-ordinators are in line with the service’s statement of philosophy
  • the values stated in the service philosophy being reflected in the service’s environment, policies and procedures.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how a shared understanding of the service’s statement of philosophy underpins practice and decision-making for both individual educators and the service, including the planning cycle and approaches to equity and inclusion
  • how educators and families are encouraged to be meaningfully involved in reviews of the service’s statement of philosophy
  • examples of how the statement of philosophy is used to set directions, build commitment and align actions with the service’s goals and desired outcomes
  • the service’s approach to reviewing their philosophy statement to ensure it fits with changes to management and staffing, and new knowledge about practice that educational leaders and educators may have gained.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s statement of philosophy
  • documentation relating to the service’s review of its statement of philosophy (such as staff meeting minutes)
  • evidence that the service’s statement of philosophy is included in the induction process for all staff members and in the enrolment and orientation process for families.

Element 7.1.2: Management systems

Systems are in place to manage risk and enable the effective management and operation of a quality service.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 7.1.2

Section 21 Reassessment of fitness and propriety

Section 51(2) Conditions on service approval (FDC co-ordinators)

Section 56 Notice of addition of nominated supervisor

Section 56A Notice of change of a nominated supervisor’s name or contact details

Section 161 Offence to operate education and care service without nominated supervisor

Section 161A Offence for nominated supervisor not to meet prescribed minimum requirements

Section 162 Offence to operate education and care service unless responsible person is present

Section 162A Persons in day-to-day charge, nominated supervisors and family day care co-ordinators to have child protection training

Section 163 Offence relating to appointment or engagement of family day care co-ordinators

Section 164 Offence relating to assistance to family day care educators

Section 164A Offence relating to the education and care of children by family day care service

Section 165 Offence to inadequately supervise children

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Section 167 Offence relating to protection of children from harm and hazards

Section 168 Offence relating to required programs

Section 169 Offence relating to staffing arrangements

Section 170 Offence relating to unauthorised persons on education and care service premises

Section 171 Offence relating to direction to exclude inappropriate persons from education and care service premises

Section 172 Offence to fail to display prescribed information

Section 173 Offence to fail to notify certain circumstances to Regulatory Authority

Section 174 Offence to fail to notify certain information to Regulatory Authority

Section 174A Family day care educator to notify certain information to approved provider

Section 175 Offence relating to requirement to keep enrolment and other documents

Section 188 Offence to engage person to whom prohibition notice applies

Section 269 Register of family day care educators, co-ordinators and assistants

Regulation 158 Children’s attendance record to be kept by approved provider

Regulation 159 Children’s attendance record to be kept by family day care educator

Regulation 160 Child enrolment records to be kept by approved provider and family day care educator

Regulation 161 Authorisations to be kept in enrolment record

Regulation 162 Health information to be kept in enrolment record

Regulation 163 Residents at family day care residence and family day care educator assistants to be fit and proper persons

Regulation 164 Requirement for notice in relation to persons at residence

Regulation 165 Record of visitors

Regulation 166 Children not to be alone with visitors

Regulation 167 Record of service’s compliance

Regulation 168 Education and care service must have policies and procedures

Regulation 169 Additional policies and procedures

Regulation 170 Policies and procedures to be followed

Regulation 171 Policies and procedures to be kept available

Regulation 172 Notification of change to policies and procedures

Regulation 173 Prescribed information to be displayed—education and care service other than a family day care service

Regulation 173A Prescribed information to be displayed—family day care service

Regulation 174 Time to notify certain circumstances to Regulatory Authority

Regulation 174A Prescribed information to accompany notice

Regulation 175 Prescribed information to be notified to Regulatory Authority

Regulation 176 Time to notify certain information to Regulatory Authority

Regulation 176A Prescribed information to be notified to approved provider by family day care educator

Regulation 177 Prescribed enrolment and other documents to be kept by approved provider

Regulation 178 Prescribed enrolment and other documents to be kept by family day care educator

Regulation 179 Family day car educator to provide documents on leaving service

Regulation 180 Evidence of prescribed insurance

Regulation 181 Confidentiality of records kept by approved provider

Regulation 182 Confidentiality of records kept by family day care educator

Regulation 183 Storage of records and other documents

Regulation 184 Storage of records after service approval transferred

Regulation 185 Law and regulations to be available

Jurisdiction specific provisions

Tasmania – Regulation 344 Working with vulnerable people registration—staff members

Victoria – Regulation 358 Working with children check to be read

Victoria – Regulation 359 Criminal history record check to be read and considered

What Element 7.1.2 aims to achieve

Efficient and effective systems

Efficient and effective management systems allow the service to identify and manage organisational risks in a timely manner, and carry out risks assessments as required to manage foreseeable risks to children’s safety and wellbeing (see Element 2.2.1). Effective management systems support the educational leader, nominated supervisor and educators in their planning, delivery and reflection on the educational program, and the development of strategies to continuously improve. When educators have adequate time and administrative support to perform their roles, they can focus on delivering a quality service to children and their families.

Confidentiality and records management systems

Services are required to safely store and maintain the confidentiality and currency of information provided by families, service staff and other stakeholders. This builds families’ confidence in the service’s records management practices, and is an indicator of the level of professionalism at the service.

Administrative systems

The approved provider is required to:

  • ensure that the service operates in compliance with the National Law, the National Regulations and the National Quality Standard
  • liaise with the regulatory authority when required.

The approved provider must ensure that there are adequate systems in place to maintain the effective, compliant operation of the service.

Complaints management system

An effective complaints and grievance management system confirms to staff, families and the community that complaints and grievances are taken seriously and investigated promptly, fairly and thoroughly. Effective management of complaints may inform quality improvement processes and is an efficient way of considering and acting on feedback from families.

Notifying the regulatory authority of operational changes, incidents and complaints

The approved provider must notify the regulatory authority of certain circumstances and information, including any:

  • significant changes to the operation of the service, including changes to the hours and days of operation of the service, and, for centre-based services, if the service commences providing and/or arranging regular transport for children as part of the service, or if a service ceases providing and/or arranging regular transportation of children
  • for centre-based services, any change to the range of ages of children to be educated or cared for by a service 
  • for centre-based services, any change to the nature of education and care to be provided by a service
  • changes relevant to the fitness and propriety of the approved provider
  • complaints that may impact on the regulatory authority’s consideration of provider or service approvals
  • complaints alleging that a serious incident has occurred or is occurring while a child was or is being educated and cared for by the service*, or the National Law has been contravened
    * In WA the approved provider must notify of complaints alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child (or children) has been compromised, or the National Law has been contravened
  • serious incidents that occur at the service
  • any incident where the approved provider reasonably believes that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service.

Documented policies and procedures

The service should ensure that policies and procedures are well-documented, maintained and easily accessible to staff members and families. This supports the service to implement practices that are based on the service’s policies and procedures.

Regularly reviewing policies and procedures in collaboration with families supports a shared understanding of the service’s practices.

Risk management and employing fit and proper staff

Fitness and propriety describes a person’s suitability to be involved in the operation of an education and care service. Prior to granting provider approval or service approval, regulatory authorities assess whether the applicant applying for provider approval is fit and proper to provide an education and care service. The approved provider is responsible for assessing a person’s suitability for the roles of nominated supervisor and responsible person at the service.

The approved provider, nominated supervisor and responsible person must remain fit and proper for the service to operate under their management.

When a family day care service is provided in an educator’s home, adults who reside on the premises must be assessed as, and remain, fit and proper for the service to operate.

Checking and maintaining accurate records that relate to the fitness and propriety of all staff assists in safeguarding children against risks to their safety and wellbeing.

Thorough recruitment processes emphasising a commitment to children’s safety and wellbeing, including through advertisement, interview processes and candidate reference checks support a child safe organisational culture.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.1.2 (for all services)

Records management

Assessors may observe:

 

  • the facilities for storage of confidential records that are at the service or are immediately accessible by the service
  • program information being shared in a way that respects the rights of children and families to privacy and confidentiality.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the processes in place at the service for reviewing and updating records and information on a regular basis
  • the service’s practice in relation to the retention and disposal of records.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the following records available and kept for the required length of time:
    • evidence of current public liability insurance (this does not apply if the insurance is provided by a state or territory government)
    • a Quality Improvement Plan
    • child assessments
    • an incident, injury, trauma and illness record
    • a medication record
    • the child attendance record
    • the child enrolment record
    • the record of the death of a child while being educated and cared for by the service
    • a record of the service’s compliance history
    • a record of the responsible person in day-to-day charge
    • the name of the person designated as the educational leader
    • the nominated supervisor’s written consent to the nomination
    • the record of volunteers and students

Centre-based services

  • the record of how children were accounted for as they embarked and disembarked a vehicle at the service premises during regular transportation
  • the record, including the name and signature of the person or persons who confirmed that the children were accounted for as they embarked and disembarked a vehicle at the service premises during regular transportation 
  • the record, including the name and signature of the person or persons who confirmed that a check of the interior of the vehicle was completed at the education and care service premises after a period of regular transportation
  • staff records, including:
    • the names of responsible persons for each time that children are being educated and cared for by the service
    • the record of educators working directly with children

