Exceeding guidance for Standard 3.1: Design


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:
    • supportive of the access and full participation of every child?
    • promoting and positively supporting children’s interaction with space, materials and each other?
    • contributing to a flexible and stimulating environment that enhances each child’s development and learning?
    • safe, clean and well-maintained at all times?
  • 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 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 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 on creating an inclusive, safe physical environment that strengthens children’s learning and development outcomes and enhances 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 participation, and to enhance children’s safety, learning and development outcomes?
    • remain aware of and able to discuss the theoretical influences 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 and community context of the service?
    • 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?