Section 3: National Quality Standard and Assessment and Rating


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:


Educational program and practice


Children’s health and safety


Physical environment


Staffing arrangements


Relationships with children


Collaborative partnerships with families and communities


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 (

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.