Family day care

  • records of:
    • family day care
    • visitors to family day care residences or approved family day care venues
    • working with children checks for residents aged 18 years and over (or other checks as required, depending on the service’s jurisdiction:
      see
      Regulation 163)
    • assessments of family day care residences and approved family day care venues
 
  • evidence that the educator is adequately monitored and supported by a family day care co-ordinator, including records of visits by the co-ordinator to the family day care residence or family day care venue, and any correspondence provided by the co-ordinator for the purpose of monitoring or support to the educator
  • evidence that records are stored appropriately to protect confidentiality
  • that the following prescribed information is displayed:
    • provider approval, including:
      • the approved provider name
      • the provider’s approval number
      • any conditions relating to the provider approval
    • service approval, including:
      • the name of the approved service
      • the service approval number
      • any conditions or waivers relating to the service approval
    • service or temporary waivers, including:
      • the National Regulations that have been waived
      • the duration of the waiver
      • whether the waiver is a service or a temporary waiver
    • nominated supervisor, including:
      • the name of the nominated supervisor
    • service rating, including the:
      • current ratings for each quality area under the National Quality Framework
      • overall rating of the service (a ratings certificate, which outlines the overall rating of the service and the current rating levels for each quality area, must also be clearly visible from the main entrance at each FDC residence or venue used to provide education and care to children as part of a family day care service)
    • service operation, including the:
      • opening days and hours
      • name and phone number of the responsible person in charge at any given time
      • name and phone number of the person who can be contacted for a complaint
      • name of the educational leader
      • contact details of the Regulatory Authority
    • health and safety, including a notice:
      • stating that a child at risk of anaphylaxis is enrolled at the service, if applicable
      • of an occurrence of an infectious disease at the service, if applicable.

Family day care

  • a diagram showing the areas of the family day care residence or approved venue indicating the areas of the residence or venue suitable for the provision of education and care to children.

 

Administrative systems

Assessors may observe the availability of information technology for administration, planning, evaluation and communication purposes, including for communication with families.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the role of the nominated supervisor in the service
  • procedures that apply to educators when requesting specific resources to support program delivery
  • human resource management procedures including recruitment and selection, leave, rosters and access to training and development
  • opportunities for all staff members to comment on and improve the effectiveness of systems within the service.

Assessors may sight examples of internal communications, such as meeting minutes, distribution of notices and staff bulletins.

Notifications to the regulatory authority

Assessors are unlikely to observe practice in relation to this element.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the process the service has in place for informing the regulatory authority about relevant changes
  • the service’s processes for notifying the regulatory authority of required matters
  • with the nominated supervisor, examples of the types of incidents they consider to be serious, which would require notification to the regulatory authority.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • information displayed in staff areas about the required notifications
  • records of notifications to the Regulatory Authority
  • records held by the regulatory authority in relation to complaints against the service that allege a breach of legislation or a serious incident.

Complaints management

Assessors are unlikely to observe practice in relation to this element.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the management of any complaints or grievances lodged with the service
  • how educational leaders, educators, nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and staff members listen to, document and follow up issues raised by children, families and other stakeholders.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • a documented grievance and complaints management procedure
  • evidence that grievances and complaints are investigated and documented in a timely manner
  • evidence that complaints lead to amendments to policies and procedures as required
  • information for families on how complaints and grievances are made and how they are managed by the service.

Documented policies and procedures

Assessors may observe that the service’s practices are consistent with documented policies and procedures.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • the provision of information about the service’s policies and practices to parents/families prior to the child’s attendance at the service
  • the ways in which families are encouraged to contribute to the development and review of policies
  • how families are explicitly informed of policy changes.

Assessors may sight the following required policies and procedures available at the service, which are also available to families:

 

  • health and safety policies and procedures, including:
    • delivery and collection of children
    • excursions or transportation provided or arranged by the service
    • refusal of authorisation for a child to leave the service
    • dealing with infectious disease
    • dealing with medical conditions
    • emergency and evacuation
    • health and safety, which covers:
      • nutrition, food and beverages, dietary requirements
      • sun protection
      • sleep and rest for infants and children
      • water safety
      • the administration of first aid
    • incident, injury, trauma and illness
    • a child-safe environment
  • staffing policies and procedures, including:
    • a code of conduct
    • determining the responsible person present
    • the participation of volunteers and students
  • relationships with children policies and procedures, including interactions with children
  • service management policies and procedures, including:
    • governance and management of the service, and confidentiality of records
    • enrolment and orientation
    • payment of fees
    • dealing with complaints

Family day care

  • the assessment, approval and reassessment of approved family day care residences and family day care venues
  • the engagement or registration of family day care educators
  • keeping a register of family day care educators
  • monitoring, support and supervision of family day care educators
  • fit and proper assessment of family day care educators and assistants and adults residing at family day care residences
  • visitors to family day care residences and venues
  • provision of information, assistance and training to family day care educators
  • engagement and registration of family day care educator assistants.

Fit and proper staff

Assessors are unlikely to observe practice in relation to this element during a site visit.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • with service staff their understanding of their responsibilities under the relevant child protection legislation
  • with the approved provider the fitness and propriety of nominated supervisors

Family day care

  • the service’s approach to ensuring the fitness and propriety of adults who reside in educators’ homes when the education and care service is provided to children.

Assessors may sight evidence:

 

  • in the staff record of sighting, and recording the identifying number and expiry date of, working with children checks (or equivalent as required in Part 4.4 Divisions 9 and 10 of the National Regulations)
  • of required safety screening clearance for:
    • educators, co-ordinators, family day care educator assistants and staff members prior to engagement at the service

Family day care

  • residents aged 18 years and over.

Element 7.1.3: Roles and responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and understood, and support effective decision-making and operation of the service.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 7.1.3

Section 51(2) Conditions on service approval (FDC co-ordinators)

Section 163 Offence relating to appointment or engagement of family day care
co-ordinators

Section 164A Offence relating to the education and care of children by family day care service

Section 174A Family day care educator to notify certain information to approved provider

What Element 7.1.3 aims to achieve

Each individual who begins work at the service should have a clear understanding of their role, responsibilities and the expectations for their performance. They should be encouraged to engage with the philosophy and context that underpin the operation of the service as early as possible. A comprehensive induction process plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a positive and professional culture.

Services should foster a clear and open understanding of the staffing structure and responsibilities of all staff. This supports effective decision-making and efficient service operation.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.1.3 (for all services)

Roles and responsibilities

Assessors are unlikely to observe practice in relation to this element during a site visit.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how responsibilities and expectations are communicated to all staff members
  • educators’ understanding of:
  • the service’s particular code of conduct and any code of ethics used to inform and evaluate practice (for example Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics)
  • with any new staff members, their level of understanding of the philosophy of the service and the context in which it operates
  • with staff members their experience of, and satisfaction with, the service’s induction process
  • induction processes for all educators and staff, including relief educators

Family day care

  • the service’s approach to inducting new educators and developing their understanding of their roles and responsibilities as a family day care educator.

Assessors may sight:

 
  • the service’s documented induction procedure
  • information provided to all staff members about the service and their role, such as position descriptions.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 7.1: Governance

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 7.1.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.  
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 7.1

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How do well established governance arrangements and administrative systems consistently support the operation of a high quality service and drive continuous quality improvement?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities discuss and demonstrate how the service’s management systems support proactive risk management and drive continuous improvement, for example in relation to:
    • recruitment and staff selection?
    • responding to and learning from incidents, complaints and feedback from families?
    • maintaining up-to-date records that support effective service provision?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities discuss and demonstrate how their daily practice is underpinned by the service’s statement of philosophy and how they are involved in reviewing the statement regularly?
  • How do persons with management responsibilities discuss and demonstrate how the statement of philosophy underpins service operations, and explain how it was developed and how and when it is reviewed?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities discuss and demonstrate a strong commitment to the approved learning frameworks through the effective management and operation of the service?
  • How are the guiding principles of the National Law (see section 3 of the Law) reflected in and consistently enacted through the service’s statement of philosophy?
  • How do the service’s policies and practices on recruitment and retention of staff reflect the diversity of the local community?
  • Do all members of the service team, including relief staff, understand and articulate their roles and responsibilities, including in relation to each other, children, and families, and the service’s decision-making processes?
  • Across the service, do observed and discussed governance and administrative arrangements align with systems, documented policies, procedures and records?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to governance understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities:
    • critically reflect on the statement of philosophy, individually and together, to ensure it aligns with the service’s current purpose, priorities, and approach to practice and the approved learning framework/s, and make changes where required to strengthen alignment and drive continuous improvement?
    • engage in regular reviews of systems, policies and procedures to ensure they are effective, align with quality practice, are responsive to feedback identified through the service’s risk management and quality improvement systems, and support consistent, high quality practice across the service?
    • discuss the service’s governance and decision-making processes and how these align with professional standards and contribute to continuous quality improvement?
  • How does the service support and enable all members of the service team to provide feedback on opportunities to strengthen governance and administrative systems, including decision-making processes, and is this feedback respectfully considered?
  • Are change processes managed sensibly and collaboratively with key stakeholders and is the rationale for change clearly communicated?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does governance of the service:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities:
    • actively support families and the community to meaningfully engage with the service philosophy, policies and procedures, and to provide feedback and contribute to regular reviews?
    • actively support families and the community to understand the roles and responsibilities of members of the service team and how to engage with the service’s feedback processes?
  • How does the service support and enable families and the community to provide feedback on governance arrangements and administrative systems, including decision-making and feedback processes?
  • How are governance and administrative arrangements contributing to a culture of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging at the service and how do they suit the unique context of the service?
  • How are governance and administrative arrangements culturally responsive and demonstrating the service’s deep respect for the diversity of all children, families and communities? 

