Safety and quality

All approved services in NSW are monitored, regulated, assessed and rated by the department to ensure children are kept safe and secure.

Quality childhood education and care

Childhood education and care services support the healthy development of children in their formative years. The quality of a service is an important consideration for families in choosing an education and care service that best meets their needs.

What Quality Ratings mean

It is a requirement of the National Quality Framework that children's education and care services are assessed and rated. The NSW Department of Education is the regulatory authority responsible for conducting these assessments. Quality ratings are given along a spectrum. An overall quality rating is given to each service, as well as a rating against each of the 7 Quality Areas that make up the National Quality Standard.

Ratings breakdown

Significant Improvement Required - Service does not meet 1 of the 7 quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is a significant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children. The regulatory authority will take immediate action.

Working Towards National Quality Standards - Service provides a safe education and care program, but there are one or more areas identified for improvement.

Meeting National Quality Standards - Service meets the National Quality Standard. Service provides quality education and care in all seven quality areas.

Exceeding National Quality Standards - Service goes beyond the requirements of the National Quality Standard in at least four of the seven quality areas.

Services are required to display their quality rating, providing families with important information about the service's strengths and areas for improvement.

Importantly, Quality Ratings are not a pass-or-fail system, they're designed to provide information about all aspects of the service and to promote continuous improvement.

NSW Quality Ratings Guide

The NSW Children's Education and Care Quality Ratings Guide provides user-friendly information.

The coloured star graphic gives 'at-a-glance' information to inform family choices about children's education and care.

Services are given a clear view of their National Quality Ratings in all areas, which promotes discussion on continuous quality improvement.

Quality Ratings and your family

The Department of Education's central priority is to ensure safety and quality within children's education and care services.

A robust National Quality Framework has been in place since 2012 to ensure the highest safety standards are in place for children attending these services.

The department works closely with the Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), an independent national authority, to implement the National Quality Framework (NQF). The ACECQA Board is accountable to the Education Council.

Long day care, preschools, outside school hours care and family day care are regulated under the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law and the Education and Care National Regulations.

Occasional care and mobile services operate under the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 No 70 and Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Regulation 2019.

Driving continuous improvement

The Quality Ratings Guide provides education and care services with a clear understanding of how their service quality measures against the National Quality Standard, and compared to other services.

Services will be required to display the graphic in a prominent place where parents can clearly see it and will be asked to provide rating information to parents and families at enrolment.

The NSW Government has committed $13 million over two years (2019 - 2021) to support continuous improvement for the sector.

Other resources

Further information and resources for families, educators and services on the National Quality Framework and Standard can be found at the ACECQA website.

The Early Years Learning Framework

Under the National Law and Regulations, services are required to base their educational program on an approved learning framework. This should focus on addressing the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child, while taking into account individual differences. There are 2 nationally approved learning frameworks which outline practices that support and promote children's learning:

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