Continuous improvement in the preschool
Department preschools engage in ongoing self-assessment and quality improvement planning against the National Quality Standard. This drives continuous improvement and is essential to achieving high quality learning outcomes for children and families.
National Quality Framework
Department preschools operate under the National Quality Framework (NQF) which provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement in early childhood services.
The NQF includes:
- Education and Care Services National Law which sets a national standard for early childhood services across Australia.
- Education and Care National Regulations which details the operational requirements for early childhood services.
- National Quality Standard (NQS) which sets a high national benchmark for the quality of early childhood services.
- Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) which is the national approved learning framework that is used to guide curriculum decision-making in early childhood services.
- Assessment and rating of early childhood services against the NQS by their state and territory regulatory authority.
The Leading and operating department preschool guidelines demonstrate the links between department policies and the NQF requirements, and support continuous improvement processes.
Assessment and rating
The national assessment and rating system is designed to improve quality and drive improvement in early childhood services. The NSW Regulatory Authority is responsible for assessment and rating of early childhood services in NSW, including department preschools.
Preschools are assessed and rated against the 7 quality areas of the NQS and receive an overall rating of:
- significant improvement required
- working towards the National Quality Standard
- meeting the National Quality Standard
- exceeding the National Quality Standard
- excellent (this rating may be awarded on application to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority).
The overarching goal of the assessment and rating process is to effectively influence and positively impact developmental and educational outcomes for children. Department preschools should always be ready for assessment and rating and think about it as an opportunity to showcase best practice in service delivery.
Preschools are required to display their current rating. Families can search for ratings on the ACECQA national registers.
Self-assessment and planning
Department preschools are required to have an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process in place. Self-assessment is a key component in the school planning and reporting cycle and informs the preschool Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).
Self-assessment is the process of evaluating and critically reflecting on current practice to recognise strengths and identify opportunities for improvement.
Effective self-assessment in preschools:
- provides an open, honest and informed picture of the preschool’s unique context, effectiveness of current practices and the quality of education and care experienced by children and families
- ensure regular monitoring and reviewing of performance to guide planning
- is fundamental to an effective cycle of continuous improvement and robust QIP.
The Self-Assessment and Planning app (SAaP)(staff only) is designed for department preschools to document the process of self-assessment and develop the preschool’s QIP. It supports preschools to meet legislative and quality standard requirements.
Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)
The National Law and Regulations require all education and care services to have a Quality Improvement Plan in place. Department preschools can use the Quality Improvement Plan template for department preschools (DOCX 104.4 KB) (staff only).
- is a dynamic, evolving document developed collaboratively by preschool teams with input from children, families, school staff and other agencies
- needs to be kept up to date, available on request by the regulatory authority and available to parents
- identifies practice strengths against the seven quality areas of the NQS
- documents quality improvement goals that improve outcomes for children and families
- outlines strategies for achieving a preschool's goals including responsibilities and timeframes
- is a key tool to support assessment and rating visits.
For further information on completing a QIP please refer to the following resources :
- How to write and review your quality improvement plan (DOCX 88.7 KB) (staff only)
- Preschool QIP: Key practice statements (DOCX 81.1 KB) (staff only)
- Preschool QIP: Improvement goals (DOCX 81.8 KB) (staff only)
- Curriculum links resources to support continuity of learning from preschool to school
- Professional learning to support preschool quality
- Early Learning matters podcast series – unpacks quality teaching and learning in the early years
- Early Learning leadership conference recordings (staff only)
- NSW Early Childhood Education – regulation and compliance