Standard 7.2: Leadership

Effective leadership builds and promotes a positive organisational culture and professional learning community.

How Standard 7.2 contributes to quality education and care

Effective leadership builds and maintains a professional workplace in which all staff members can communicate and raise issues openly, participate in respectful debate and contribute to each other’s ongoing professional learning.

A positive work culture that is focused on quality encourages management and staff to continuously improve the service for the benefit of children and their families. Building a positive culture and professional learning community involves:

  • reflecting on and continuously questioning how to improve teaching methods, educators’ practices, curriculum quality, equity, and the wellbeing and inclusion of each child
  • building staff members’ professional knowledge
  • strengthening relationships with children and families
  • establishing expectations for:
    • the quality of education and care provided by nominated supervisors, educational leaders, educators and co-ordinators
    • programs and practices that promote children’s wellbeing, learning and development.

To lead effectively, leaders need current, in-depth content knowledge as well as a deep understanding and appreciation of children’s learning and development. Research demonstrates that there is a strong link between leadership and improved outcomes for children. Effective leaders are clear about the purpose of education and care services and have the skills to effectively communicate shared goals and expectations.

To develop and maintain an organisational culture that is inclusive and promotes high expectations, leaders need to demonstrate ongoing commitment to equity, inclusion and a respect for diversity in all aspects of the service.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 7.2 (for all services)

 
  • How is the leadership in our service contributing to the development of a positive organisational culture?
  • How can we develop the skills and capacity of team members in a way that leads to improved shared leadership?
  • How is the leadership in our service promoting high expectations, equity and inclusion? 
  • How are we creating opportunities for professional and respectful conversations about practice?
  • How do our performance management processes support continuous improvement?
  • How can we share the collective knowledge of the team and create opportunities for critical reflection and collaboration on our practice?
  • What do we know about the rate of, and reasons for, turnover of educators, co-ordinators and staff members at this service?
  • How do we create opportunities for professional learning experiences including professional conversations, coaching and mentoring, and practitioner inquiry within our service? 
  • How can we structure our staffing arrangements to improve continuity of care for children?
  • How does the evidence/data we collect inform our self-assessment and quality improvement processes? Do we need to collect additional or different data?
  • How are children, families and communities included in evaluating the quality of our service?
  • In what ways does our service analyse feedback, complaints, serious incidents, injuries and illness to drive continuous improvement?
  • How are resources allocated and targeted to support our quality improvement plan?
  • How do we raise awareness of inclusion amongst service staff, and support educators to promote and reduce the barriers to inclusion for all children and families?
  • What strategies are proving successful in building a professional learning community? How do we know they are successful?
  • How can we use the Assessment and Rating Instrument in our self-assessment process?
  • How can the guiding principles of the National Law be considered in our self-assessment process?
See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

 

Element 7.2.1: Continuous improvement

There is an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process in place.

 

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 7.2.1

Regulation 31 Condition on service approval-quality improvement plan

Regulation 55 Quality improvement plans

Regulation 56 Review and revision of quality improvement plans

What Element 7.2.1 aims to achieve

Quality services regularly monitor and review their performance to guide planning and improve service quality. This creates a shared understanding of the principles that guide the service, and encourages continuous improvement in practice, policies and procedures.

Quality services regularly update and maintain their Quality Improvement Plan as a dynamic document to guide progress towards improvement. Quality services use the Quality Improvement Plan for continuous assessment against the National Quality Standard and the approved learning frameworks, to identify new goals for the service as part of an effective cycle of improvement. Incorporating regular self-assessment and quality improvement discussions in staff meetings encourages educators to participate in reflection on key practices, such as pedagogy and inclusion, and enables all staff members to provide input into planning for continuous quality improvement.

Establishing and maintaining a culture of critically reflective practice and self-review offers challenge, inspires motivation, and supports positive levels of staff satisfaction. This provides opportunities for all staff to improve their practice and programming, which contributes directly to improved learning outcomes for children.

An effective cycle of continuous improvement includes reviewing:

  • the extent to which the service meets or exceeds the National Quality Standard
  • the performance of all staff members
  • how the service and its practices are delivered in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework and/or the Framework for School Age Care (or other approved learning frameworks)
  • the outcomes for children at the service against the learning outcomes in these frameworks
  • feedback and complaints from children and families.
See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.2.1 (for all services)

Regular self-assessment

Assessors may observe service practices and program delivery that match the service’s self- assessment, which is reflected in its Quality Improvement Plan.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service:
    • aligns program delivery with quality improvement planning
    • collects and uses information from a range of sources as part of the process of self-assessment and planning for quality improvements
    • uses reflections on children’s learning and development to plan, implement and evaluate programs and to support children in achieving outcomes (see Elements 1.3.1 and 1.3.2)
    • engages in reflective practice on inclusion in the service’s Quality Improvement Plan
  • how the educational leader supports educators to engage in critically reflective practice to refine strategies and to create and sustain improvements
  • processes for regularly updating the Quality Improvement Plan and identifying new goals and strategies for quality improvement
  • how the views and suggestions of educators, children and families are considered and used to inform the development and review of the service philosophy, quality improvement planning processes, including self-assessments.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • the service’s Quality Improvement Plan displayed so that families and staff can view the current goals and strategies for quality improvement
  • the documented process for ongoing self-assessment, planning and review against the National Quality Standard
  • systems for collecting information from families, children and staff members about their perceptions of the service.

Element 7.2.2: Educational leadership

The educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle.

What Element 7.2.2 aims to achieve

Educational leadership

The role of the educational leader is primarily to:

  • collaborate with educators and provide curriculum direction and guidance
  • support educators to effectively implement a continuous cycle of planning, assessment and critical reflection to enhance programs and practices
  • lead the development and implementation of an effective educational program in the service
  • ensure that children’s learning and development are guided by the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework and/or the Framework for School Age Care or other approved learning frameworks.

The educational leader of a service plays a significant role in guiding and developing educators’ and families’ understandings about play and leisure-based learning, and the significance of the early years in the education continuum for children. Their approach to leadership for learning has the potential to build the knowledge, skills and professionalism of educators, and to help communicate these important messages to families, schools and the broader community.

'A robust culture of critical reflection is established when educators as a team, as well as children and families, are all involved in an ongoing cycle of review. Current practices are examined, outcomes of those practices evaluated, new ideas generated, tried and tested. This approach supports educators to question established practices and to think about why they are working in particular ways. In such a climate, there is opportunity to engage in deep thinking about pedagogy, equity and children’s wellbeing' (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care).

Selecting and supporting the educational leader

Leadership in education and care is complex, multi-faceted and diverse. Emerging research on the role of educational leader in the Australian context demonstrates that this type of pedagogical leadership may present a range of challenges and require a different set of skills than other types of leaders within the service. It also recognised that for the educational leader to be successful in generating quality outcomes, they need to be supported in their role. An approved provider/nominated supervisor might consider the following skills, knowledge and attributes in nominating and developing the educational leader:

  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • comprehensive knowledge of theory that relates to early childhood education and care (for example, child development, attachment, learning), professional standards and approved learning frameworks, and contemporary understanding of evidence-based best practice approaches to teaching and learning
  • knowledge of leadership theory and the use of a range of leadership styles
  • thinking skills, including the ability to critically analyse and challenge conventional practice and ideas
  • a sense of purpose and direction, and the ability to influence
  • a willingness to mentor and support educators from diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of knowledge and experience
  • commitment to learning and participating in professional learning opportunities.

Approved providers and nominated supervisors might also consider how they provide support for the educational leader and what the outcomes for the role might look like in terms of improved quality programs and practice. Some key features include enabling capacity building opportunities, empowering leaders and ensuring the role is well-resourced. Resources may include time, professional learning materials and opportunities, clearly defined role description, expectations, networking and collegial support opportunities.

Leading, developing and implementing the program

The educational leader provides guidance on educators’ pedagogy and professional practice, by supporting educators to build and nurture secure respectful relationships with children and families, and assisting educators to articulate how and why they make decisions about the curriculum/program.

An effective educational program includes realistic goals which have a clear purpose in line with the service’s philosophy (see Element 7.1.1). The educational program and practice reflect the vision, principles, practice and learning outcomes of an approved learning framework (see Element 1.1.1).

