Project guidelines

Guidelines for Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project.

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Background and purpose

The NSW Department of Education (the department) is inviting services to participate in the Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project (Project). The purpose of the Project is to explore formative assessment tools that can complement existing practices in NSW early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to support all children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes.

The department is committed to working in partnership with the ECEC sector and would like to draw on the experience and expertise of the sector to ensure a best practice approach is adopted.

The key objectives of the Project are to:

  • inform the department’s approach to the 2025 national trial of the Preschool Outcomes Measure (POM)
  • determine what resources and supports will help to uplift and sustain effective formative assessment practices across all NSW ECEC services
  • explore formative assessment tools that can complement existing teaching and learning practices in NSW ECEC services.

The department is the primary agency responsible for administering this project.

The POM, is a key reform of the Preschool Reform Agreement (PRA). A National trial of the POM will occur in 2025 – separate to this Project. Find out more about the POM and national trial at the Australian Government Department of Education.

Project overview

The department is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from a diverse range of NSW ECEC services, to participate in this Project.

Eligible services selected to be part of the Project will be allocated formative assessment tools to use as part of their educational program and practice.

Services will receive professional learning support to enhance teacher and educator understanding of assessment practices in general and tailored support in the use of formative assessment tools.

Participating teachers and educators will also contribute to an evaluation throughout the project, enabling active participation in shaping a best practice approach to assessment for the NSW ECEC sector.

About formative assessment

Formative assessment is an ongoing and integral part of the assessment and planning cycle used by teachers and educators in their everyday practice under the National Quality Standard, Quality Area 1 (Standard 1.3), and the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0.

Formative assessment allows teachers and educators to gather and interpret information about a child’s learning, development and wellbeing. This informs teaching strategies and enables teachers and educators to design learning experiences that support best outcomes for children.

When used effectively, formative assessment strategies can document the different pathways that children take in their learning journeys and make the process of learning visible to children and their families, educators and other professionals.

Eligibility criteria

Services that provide a preschool program for children in the year before they start full time school may be eligible to participate in the Project. This includes public preschools, community preschools and long day care services.

The department will assess applications based on the following eligibility criteria. Please note, due to the limited number of places available, submission of an EOI does not guarantee inclusion in the Project.

To participate, approved services must meet the below eligibility criteria.

  1. Be an approved education and care service under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and Education and Care Services National Regulations (Regulations).
  2. Be delivering a preschool program in 2024 for children in the year before school designed by a degree-qualified Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) in accordance with the requirements under the National Quality Framework. This includes public preschools, community preschools and long day care (LDC) services.
  3. Have a current quality rating against the National Quality Standard. Services rated Significant Improvement Required or Not Yet Assessed are ineligible to apply.
  4. Submit an EOI application by Monday 20 May 2024.
  5. Have accepted the Early Childhood Education Grants Program Funding Agreement – Terms and Conditions (1 January – 31 December 2024) (LDC and community preschool providers only).
  6. Should not have an unresolved compliance matter with the NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority. (If a service does, this may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.)
  7. Be willing and have the capacity to dedicate up to two ECT’s and/or early childhood educators to participate in all Project activities, including evaluation activities.
    (The department reserves the right to use its discretion for smaller-sized services where only one ECT/educator is available. These applications will be assessed on an individual basis. Small services are encouraged to apply).

Assessment criteria

The department will assess applications and determine suitability to participate in the Project based on eligibility criteria outlined above.

Only eligible applications will progress to assessment against the assessment criteria below in line with these guidelines and the overarching Project objectives.

The submission of an application does not guarantee participation in the Project.

Services that meet one or more of the assessment criteria will be given priority in the assessment process. Applications may be competitively assessed against the assessment criteria outlined below:

  • number of enrolled children in the year before school
  • services with high proportion of children in the year before school with a language background other than English, in 2024
  • services with high proportion of children in the year before school who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in 2024
  • services with a high proportion of children in the year before school with a disability and/or additional needs in 2024
  • services that operate in a regional, rural and/or remote location or in a disadvantaged area (SA2) with a low SEIFA classification
  • other prioritisation categories that reflect and support the purpose and intended objective of the project.

Key dates and project details

Activity Date
EOI opens Tuesday 7 May 2024
EOI closes Monday 20 May 2024
Applications assessed 21-31 May 2024
Notification of outcome From Monday 3 June 2024
Project duration Monday 3 June - December 2024

The Project will consist of 5 stages:

1. Application process

  • Estimated completion time of EOI application form: approximately 30 minutes.
  • Submit an EOI application online via SmartyGrants.
  • Technical support is available to assist with completing an EOI. Please contact
  • The evidence to support the services’ application is contained in the EOI application form.

2. Assessment process

  • The department will assess the applications in accordance with these Guidelines, including assessing against the assessment criteria referred to above.

