Assessment and rating

Information on the risk-based approach, assessment and rating, compliance and investigations and the National Quality Framework.

All relevant education and care services in NSW are regulated, assessed and rated under the same National Quality Framework (NQF). The NQF objectives are to ensure the health and safety of children in an education and care service, improve educational outcomes for these children and to promote continuous improvement in education and care services.

Assessment and rating visits

Under the NQF and as part of the continuous improvement process, services are subject to assessment and rating, which results in a service being given an overall quality rating, assessed against each of the National Quality Standards.

Quality practice positively impacts developmental and educational outcomes for children. Assessment and rating is an important measure and indicator of service practice quality and it is important that the observations made during assessment and rating reflect typical, everyday practice at the service.

If a key person with legal responsibility is not available on the assessment and rating visit day, that person can contribute via alternate means (phone or video call), before, during or within 5 days after the visit. Feedback on the assessment and rating draft report can also be provided by that person when it is received by the service.

Requests to postpone assessment and rating will be considered in exceptional circumstances in accordance with the Assessment and Rating Scheduling Policy (PDF 136 KB). Where the request is accepted, the service’s scheduled assessment and rating visit will be postponed and the service will receive 5 business days’ notice of the new visit date.

Inactive assessment and rating periods to support services

To support services to plan for assessment and rating, the below dates are inactive periods where assessment and rating visits will not be conducted other than to services that predominately operate during these periods (e.g. vacation care). Other regulatory visits and requests may still occur including requests to submit quality improvement or self-assessment documentation.

  • 18 December 2023 to 12 January 2024
  • 27 March 2024 to 3 April 2024
  • 1 July 2024 to 12 July 2024
  • 16 December 2024 to 10 January 2025
Early childhood education and care services sharing an overview of the assessment and rating process.

Hi, my name's Shane Snibson and I'm from the NSW Department of Education. We are the regulatory authority for early childhood education and care in NSW. The department regulates over 6,000 early childhood education and care services across the state. One of our core functions is to assess and rate services guided by the National Quality Framework. Assessment and rating is the process in which early childhood education and care services are assessed and rated by authorised officers against the National Quality Standard.

The National Quality Standard sets a benchmark to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of children and to improve educational outcomes for children in early childhood education and care services. Authorised officers give services a quality rating in each quality area and an overall service rating based on what they observe, cite, and discuss with services during a scheduled visit. Assessment and rating is an important part of supporting continuous quality improvement of services to ensure children have a quality education and care experience. It's an opportunity for services to reflect on their practice, examine why they do what they do, and how they can make further improvements. Quality ratings also help families to make decisions about early childhood education and care services by providing access to information about their service's practices so they can be confident their child is attending a quality service.

National improvements to assessment and rating

There are 2 key improvements occurring nationally to make assessment and rating more effective. These are important to ensure assessment and rating provides families with confidence around the accuracy and currency of quality ratings. Find out more in our resource on improvements to assessment and rating (PDF 253KB).

Since October 2023, the use of partial reassessments has significantly increased. Where appropriate, partial reassessments will continue to involve assessment of 2 or 4 quality areas, instead of all 7. When notified of assessment and rating services are advised whether their assessment is a partial reassessment or a full assessment. Services can nominate 1 quality area to be assessed in a partial reassessment.

From July 2024, the notice period for all assessment and rating visits will be reduced to 5 business days. Reduced notice periods promote assessment of the quality of education and care that children experience every day.

In January 2024, the online Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal was released to all services in NSW. The portal is a key tool to support your service’s continuous improvement journey and will support you to have a current self-assessment and quality improvement plan in place, when notified of assessment and rating.

For support on assessment and rating or the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal please contact our Continuous Improvement Team on 1800 619 113 or

Risk-based approach

The department applies a risk-based approach to all regulatory processes.

As children are vulnerable members of the community, their rights and best interests are paramount. Our priority is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services in NSW.

The department uses evidence to inform our planning and decision-making. When assessing the level of risk, we look at:

  • General risk: including our understanding of particular groups (such as different service types and entity types) within the early childhood education sector; and
  • Specific risk: including information about individual applicants or services.

By targeting our resources using a risk-based approach, we:

  • decrease regulatory burden to the sector, and
  • ensure our actions and processes are proportionate to the risks posed to children.

The determination of the risk level of a situation or applicant impacts the way the department monitors and regulates.

National Quality Framework

Most NSW services are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF). The department collaborates with other state and territory jurisdictions and the national authority, the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), to ensure a coherent approach to compliance under the National Law and Regulations across Australia

Early childhood education and care services detailing the assessment and rating process.

We know that high-quality, inclusive, and culturally appropriate early childhood education and care has positive outcomes for children and families. Assessment and rating is an important part of supporting continuous quality improvement of services to ensure children have a quality education and care experience.

So as an authorised officer, when we're at assessment and rating, we're confirming the key practice points in the self-assessment or the quality improvement plan, and that's done by having conversations at the service. We're observing practice or we're citing documentation. It's about bringing all that information together and then aligning it to the National Quality Standards.

The assessment and rating process was really positive for myself as an individual and for our service as well. We were able to showcase our strengths and really celebrate that. And it was so lovely to see the educators proud of their practice. The authorised officer made us feel really at ease throughout the whole process. Her communication was clear. She set out the expectation of the 2 days, and it was really great to receive some constructive feedback as well.

Information for educators

Our factsheets for educators provides information about assessment and rating including:

  • how you’ll be notified of an upcoming assessment and rating visit
  • how to prepare for a visit
  • what to expect during a visit.

Read the factsheet using the links below.


  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority
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