Other key aspects of the educational leader’s role in leading, developing and implementing the program include:

  • mentoring and supporting educators’ understanding of educational program and practice, such as:
    • how theory supports best practice in all parts of the program
    • building relationships and interactions with children to assist their learning through play and leisure-based programs
    • intentional teaching strategies and thoughtful, deliberate educator practices that support children’s wellbeing, learning and development
    • routines and transitions
    • providing for continuity of learning when children transition to, from or within the service
    • developing documentation that is meaningful, relevant and promotes reflection on educators’ pedagogy and practice
  • drawing on a range of understandings about learning theories and styles, as well as educators’ strengths, to develop educators’ professional skills and confidence
  • encouraging and empowering educators to draw on their creativity, intuition, knowledge of child development, as well as children’s knowledge, identity and culture in their teaching and planning for learning
  • promoting a culture of equity, inclusive and high expectations by supporting educators to create inclusive learning environments and adopt flexible and informed practices, including making reasonable adjustments to optimise access, participation and engagement in learning for all children and young people (Early Years Learning Framework; Framework for School Age Care). 
  • liaising with other early childhood education and care professionals (such as therapists, maternal and child health nurses, and early childhood intervention specialists)
  • assisting educators to make connections in the community, including with diverse cultures and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Elders or their representatives
  • encouraging educators to reflect on how they draw on diverse perspectives, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures, knowledge systems and language, in their teaching and planning for learning.

Assessment and planning cycle

An ongoing cycle of assessment and planning is critical to the delivery of a quality educational program. The educational leader plays a pivotal role in this process, including:

  • leading educators to use current approaches to documentation and planning
  • mentoring and supporting educators in how they assess learning
  • ensuring that the assessment and planning cycle is applied to each child and the program as a whole (see Element 1.3.1); note some jurisdictions have different requirements for the program in school age services)
  • assisting educators to understand and implement reflective practice (see Element 1.3.2)
  • leading critical reflection discussions to examine program and practice, investigate alternative approaches and ways of thinking, identify quality improvements required and plan for improvements
  • leading further discussions after educators have implemented a change to program or practice, and identifying if other improvements are needed
  • communicating in sensitive and meaningful ways with families when they need more information about the educational program and/or their child’s learning
  • assisting educators to create meaningful opportunities for children and young people and families to be involved in the ongoing cycle of review. 

For more information about the assessment and planning cycle, see Standard 1.3 and Element 1.3.1.

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.2.2 (for all services)

Educational leadership

Assessors may observe the educational leader working with educators to build capacity and understanding about their pedagogy and practice, including ways they assess, reflect on and plan for children’s learning.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • how the service supports the educational leader to have opportunities for discussions with educators, provide mentoring, lead critically reflective practice, and realise the intent of their role
  • how the educational leader assists educators to promote children’s learning and development and, when necessary, facilitate discussions with families
  • what strategies and processes the educational leader uses to lead the development of effective programs within the service and to ensure that the planning cycle is implemented effectively
  • how the educational leader supports and builds educators’ understandings of how to assess, plan for and evaluate children’s learning, including supporting the development of documentation that is meaningful and relevant
  • the ways that leadership is tailored and targeted to reflect individuals’ strengths and areas for growth
  • how educators are mentored and supported through learning communities, positive organisational culture and professional conversations
  • how the educational leader works with the service’s leadership and management structure to support educators through periods of change.

Assessors may sight evidence of:

 

  • designation of the educational leader in the staff record
  • documentation of the educational leader providing feedback and guidance to educators about the assessment and planning cycle
  • reflective practice discussions that critically examine current practice and that lead to quality improvement.

Element 7.2.3: Development of professionals

Educators, co-ordinators and staff members’ performance is regularly evaluated and individual plans are in place to support learning and development.

What Element 7.2.3 aims to achieve

A system of regular performance review alongside individual learning and development plans is essential to the development of skills and professional knowledge of educators. Performance planning and review ensures that the knowledge, skills and practices of educators and other staff members are current, and that areas requiring further development are addressed.

An effective performance review provides opportunities for educators to assess their own work performance against their job description, relevant code of ethics (for example Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics) and the service’s code of conduct. The process recognises the specific strengths and contributions of each educator, which has the potential to encourage continuous quality practice and motivate them to continue to learn and develop professionally. Services can address areas that require improvement using a supportive and professional approach, to assist in accessing opportunities to engage in ongoing learning.

Educators who are committed to ongoing learning and performance improvement lift the quality of the service, potentially benefitting staff members, children, families and communities.

Learning and development can be enhanced when educational and/or service leaders (see Element 7.2.2) take on an active mentoring role, in collaboration with educators, to develop individual professional development plans that:

  • develop educators’ professional knowledge, skills and practices
  • support creativity, imagination, innovation and continuous quality improvement
  • build an understanding of the influence of theories and beliefs
  • support educators to develop their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and meaningfully and respectfully engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • support educators to stay abreast of current policies, practice and thinking (for example inclusive policies and practice).

For example, educational leaders can mentor new educators to develop their practice that is equitable, inclusive and promotes high expectations for all children and ensure that an inclusive philosophy underpins their pedagogy, program planning and interactions with each child and their families.

There is no one size fits all approach to the performance review, planning and improvement process. The main focus should be on developing an effective and efficient process for quality improvement. The outcome of the process is to:

  • build and strengthen educators’ understanding of the National Quality Framework
  • support the development of strategies, practices and processes to meet the Standards
  • further educators’ knowledge of quality early childhood education practices and programs.

Effective performance reviews include the following components:

Planning

  • identify opportunities for capacity building and leadership
  • build on strengths and capabilities
  • links to other plans
  • set timelines for goals and reviews

Review

  • expectations of the position description
  • links to service vision and philosophy
  • review of previous plan
  • acknowledging achievements and contributions

Improvement

  • set clear goals and expectations with measurable indicators
  • plan for professional learning
  • identify strategies and approaches for support and mentoring
  • tailor to suit individual needs
  • collaborate with the educational leader

Assessment guide for meeting Element 7.2.3 (for all services)

Supporting staff learning and development

Assessors may observe the performance of each educator, co-ordinator and staff member supported by the educational leader and/or nominated supervisor.

Assessors may discuss:

 

  • processes to ensure each educational leader, co-ordinator, educator and staff member receives ongoing feedback about their performance and support to improve practice
  • how the educational leader, co-ordinators, educators and staff members self-assess their performance and set individual performance and learning goals
  • how performance processes identify strengths and areas for development, and how these areas for development are addressed
  • how the service’s performance review process contributes to planning for educators’ learning and further development, and how the service supports this process
  • how the effort, contribution and achievement of educators, educational leaders, co-ordinators and staff members is acknowledged and celebrated

Family day care

  • opportunities for educators to provide feedback about the effectiveness of the support provided by the coordination unit.

Assessors may sight:

 

  • individual performance plans for educators, co-ordinators and staff members
  • documented position descriptions for educators, educational leaders, co-ordinators and staff members that:
    • clearly outline the responsibilities of the position
    • clearly explain the approved provider’s expectations
    • are used as the basis for monitoring and reviewing the performance of educators, educational leaders, co-ordinators and staff members
  • evidence of participation by educators, educational leaders, co-ordinators and staff members in professional development activities to update their knowledge and skills
  • evidence that performance reviews for all educators, educational leaders, co-ordinators and staff members are conducted regularly and include a process for reviewing and updating professional development plans based on an evaluation of their professional strengths, interests and goals

Family day care

  • home visit/support contact records
  • policies and procedures about conducting visits to educators’ homes.

Exceeding guidance for Standard 7.2: Leadership

Overview

The following guidance is questions for services to ask of their own practice to consider whether their service Exceeds the NQS in Standard 7.2.

Authorised officers determine the rating of each Standard by considering each theme in relation to each Standard descriptor.
For further information on the three Exceeding themes, including what authorised officers consider when reviewing whether evidence demonstrates a theme, see Exceeding NQS theme guidance.
You can find case studies describing examples of practice for this Standard at https://www.acecqa.gov.au/assessment/exceeding-themes

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 7.2

Exceeding theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations

 
  • How do educators, the educational leader, and co-ordinators demonstrate a deep understanding of the requirements of the Standard, concepts and the component elements, and a commitment to high quality practice at all times?
  • How does effective leadership:
    • build and consistently promote a positive organisational culture and professional learning community that supports all members of the service team to develop as professionals, critically reflect on their practice and contribute meaningfully to quality improvement processes?
    • build educator capacity by supporting educators through ongoing professional development opportunities, such as coaching and mentoring, professional reading, practitioner inquiry, and collaborative research projects?
  • How do all members of the service team:
    • explain how the service’s performance evaluation process consistently supports their learning and development goals and growth as professionals, including how a tailored professional development plan provides a focus for continuous performance improvement?
    • discuss and demonstrate how they actively participate in the service’s ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement process, and how this process drives continuous improvement in service quality and enhances outcomes for children and families?
  • How does the educational leader discuss and demonstrate how they are supported by the service’s leadership team, and work collaboratively with educators to effectively lead the development of the curriculum and set high expectations for teaching and learning?
  • How does the educational leader model and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to culturally responsive practice, and to developing their cultural knowledge and how they draw on this knowledge, in a three-way process with children, families and communities, in everyday practice? 
  • How does the educational leader support educators to develop their own cultural knowledge and draw on this knowledge in everyday practice?
  • How do educators discuss and demonstrate how they are supported by the educational leader to learn and grow in their professional practice, and how they work with the educational leader to consistently deliver an equitable and inclusive educational program that sets high expectations for each child’s learning?
  • Across the service, do observed and discussed quality improvement processes align with the service’s Quality Improvement Plan and with other supporting documentation, including individual professional development plans for staff members?