3. Onboarding

  • The department will provide services with a welcome package containing further information, including details on the formative assessment tools.
  • An approximate time commitment of up to 4 hours for this stage.
  • Participants must complete the following by the date advised by the department:
    • complete and return a Funding Agreement (2024 Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project Terms of Agreement (Terms of Agreement) and these Guidelines) and an initial evaluation survey
    • ensure service details are up to date in ECCMS (LDC services and community preschools only)
    • participate in a webinar providing an overview of the Project and details on the use of the tools
    • obtain parental consent for every child who will be involved in the Project
    • confirm the service has the relevant consents for the children to be assessed using the formative assessment tools (up to 5 children per teacher/educator).

4. Implementation

  • Participants that complete the onboarding stage will be given access to the formative assessment tools and all accompanying resources for the remainder of the Project.
  • Requires an approximate time commitment of up to 28 hours for this stage.
  • During this stage participants are required to:
    • create service and teacher/educator specific login accounts for the tools
    • become familiar with the support resources for the tools
    • participate in up to 3 webinars and attend up to 3 online Community of Practice sessions
    • create profiles for the agreed number of children as required by the tools
    • use the tools as specified to document and assess the learning and development for the agreed number of children who are in the year before school
    • engage in all relevant evaluation activities including but not limited to surveys, interviews, and workshops - details to be advised.
  • The department will provide ongoing support to all participants during the Project.

5. Completion

  • The final stage of the Project will require up to approximately 3 hours.
  • Participants are required to:
    • complete the Transition to School Digital Statement
    • engage in all relevant evaluation activities including but not limited to demographic information, surveys, interviews and workshops – details to be advised.

Ongoing evaluation

  • There will be a concurrent evaluation throughout the Project to help inform NSW’s approach to the national trial in 2025.
  • Participants must work with an evaluator (to be appointed by the department) to provide ongoing feedback on their experience in the Project, the tool and supports.
  • Participants agree to complete ongoing surveys and participate in interviews and workshops.
  • The department will not publish any learnings from the review. All outcomes and learnings will be used by the department to determine a formative assessment tool that complements existing teaching and learning practices in NSW ECEC services to support all children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes.
  • Any relevant outcomes from the review may be shared with participants and any relevant stakeholders.

Support package

NSW has developed a three-part support package for ECEC services participating in the Project, as set out below.

Financial support

Each service will receive up to $8,000 (ex GST) of funding as outlined in the Terms of Agreement which the Approved Provider and service must enter into.

Professional learning

Professional learning and support will be provided for each tool along with webinars and resources on topics such as:

  • assessment for learning in ECE and how this links with Quality Area 1 and the planning cycle of the National Quality Standard
  • how formative assessment aligns with everyday practice
  • how the formative assessment tool links with the Transition to School Statement.


Help-desk support will also be provided via

Conditions of participation

While participating in the Project, services must:

  • have accepted and comply with the Terms of Agreement
  • comply with regulatory requirements set out in the National Law and Regulations
  • ensure quality of practice and service delivery is not reduced
  • be willing and have the capacity to dedicate the required number of ECTs/educators
  • complete and submit relevant forms requested by the department, including data sharing agreements, privacy agreements, parental consent forms and financial accountability statement
  • have access to appropriate devices and reliable internet (as specified in the EOI application)
  • obtain parental consent for all children who will be included in the Project.

Spending rules

ECEC services that are successful must use the funding (up to $8,000 (ex GST)) to support participation in the Project and related evaluation activities, including but not limited to:

  • attending webinars
  • completing training – online and self-paced
  • attending workshops/Community of Practice sessions
  • administering the formative assessment tools
  • engaging in evaluation surveys, interviews and other related activities.

Funding can be used to:

  • pay salary and wages for ECTs and educators participating in the Project
  • backfill ECTs and educators participating in the Project.

Funds cannot be used for purposes outside of the Project.

The funds need to be expended by 31 December 2024.


The department will process payments through ECCMS for LDCs and community preschools, and public preschools will be paid via budget adjustment.

Each service must demonstrate continued engagement in the Project and evaluation activities, as outlined in the Terms of Agreement, to receive all funding.

The payments will be made to services during the 2024 calendar year.

For LDCs and community preschools, payments will only be processed in ECCMS once the service has accepted the Terms of Agreement.

A provider must return any unspent funds if their participation in the Project is terminated for any reason or for any reason in section 8.3 of the Terms and Conditions.

Financial Accountabilities and Reporting Requirements

In accordance with the Terms and Conditions and the Project Terms of Agreement, approved providers must submit a financial accountability for each individual service which has received funding, to provide assurance that public funds have been expended for their intended purpose.

Financial accountability is completed through ECCMS and approved providers will be notified when this is due. Further information is available in the  Financial Accountability Return Guide and on the Financial Accountability – Information for Services page.

Participating services may also be audited as part of the department’s annual audit.

Privacy and data protection

The department will protect all data received in accordance with security and privacy compliance guidelines. The department may use de-identified data for evaluation purposes.

Feedback and complaints

We like to hear when things have gone well so we can continue to provide more positive experiences. Services and providers can provide suggestions, concerns or feedback about this Project to the department, including complaints about the conduct of our staff, by following one of the steps below:


For information about the Project, please contact:

1800 619 113 or

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