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
  • 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
  • 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.

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 children’s learning, development and wellbeing?
  • How do we ensure that children are 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.