Exceeding theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection

 
  • How is the service’s approach to leadership:
    • reflective of robust debate, discussion, and opportunities for input by all educators, and informed by critical reflection and past incidents?
    • informed by current recognised guidance and/or research evidence on leadership that supports the operation of a quality service?
  • Are any changes to the service’s approach to leadership understood by all and implemented appropriately?
  • How does the leadership team regularly reflect on the service’s quality improvement processes and make changes where opportunities are identified to enhance outcomes for the service team, children and families?

How are all members of the service team:

  • regularly reflecting on their own learning and professional development goals and opportunities to strengthen their performance and practice, and sharing their insights through informal and formal performance discussions to support alignment of expectations and goals?
  • systematically reflecting, individually and as a team, on service performance in relation to the National Quality Standard, focus areas identified in the Quality Improvement Plan, and goals for teaching and learning to ensure the service is meeting its own and the regulatory system’s expectations for high quality and continuous improvement?
  • critically reflecting on their level of cultural responsiveness and how they can build on their commitment to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and knowledge in all aspects of the curriculum and understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures?
  • critically reflecting on how the vision, principles, practices and learning outcomes of the approved learning framework/s can enhance their teaching practices and improve the quality of learning experiences for all children?
  • How does the service support and enable all members of the service team to provide feedback on quality improvement processes and is this feedback respectfully considered?
  • Are change processes managed sensitively and collaboratively with key stakeholders and is the rationale for change is clearly communicated?

Exceeding theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

 
  • How does leadership at the service:
    • reflect the unique geographical, cultural, social and community context of the service?
    • welcome, reflect and draw on the voices, priorities and strengths of the children and families at the service?
  • How do educators, co-ordinators and those with management responsibilities:
    • support families and the community to participate meaningfully in the service’s quality improvement processes, including the development and review of the Quality Improvement Plan?
    • support families and the community to understand the role of the educational leader in relation to their own child’s participation in the service, and regularly invite them to discuss their own goals and expectations for their child’s learning, development and wellbeing to inform the educational program?
  • In what ways does the service support and enable families and the community to provide feedback on quality improvement processes, and how is this feedback actively considered as part of the regular cycle of self-assessment that supports continuous quality improvement?
  • How does the service build and maintain community partnerships that strengthen the professional learning community and support continuous quality improvement, enhancing outcomes for children, families, and the service team?
  • How do quality improvement processes contribute to a culture of inclusiveness, respect for diversity, and a sense of belonging at the service, and suit the unique context of the service?
See the ACECQA Educational Leader Resource for information for educational leaders.
See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

Assessment and rating process

This chapter explains the assessment and rating process of education and care services and provides guidance on the self-assessment and quality improvement planning process. It also provides detail about how ratings are calculated and reviewed against the National Quality Standard.

1. Introduction

National Law & Regulations, Sections 3(2)(c), 3(2)(e) and 133, Regulation 133 ]

Services are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard (NQS) to:

  • promote continuous improvement in the provision of quality education and care
  • improve knowledge and access to information about the quality of services to help families make informed decisions about their child’s education and care.

Services are assessed and rated against the NQS by the state or territory regulatory authority.

The National Regulations outline the assessment and rating (A&R) process for education and care services including the rating levels.

See the National Quality Standard chapter for more information on the NQS.

Notice of an assessment and rating visit 

In most cases, regulatory authorities will provide at least 1-5 days notice that an assessment and rating visit or conversation will occur. For some services, such as some rural and remote services and single-educator models, longer notice will be provided to enable appropriate access to the service and availability of educators. The regulatory authority may commence an assessment and rating reassessment in response to compliance issues identified at the service. Where there have been compliance issues at the service, the regulatory authority may choose to commence the assessment and rating process without notice.

Summary of the assessment and rating process

Approved providers of new services will receive a letter informing them that an assessment and rating process will typically occur 9-18 months after the service begins operating.

Self-assessment and quality improvement

Approved provider conducts a self-assessment of the quality of their current practices against the NQS and linked regulatory requirements.

Approved provider identifies strengths and where improvements can be made which is documented in a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) and uploaded to the NQA ITS or any other jurisdictional specific submission process. For new services this must occur within 3 months of receiving a service approval.

 
 

Notice of visit

Regulatory authority generally provides 1-5 days’ notice that a site visit will occur. When giving notice, the regulatory authority will consider the context of the service, and whether the regulatory authority is reasonably satisfied that typical practice can be observed at the service on the visit day. For partial reassessments that do not require a visit, the regulatory authority may provide 1-5 days’ notice that a conversation will occur instead of a visit. A&R that commences in response to compliance issues may be unannounced or commence with short notice.

Information gathering

The regulatory authority may contact you within this time for information in writing, by phone or video conference. 

 
 

Assessment and rating visit takes place at the service, if deemed necessary by the relevant regulatory authority.

Draft report

Regulatory authority provides the approved provider with a draft assessment and rating report.

 

 

Feedback on draft report

Provider can give feedback on any factual inaccuracies in the report and evidence to support feedback.

Final report and notice of final ratings is issued to the provider

Feedback considered before final report is finalised and issued.

 

 

Final report

Approved provider may choose to apply for a review of final ratings within the set review period.

Ratings published on national registers

Once the review period has ended, the final ratings are published on the national registers on the ACECQA website.

 

2. Self-assessment and quality improvement planning

National Regulations, Regulation 55 ]

Ongoing self-assessment against the National Quality Standard (NQS) drives continuous improvement and is essential to providing quality outcomes for children.

Under the National Regulations, the approved provider must ensure a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is in place for each service.

The purpose of the QIP (or Self-Assessment Working Document in NSW) is to help providers self-assess their performance in delivering quality education and care, and to plan future improvements. The QIP also helps regulatory authorities with the assessment of the service. The QIP does not have to be provided in any specific format, but must include the three required components outlined below. The QIP can be uploaded to the NQA ITS or via any other jurisdictional specific submission process. The QIP is an enabler of continuous improvement and encourages self-reflection and self-assessment of quality areas. Whenever the QIP is updated, the uploaded version will need to be revised to reflect any changes because the uploaded version will be used by regulatory authorities for assessment and rating. 

A QIP must:

  • include an assessment by the approved provider of the quality of the practices of the service against the NQS and the National Law and Regulations
  • identify areas that the approved provider considers may require improvement
  • include a statement of philosophy for the service.

The following section explains the three components of the QIP.

Self-assessment

The first step in the quality improvement planning process is to conduct a self-assessment.

Self-assessment involves critically reflecting on current practice at the service, deciding what is being done well and identifying opportunities for improvement.

The approved provider, educators and management should be familiar with the NQS and related regulatory requirements and reflect on practice, policies and procedures against the seven (7) quality areas of the NQS and related regulatory requirements. This will provide an informed picture of:

  • current practice
  • the quality of education and care experienced by children and families.

This picture of current practice highlights and confirms the service’s strengths and is the starting point for planning to improve quality.

The National Quality Standard includes a set of reflective questions that serve as prompts to explore current practice at the service. This can assist the provider to think about how and why things are done in a particular way while reflecting on specific practices to determine the:

  • effectiveness of practice for all children and families
  • relevance of the practice to the service and its stakeholders
  • equity and fairness of the practice for all children, families and educators.
See ACECQA Self-assessment tool for information on conducting self-assessment.

Areas for improvement

Reflection determines quality improvements

Following the reflection and self-assessment of current practice in the service, the next step is to identify the opportunities where quality improvements can be made and to plan effectively to implement them.

It is important to be open, honest and critically reflective when undertaking the self-assessment and quality improvement planning processes.

Turning reflection into quality improvement strategies

The QIP must include strategies to address the areas for further improvement identified during the self-assessment process.

A service rated Meeting or Exceeding NQS in all quality areas should be able to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to continuous improvement by documenting how the service will continue to explore opportunities to improve quality.

Statement of philosophy

The statement of philosophy describes the service’s values, beliefs and understandings about children, families, the role of educators and the ways children learn. To meet the NQS, the statement of philosophy should be used to guide all aspects of the service’s operations.

It is recommended educators, families and children be involved in the development and review of the service’s philosophy statement. Critical reflection on the philosophy in light of new research, the approved learning frameworks, and families’ views and expectations supports the service’s goals for quality education and care, and continuous improvement.

A statement of philosophy:

• describes the service’s values, beliefs and understandings
• informs understanding of educators, children, families and the community
• leads to improved practices, relationships, policies and procedures

Quality Improvement Plan: the main points

Submit the plan: timeline for new services

National Regulations, Regulations 55–56 ]

The approved provider must ensure that a QIP (or a Self-Assessment Working Document in NSW) is prepared for a new service within three months of the service approval being granted, and must provide the QIP to the regulatory authority on request. Approved providers should ensure an up-to-date QIP is uploaded to the National Quality Agenda IT System portal or via any other jurisdiction specific submission process. The regulatory authority will use the uploaded QIP for assessment and rating purposes.

