Quality and regulations
Department preschools operate under the National Quality Framework which aims to raise quality, drive continuous improvement and provide better educational and developmental outcomes for children.
The important aspects of the NQF and its implementation are:
- the Education and Care Services National Law
- the Education and Care Services National Regulations
- the National Quality Standard (NQS)
- an assessment and quality rating process
- the national approved learning frameworks
- a regulatory authority in each state or territory that is responsible for the approval, monitoring and quality assessment of early childhood services. In NSW, the regulatory authority is the Early Childhood Education Directorate.
- a national body – Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), which guides the implementation of the National Quality Framework and works with regulatory authorities
Changes to the National Law and Regulations were introduced from 1 October 2017. A revised NQS will also commence on 1 February 2018. All department preschools must ensure that they are aware of and comply with the current law and regulations and the revised NQS. An updated guide to the NQF has been developed to help providers, educators and authorised officers understand the requirements of the NQF.
Quality improvement plans
The National Law and Regulations require all education and care services to have a quality improvement plan (QIP) and to keep it up to date. The purpose of a QIP is for a preschool to evaluate current practices through self-assessment, identifying strengths and then goals for quality improvement. The QIP needs to outline strategies for achieving the preschool's goals and will help all staff focus on improvements that will lead to better outcomes for children and families.
Authorised officers will review a service's QIP when assessing and rating a service or may request to view it at any time. The ACECQA and Early Childhood Education websites provide more information and resources about QIPs.
National Quality Standard
The National Quality Standard (NQS) is a benchmark for the quality of early childhood education and care services. A revised National Quality Standard will commence on 1 February 2018.
The seven quality areas in the standard that are important to outcomes for children are:
- educational program and practice
- children's health and safety
- physical environment
- staffing arrangements
- relationships with children
- collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- governance and leadership.
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).
Preschools are required to display their current rating.
- ACECQA has a range of videos, podcast and resources that explains the NQF to educators and families.
- Department preschools and the national regulations (PDF 103KB)
- What is quality? (PDF 47KB)
- Read Early Childhood Education's EC Extra Newsletter to stay up to date with what is happening in the early childhood education sector
- Starting Blocks provides parents and educators with information about early childhood education and care services