Quality and regulations

National Quality Framework

The National Quality Framework (NQF) supports the delivery of education and care for children. It provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood education and care services.

The NQF includes:

Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) guides the implementation of the National Quality Framework and works with regulatory authorities to ensure all early childhood education and care services comply with the current law and regulations and the NQS.

National Quality Standard

The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a benchmark for the quality of education and care services and includes seven quality areas that are important to outcomes for children.

These areas are:

  1. Education program and practice
  2. Children's health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Governance and leadership

Quality improvement plans

The National Law and Regulations require all education and care services to have a Quality improvement plan (QIP). This QIP template - staff only (DOCX 92KB) has been developed for use in department preschools. The preschool QIP addresses the Department?s third strategic goal of every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improving every year (2018-2022). Similar to the school plan, the QIP documents the outcomes of self-assessment processes and quality improvement planning.

The QIP:

  • outlines strategies for achieving a preschool's goals
  • helps staff focus on improvements that will lead to better outcomes for children and families
  • should be 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
  • assists regulatory authorities with assessing the quality of the preschool during assessment and rating visits.

In addition to assessing programs and practices against the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard, the QIP should also document and celebrate the preschool's strengths.

To support the development and implementation of the QIP see our department guidelines.

Assessment and rating

The rating system is designed to improve quality and drive improvement in education and care services. Early Childhood Education is responsible for assessment and rating in NSW.

Preschools are assessed and rated against each of the seven quality areas that make up the standard. They receive one of the following overall ratings:

  • 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).

Parents and carers can search for ratings on the ACECQA national register and Child Care Finder websites.

Preschools are required to display their current rating.

Exceeding the National Quality Standard

Three exceeding themes of practice are identified in the Guide to the National Quality Framework

  • Theme 1: Practice is embedded in service operations
  • Theme 2: Practice is informed by critical reflection
  • Theme 3: Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

Illustrations of practice

Our department preschools implement educational programs using the guiding principles and practices from the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). They also use the National Quality Standard (NQS) as a guide to informing quality pedagogy and practice in all seven quality areas.

A selection of innovative illustrations of practice can be viewed.

John Brotchie Nursery School - Bush school: learning in the outdoors. John Brotchie implements an outdoor education program based on the European forest school approach. The bush school program at John Brotchie enhances their preschool educational program and brings alive the principles and practices of the EYLF.

Lansvale Public School Preschool - Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL). Lansvale preschool shares their journey in the implementation of their PBL program in the preschool and how the framework enables children to develop clear understandings of expectations, become responsible for their own behaviour and work together to create a positive, caring and harmonious learning environment.

Leadership conference and inclusion forum

These annual events provide school leaders and educators from the department’s 101 preschools and 47 early intervention classes with opportunities for professional learning, collaboration and networking.

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