Update the plan: requirements for existing services

The QIP is designed to be a dynamic, evolving document which enables continuous improvement, self-assessment and self-reflection. Approved providers should ensure an up-to-date QIP is uploaded to the National Quality Agenda IT System portal or via any other jurisdiction specific submission process. The regulatory authority will use the uploaded QIP for assessment and rating purposes.

Review the plan annually

National Regulations, Regulation 56 ]

The approved provider must review and revise the QIP at least annually, having regard to the NQS, and at any time when directed by the regulatory authority. Approved providers should ensure an up-to-date QIP is uploaded to the National Quality Agenda IT System portal or via any other jurisdiction specific submission process. The regulatory authority will use the uploaded QIP for assessment and rating purposes. The provider must submit the most current copy of the QIP to the regulatory authority on request. 

Developing the QIP

Visit the ACECQA website (acecqa.gov.au) to download an optional QIP template. Approved providers can use an alternate format however information required under regulation 55 must be included.

When writing the QIP, providers should reflect on the outcomes of the self-assessment process. Services may prioritise areas for improvement against the seven (7) quality areas of the NQS and the related regulatory requirements. There is no requirement that all 15 standards and 40 elements are addressed in the QIP. The QIP should include the key areas for improvement.

Services may have a range of documents that assist and record the planning process. The QIP is a summary of the key areas prioritised for improvement.

Collaborate when developing the plan

Developing the service’s plan can be a collaborative process which involves children, families, educators, staff members, management and other interested parties, such as representatives of the community or agencies that work with the service to support the inclusion of children.

Update the plan after assessment and rating

It is recommended the QIP is updated after the assessment and rating process is completed to reflect the outcomes of the assessment and rating process.

Keep a current QIP at the service and make it available to families and regulators

National Regulations, Regulation 31 ]

A service approval is granted subject to the condition that the approved provider ensure a current QIP is kept on the premises of the service at all times or, in the case of a family day care service, at the principal office of the family day care service.

The QIP must also be available on request for inspection by the regulatory authority and to parents of a child who is enrolled or who is seeking to enrol at the service.

3. The rating system

National Law & Regulations, Section 153 Regulations 57–62, 172(d), 173A ]

The rating levels under the National Law and Regulations are:

  • Excellent rating (the criteria for this rating level is determined by ACECQA)
  • Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard
  • Significant Improvement Required.

Services that have not been assessed and rated hold the provisional rating of ‘Provisional – Not Yet Assessed’.

The rating certificate must be displayed at the approved education and care service at all times. A ratings certificate, which outlines the overall rating of the service and the current rating levels for each quality area, must also be clearly visible from the main entrance at each FDC residence or venue used to provide education and care to children as part of a family day care service. 

What do the ratings mean

National Quality Standard

Assessment process

National Regulations, Regulation 63 ]

Under the National Regulations, for a first full assessment and rating, an authorised officer of the regulatory authority conducts an assessment and rating visit:

  • of the service premises at a centre-based service
  • of one or more approved family day care venues or residences for a family day care service.

As part of the assessment and rating process, the regulatory authority must consider:

  • the current QIP for the service
  • any rating assessment history of the service, including any records of previous rating assessments made under the National Law
  • the service’s history of compliance.

The regulatory authority may also consider a range of information when determining a rating, including:

  • information disclosed by a government department, public or local authority, state or territory regulatory authority or the relevant Commonwealth department
  • steps taken by the service to address matters identified during the rating assessment
  • other quality assurance or registration process under an education law applicable to the service
  • in the case of a service that provides education and care to children in their year before school, whether the service facilitates access to a preschool program.

Reassessment process

National Law & Regulations, Sections 138-140, Regulations 63 (3), 66-67 ]

A regulatory authority may choose to reassess a service once it has been assessed and rated. Reassessments may be full reassessments or a reassessment of any aspect or element of the service (a partial reassessment). A reassessment may or may not involve a site visit. When reassessing a service, the regulatory authority may consider any of the information it would consider as part of a first assessment and rating. The regulatory authority may also consider any changes made to the service since the last assessment.

Partial reassessments 

Regulatory authorities use partial reassessments as one method of assessing the quality of education and care provided by services. Partial reassessments are a valuable tool to facilitate risk-based regulatory efforts and enable accurate and current information about services’ quality ratings for families and the community.

Partial reassessments may typically be used by a regulatory authority:

  • In response to trends and risks identified in the sector or within a service. These may, for example, be identified through monitoring of compliance and/or in response to complaints or relevant notifications.
  • To apply more targeted quality assessment and rating for services that have earned this approach through demonstrated consistent compliance and high quality over a sustained period
  • If there are changes to a service since it was last assessed (including changes in a service’s operations, management, leadership or physical environment). These may be identified, for example, through relevant notifications to the regulatory authority.

Where appropriate to do so, a partial reassessment may be undertaken without a visit by the regulatory authority to the service (via a desktop review). A desktop review would be appropriate where the required evidence includes documentation for sighting or discussions that can be conducted virtually. If the authorised officer needs to observe practice to collect evidence to inform a rating, then a physical visit will be required.

Procedure for partial reassessments

Partial reassessments can only be undertaken on services that have already been fully assessed and rated under the current NQS. Services that have not been assessed and rated and services that were assessed and rated under the previous NQS (2012 version) are unable to be partially reassessed.

The regulatory authority can choose to add more areas to a partial reassessment at any time during the reassessment process, including during any visit. The regulatory authority and approved provider may discuss whether additional areas of the NQS should be reassessed as part of the reassessment. The regulatory authority's scheduling of assessment and rating visits, including partial reassessments initiated by the approved provider or the regulatory authority, is influenced by many factors. For more information about scheduling, refer to the 'Frequency of the assessment and rating cycle' section. 

Regulatory authorities consider the methodology for how ratings are calculated under the NQS when considering how broad a focus a partial reassessment should have. For example, when considering a ‘not met’ element, it may be appropriate for a regulatory authority to gather evidence that may be pertinent across all elements of the parent standard, to determine the rating for the standard. This is because, if all elements are found to be met (even if one or more of those elements was found to be met at a prior assessment and rating), evidence against the Exceeding themes would need to be considered in determining the standard’s new rating.

Determining ratings after a partial reassessment

After carrying out a partial reassessment, the regulatory authority will determine the ratings relevant to the partial reassessment. Previously determined ratings are carried forward for the remaining ratings. First and second tier reviews are only available for the ratings that were determined as part of the partial reassessment. The ratings certificate will include ratings from the partial reassessment and any other ratings that were carried forward from a previous assessment, and the overall rating.

Regulatory oversight

Regulatory authorities maintain oversight of providers and their services in a variety of ways to assess and promote compliance with the National Law and Regulations. These may include physical visits, interviews, phone calls, emails, video conference, etc.

All of these forms of activity provide regulatory authorities with information about the quality of education and care provided to children and interactions with families.

All types of visits may be organised at short notice or without notice, and may focus on any aspect of service delivery under the NQF.

The form of activity is chosen by regulators based on an assessment of risk and the purpose of the contact, and may include a compliance visit, a partial assessment and rating, a full assessment and rating, or other regulatory activities.

Steps in the assessment and rating process

For a partial reassessment, the regulatory authority will use the most current version of the QIP that has been submitted. As part of the regulatory authority’s process, the authorised officer will analyse the available information about the service, including reviewing the compliance and rating history.

The following table outlines the steps and timelines in the assessment and rating process, including in relation to full and partial reassessments. The primary differences in process between an initial assessment and rating versus a reassessment are that:

  • the first assessment and rating will always involve a visit to the service and will involve an assessment of all seven quality areas; and
  • the service approval letter will explain that the service will need to prepare the QIP within 3 months. The first assessment and rating will typically occur within 9 - 18 months of operations commencing. It is expected that the provider will ensure the current version of the QIP is submitted to the regulatory authority via the National Quality Agenda IT System portal or via any other jurisdiction specific submission process.

These timeframes are guidelines only.

Timeline

Step

Process

Week 1

A.  Notice to approved provider of assessment and rating

Approved provider is generally notified the assessment and rating visit (or conversation) will occur within 1-5 days. The notification may also include:

  • the purpose of the assessment and rating process
  • that the authorised officer will advise of any assessment and rating visit date
  • guidance on how to source information on the assessment and rating process
  • a request for the approved provider or their key contact person (usually a nominated supervisor) to be available at specific times during a visit, for example at the beginning and the end.

 

 

For family day care services, a visit will include attending the principal office of the family day care service and a sample of educators. The authorised officer will give notice of the educator sample to be visited either on the day of a visit or up to five days before a visit occurs. The provider may be asked to submit their family day care register to support this decision.

Weeks 1 to 2

B. Visit occurs

The authorised officer conducts any assessment visit and records observations and evidence. The authorised officer gathers evidence through a combination of observe, sight and discuss methods. If observations of practice are not required, this information may be gathered through sight and discuss methods.  

The authorised officer may provide details about post-visit opportunities to provide information (including if the key contact persons are unavailable on the visit day).

The authorised officer may give some general feedback at the time of the visit but will not give an indication of the service rating. 

The authorised officer also gives the approved provider, at the time of assessment or as soon as practicable afterwards, an indication of any minor adjustments that may be made at the service before the draft assessment and rating report is issued to the approved provider.

Any minor adjustments made by the service are included on the authorised officer’s notes and in the assessment and rating report.

 

C. After the visit

The authorised officer analyses the information gathered through the assessment and rating process, including whether there was any evidence of inconsistent practice at the service.

The authorised officer may arrange the collection of additional sight and discuss evidence by phone, email or video conference. 

The authorised officer prepares the draft report with the proposed ratings. The authorised officer also:

  • addresses any issues that need to be attended to immediately as a result of a risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children
  • clarifies any identified non-compliance
  • informs the service that a draft report with ratings for all quality areas and an overall rating will be provided approximately three to five weeks after the visit, and that the provider will have 10 working days to provide feedback.

Approx. 3–5 weeks after a visit

D. Draft report

The approved provider is issued the draft report and covering letter. The covering letter includes the contact details of the regulatory authority for providing feedback on any factual inaccuracies in the report and providing evidence to support their feedback. It also states that the draft report will become the final report if no feedback is received within ten (10) working days.

 

E. Consider feedback

The regulatory authority considers feedback received from the approved provider.

Approx. 8 weeks after a visit 

F. Final report

The report is finalised, the final ratings are determined and the notice of final ratings is issued to the approved provider. The regulatory authority informs the approved provider and provides information about the review process, including:

  • requests for a review must be lodged within 14 days of the approved provider’s receipt of the report
  • details of the person to whom a review application is made (name and address)
  • what can/cannot be reviewed
  • the review timeline.

The approved provider has 14 days to apply for a first tier review. The 14 day period commences:

  • from the day the rating notice is sent if provided electronically
  • from the fourth day after the rating notice was posted.

Before the assessment and rating visit

Before the visit, the approved provider determines who should be the key contact person. For example, this may be the approved provider themselves, a person in a management or control or a nominated supervisor.

National Regulations, Regulation 63 ]

Authorised officers will gain an understanding of the service before the visit by conducting a desktop review. For first full assessment and ratings, this review must include the service’s QIP (or self-assessment in NSW), assessment history and compliance history. Regulatory authorities will also review the service's QIP, assessment history and compliance history for reassessments. This desktop review contributes to the plan authorised officers develop for the visit.

Assessment and rating visit length

As a guide, it is expected that full assessment and rating visits for centre-based services will be for at least six (6) hours. There may be circumstances where this is not adhered to due to the size and configuration of the centre-based service.

For services providing multiple types of outside school hours care (e.g. before/after and vacation), it is likely that not all types of care will be visited in the assessment and rating process.

For family day care services, assessment and rating visits generally involve visits to:

  • the service (scheme/coordination unit) at the beginning and or end of the assessment and rating visit
  • a sample of one or more approved family day care venues or family day care residences. The regulatory authority will determine the sample from the register of family day care educators.

Frequency of the assessment and rating cycle

When regulatory authorities schedule quality rating assessments, the goal is to assess and rate the quality of services, drive continuous improvement and keep information for families and communities accurate and up to date.

To focus resources on services most in need of service improvement, the actions of regulatory authorities are responsive and risk-based. Services with a lower quality rating will be re-rated more frequently. Services with higher quality ratings will generally have a longer period of time between assessment and rating visits in recognition of their ability to operate above the NQS. Regulatory authorities may also schedule a service for a partial reassessment based on risk. 

Regulatory authorities consider the following factors when managing assessment and rating schedules, including for partial reassessments instigated by the approved provider or the regulatory authority:

  • The quality rating of a service when previously assessed, including results against the quality area, standard and element level – for example, services with three to five quality areas rated at Working Towards NQS may be reassessed more frequently than services with one or two quality areas rated at Working Towards NQS. Similarly, services rated Working Towards NQS in certain Standards, or for a higher number of Standards may also be reassessed more frequently.
  • A change in service attributes that could be reasonably considered to affect the service’s quality – for example, changes in provider or service management.
  • Changes in quality ratings over time. 
  • Events that occur at the service – for example, serious incidents, complaints or non-compliance with the National Law can indicate a change in quality and a higher scheduling priority. Unremedied breaches and patterns of non-compliance can also indicate a higher scheduling priority. 
  • Indicators that a service is failing to notify the regulatory authority of complaints or incidents. 
  • If the quality rating of the service conflicts with recent compliance history for a service. 
  • The length of time since the last monitoring or assessment visit.
  • Service size - given larger services can have an impact on more children.

Each regulatory authority manages its assessment schedule in a responsive manner, making adjustments to the schedule as new information emerges and making best use of available resources.

4. How is an assessment and rating visit conducted?

Evidence collection

Authorised officers are trained to use ‘observe’, ‘discuss’ and ‘sight’ techniques to gather information and evidence that supports assessment of the service against the NQS, and the National Law and National Regulations.

 

Observe. The authorised officer may observe children, families, educators, directors, co-ordinators and staff members as part of the service’s practices.

 

Discuss. The authorised officer may discuss the service’s practices with the key contact person, educators, directors, co-ordinators, family day care educator assistants or staff members.

 

Sight. The authorised officer may sight documentation required by the National Law and Regulations, and other documentation as evidence of the service’s practices.

For more guidance on how the elements of the NQS may be assessed, see the National Quality Standard.

Communication before and after the visit 

The authorised officer may contact the provider of the service before and/or after an assessment and rating visit. This contact may be for example, by phone, video conference or email. The authorised officer may use this opportunity to discuss the service's practices, or request to sight documentation. 

Communication during the visit

When visiting a service, the authorised officer(s) introduces themselves to the key contact person and explains what to expect in an assessment and rating visit, including how they will gather evidence (by observing, discussing and sighting evidence). Typically, the authorised officer will ask for a brief tour of the service and to be introduced to educators and staff.

During the visit, authorised officers will try to minimise disruption to practice, unless there is a significant risk to children.

Authorised officers may:

  • inform the key contact person when taking breaks
  • provide the key contact person with broad verbal feedback, but they cannot give an indication of the rating at this time
  • advise of any matters where they can offer the Minor Adjustment Policy, and the timeframe to fix the issue/s.

The assessment and rating process is an important opportunity for providers to demonstrate how the service is delivering quality outcomes against the NQS for children in the context of the service, families and community.

The authorised officer should inform the service that a draft report with ratings for all quality areas and an overall rating will be provided approximately three to five weeks after the visit, and that the approved provider will have 10 working days to provide feedback on any inaccuracies in the report.

Reassessments may also be undertaken without a visit, if the evidence to be considered does not include observations of practice. 

How are ratings determined?

National Law & Regulations, Section 152, Regulations 57–62 ]

After an assessment and rating visit occurs, the regulatory authority will:

  • consider evidence provided by the approved provider where there have been minor adjustments
  • determine the ratings, including assessing inconsistent practice where applicable.

The regulatory authority determines ratings by assessing each element of the NQS. Each standard and quality area is then rated. The overall rating is calculated based on these results.

Services must be rated Exceeding in all quality areas of the NQS to be eligible to apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating.

Assessing elements

The authorised officer will assess each element as met or not met.

Assessing standards

The authorised officer will assess the evidence against each standard.

  • If any element under a standard is not met, the rating for that standard will be Working Towards NQS.
  • If all elements are met, the authorised officer will determine whether service practice for each standard represents what is expected at the Meeting level (Meeting NQS) or represents a level of quality above what is required at the Meeting level (Exceeding NQS).
  • Each standard will be rated at either Meeting NQS or Exceeding NQS.

The following three themes must be demonstrated in service practice for a standard to be rated as Exceeding NQS:

Theme 1. Practice is embedded in service operations

Theme 2. Practice is informed by critical reflection


Theme 3. Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community.

See Exceeding theme guidance for more information.

Determining quality area ratings

After the authorised officer has assessed each standard, the quality area ratings are calculated.

  • If any standard within a quality area has been rated as Working Towards NQS, the rating for the quality area will be Working Towards NQS.
  • If all standards within a quality area are rated at least Meeting NQS, the rating for that quality area will be at least Meeting NQS.
  • If all standards within a quality area are rated Exceeding NQS, the rating for the quality area will be Exceeding NQS.
  • If all standards within a quality area are rated at least Meeting NQS, but not all standards are rated Exceeding NQS, the rating for the quality area will be Meeting NQS.

Determining overall service ratings

  • If any quality area has been rated as Working Towards NQS, the overall service rating cannot be higher than Working Towards NQS.
  • If all quality areas are at least Meeting NQS and four or more quality areas are rated as Exceeding NQS, with at least two of these being quality areas 1, 5, 6, or 7, the overall rating will be Exceeding NQS.
  • Services rated Exceeding NQS in all seven quality areas are eligible to apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating.

The Significant Improvement Required rating

A rating of Significant Improvement Required can be applied at the standard and quality area level. If a rating of Significant Improvement Required is given for any standard or quality area, the overall service rating is Significant Improvement Required.

How quality rating levels are determined

The following table demonstrates how the authorised officer determines ratings by assessing each element against the NQS to determine if it is met or not met. This information is then used to rate each standard and quality area to determine the overall rating.

Task

Rating Levels

 

Significant Improvement Required

Working Towards National Quality Standard

Meeting National Quality Standard

Exceeding National Quality Standard

1. Assess each element as ‘met’ or ‘not met’

Assess each element as ‘met’ or ‘not met’ and determine compliance with the relevant regulations.

2. Rate each standard

A Significant Improvement Required rating may be given for a standard and/or quality area.
See below.

Service does not meet one or more elements or relevant regulations for the standard.

The service does not meet the standard.

All elements and relevant regulations for the standard are 'met'.

The service does not demonstrate the three Exceeding themes for the standard.

The standard is rated Meeting NQS

All elements and relevant regulations for the standard are 'met'.

The service demonstrates the three Exceeding themes for the standard:

  1. Practice is embedded in service operations
  2. Practice is informed by critical reflection
  3. Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

    The standard is rated Exceeding NQS.

See Exceeding theme guidance for more information.

3. Rate each quality area

Service does not meet that quality area or a relevant regulation for that quality area and the regulatory authority is satisfied there is a significant risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child or children being educated and cared for by the service.

Service does not meet a standard in that quality area or a relevant regulation for that quality area but is not rated as Significant Improvement Required (regulation 60(1)).

Service meets the standards and relevant regulations for that quality area (regulation 61(1)).

Some standards may be rated Exceeding in the quality area.

Service exceeds the standards for that quality area and complies with the relevant regulations for that quality area (regulation 62(1)), subject to the following criteria:

Criteria 1

If a service provides education and care for children who are in the year that is 2 years before grade 1 of school, the service can only be rated Exceeding NQS in Quality Area 1 if the service either:

  • provides a preschool program, or
  • has a documented arrangement with an approved provider of another education and care service to provide a preschool program and informs parents of this arrangement (regulation 62(2)).

Criteria 2

To be rated Exceeding NQS in a quality area:

  • All standards in the quality area must be rated Exceeding NQS.

4.Determine overall rating

Overall rating is Significant Improvement Required if the service is rated Significant Improvement Required for any quality area (regulation 59(2)).

Overall rating is Working Towards NQS if any quality areas are rated Working Towards NQS but the service does not have a Significant Improvement Required rating for any quality area (regulation 60(2)).

Overall rating is Meeting NQS if all quality areas are rated Meeting NQS and/or Exceeding NQS but the service does not satisfy the requirements of regulation 62 for an overall Exceeding NQS rating (regulation 61(2)).

Overall rating is Exceeding NQS if all quality areas are rated at least Meeting NQS, and four or more quality areas are Exceeding NQS, with at least two of these being quality areas 1, 5, 6 or 7.

5. Making minor adjustments

National Regulations, Regulation 63(2)(b) ]

The regulatory authority may consider any information available to them about any steps taken by the education and care service to rectify any matters identified during the rating assessment.

A service rating should accurately reflect service quality. Minor matters that do not seriously impact on a service’s quality may not affect the rating if they are able to be rectified quickly and easily. There may be some circumstances in which the regulatory authority gives an approved provider the opportunity to make minor adjustments prior to finalising a service’s assessment report and overall rating. If a minor adjustment could result in an individual element being assessed as ‘met’ instead of ‘not met’, the regulatory authority should consider offering a minor adjustment, even if other elements in the standard are ‘not met’.

The regulatory authority may give an approved provider a short time to make these minor adjustments in the following circumstances.

Circumstances in which minor adjustments may be offered

There is no unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children

The quality of service provided is minimally impacted

Rectification can take place quickly and easily

The matters to be adjusted are minor

Elements that have been assessed as not met are elements where a minor adjustment could result in the element being met. The service may receive a higher rating against a standard if the issue is rectified

The changes required involve simple, concrete solutions that can be implemented within the specified timeframe (e.g. within days of the assessment and rating visit, preferably immediately, unless otherwise specified by the regulatory authority).

At the time of the assessment or soon after, the regulatory authority will inform the approved provider of the opportunity to make minor adjustments and provide evidence of those adjustments before the draft assessment and rating report is provided. The regulatory authority assesses whether the evidence provided demonstrates that an element assessed as ‘not met’ during the assessment and rating visit is now considered to be ‘met’.

The approved provider’s evidence must satisfy the regulatory authority that appropriate corrective action has been taken without the need to make a subsequent assessment and rating visit to the service. Examples of evidence could include:

  • photographs (e.g. to demonstrate that a physical hazard has been removed or fixed, or to demonstrate that an item of documentation is now being displayed at the service)
  • copies of revised written policies or procedures
  • a record indicating that information has been provided to families attending the service (such as an email).

The evidence must satisfy the regulatory authority that the issue has been fully rectified. Evidence provided after the regulatory authority has issued the draft report to the approved provider for feedback will generally not be considered.

An approved provider may choose not to make minor adjustments, or not to provide evidence of minor adjustments, in which case the regulatory authority will draft the service’s assessment report and rating based on the circumstances of the service at the time of the assessment and rating visit.

Providing evidence to demonstrate that an issue has been rectified does not guarantee that the service will be assessed as having met the relevant element or standard.

The right to review

An approved provider cannot request a review of a decision made by the regulatory authority to apply the minor adjustments policy.

Assessing inconsistent quality

The term ‘inconsistent quality’ refers to situations where different levels of service quality are identified at an assessment and rating visit, including in different rooms, sessions, residences or venues or between different educators in the one room. The experiences of children within particular age groups or specific rooms within a service may be significantly different from what has been identified across the service. For example, experiences of some children in the service may be consistently below the NQS.

The final rating should take into consideration the impact this inconsistent quality has on the experiences of each child in the service.

The following flow chart provides guidance to authorised officers about assessing inconsistent quality.

Inconsistent quality chart

6. Waivers

The impact of waivers on the assessment and rating process

A service granted a waiver can still achieve ratings of Meeting National Quality Standard and Exceeding National Quality Standard. For the purposes of an assessment, the service is either taken to comply or not required to comply with the requirements of the National Regulations that are covered by the waiver (see Applications and Approvals).

7. Evidence of non-compliance

Compliance issues identified through the assessment and rating process

In some cases where an element is not met, this may relate to non-compliance with the National Law and Regulations. The identified compliance issues may be reflected in the assessment and rating report and compliance action may be taken in parallel to the assessment and rating process (see Regulatory Authority Powers).

8. Significant Improvement Required

National Regulations, Regulation 59 ]

A rating of Significant Improvement Required can be applied at standard and quality area level. If a rating of Significant Improvement Required is given for any standard or quality area, the overall service rating is Significant Improvement Required.

Using the Significant Improvement Required rating

The Significant Improvement Required rating may be given when an authorised officer (in consultation with their manager) is satisfied that the service does not meet a standard, quality area, or relevant regulation for that quality area in a way that poses: ‘a significant risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child or children being educated and cared for by the service’ (regulation 59).

A significant risk is more likely to arise when there is non-compliance with the physical environment, children’s health and safety, or staffing requirements, but it could arise in other parts of the NQS. For example, poor educational programming requirements could pose a significant risk to the wellbeing of a child or children given the implications for children’s learning and development.

Determining ‘significant risk’ to a child or children

Authorised officers must always make a case-by-case assessment (in consultation with their manager) of whether there is a ‘significant risk to a child or children. Authorised officers may draw on a risk matrix to assist in determining the level of risk present and the appropriate course of action to address the risk. Further guidance on assessing risk is available in Good Regulatory Practice.

Risk Matrix

Consequences

Likelihood

 

Rare

Unlikely

Possible

Likely

Almost Certain

Major

Moderate

High

High

Critical

Critical

Significant

Moderate

Moderate

High

High

Critical

Moderate

Low

Moderate

Moderate

High

High

Minor

Very low

Low

Moderate

Moderate

Moderate

Insignificant

Very low

Very low

Low

Moderate

Moderate

 

If the authorised officer determines that a ‘high’ or ‘critical’ level of risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children is present as a result of service practice in a particular standard, quality area, or relevant regulation for that quality area, it is likely that further action would be taken.

Where an authorised officer identifies an issue that constitutes a significant risk, the authorised officer (in consultation with their manager) will need to decide whether it is appropriate to continue the visit. In the case that the assessment and rating visit is stopped, the authorised officer should ensure the decision to stop the visit is documented. If the risk can be satisfactorily addressed at the time of the visit, the assessment and rating visit may continue. The regulatory authority may choose to give the Significant Improvement Required rating for the standard or quality area where the risk was identified.

In general, authorised officers should seek to complete assessment and rating visits to ensure that sufficient evidence is gathered to allow the service to be rated against every standard. This also ensures that all major compliance issues at the service are identified. Regulatory authorities are required to give a rating for every quality area, even if one quality area is rated as Significant Improvement Required.

The assessment and rating process may only be suspended if the regulatory authority decides to take one of the actions outlined under section 137 of the National Law.