National Quality Framework (NQF)
What is the National Quality Framework (NQF)?
The NQF introduced a new quality standard in 2012 to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours care services.
The NQF includes:
Benefits for children and families
Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education, and employment outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth, and capacity to learn. Quality education and care shapes every child’s future and lays the foundation for development and learning.
The major benefits for parents and children include:
- improved educator to child ratios, ensuring children have greater individual care and attention for children
- educators with increased skills and qualifications
- better support for children’s learning and development through approved learning frameworks
- consistent, transparent information on educators, providers, and services in the national registers
Starting Blocks provides parents with information about early childhood education and care to help them make the best choice for their child and family.
The National Quality Standard (NQS)
The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a high national benchmark for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services in Australia.
The NQS includes 7 quality areas that are important outcomes for children.
Services are assessed and rated by their regulatory authority against the NQS, and given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.
Quality Area 1 - Educational program and practice
Educational program and practice of educators are child-centred, stimulating and maximise opportunities for enhancing and extending each child’s learning and development.
The educational program enhances each child’s learning and development.
|Approved learning framework||Curriculum decision-making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.|
|Child-centred||Each child’s current knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities, and interests are the foundation of the program.|
|Program learning opportunities||All aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning.|
Educators facilitate and extend each child’s learning and development.
|Intentional teaching||Educators are deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.|
|Responsive teaching and scaffolding||Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and extend children’s learning through open-ended questions, interactions, and feedback.|
|Child directed learning||Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions that influence events and their world.|
Assessment and planning
Educators and coordinators take a planned and reflective approach to implementing the program for each child.
|Assessment and planning cycle||Each child’s learning and development is assessed or evaluated as part of an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection.|
|Critical reflection||Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, drives program planning and implementation.|
|Information for families||Families are informed about the program and their child’s progress.|
Quality Area 2 - Children's health and safety
Children have the right to experience quality education and care in an environment that safeguards and promotes their health, safety and wellbeing.
Each child’s health and physical activity is supported and promoted.
|Wellbeing and comfort||Each child’s wellbeing and comfort is provided for, including appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation.|
|Health practices and procedures||Effective illness and injury management and hygiene practices are promoted and implemented.|
|Healthy lifestyle||Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child.|
Each child is protected.
|Supervision||At all times, reasonable precautions and adequate supervision ensure children are protected from harm and hazard.|
|Incident and emergency management||Plans to effectively manage incidents and emergencies are developed in consultation with relevant authorities, practised and implemented.|
|Child protection||Management, educators and staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect.|
Quality Area 3 - Physical environment
Physical environment is safe, suitable and provides a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children’s learning and development.
The design of the facilities is appropriate for the operation of a service.
|Fit for purpose||Outdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures, and fittings are suitable for their purpose, including supporting the access of every child.|
|Upkeep||Premises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean, and well maintained.|
The service environment is inclusive, promotes competence, and supports exploration and play-based learning.
|Inclusive environment||Outdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child’s participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and
|Resources support play-based learning||Resources, materials and equipment allow for multiple uses, are sufficient in number, and enable every child to engage in play-based learning.|
|Environmentally responsible||The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.|
Quality Area 4 - Staffing arrangements
Qualified and experienced educators, who develop warm, respectful relationships with children, create predictable environments and encourage children’s active engagement in the learning program.
Staffing arrangements enhance children’s learning and development.
|Organisation of educators||The organisation of educators across the service supports children’s learning and development.|
|Continuity of staff||Every effort is made for children to experience continuity of educators at the service.|
Management, educators, and staff are collaborative, respectful and ethical.
|Professional collaboration||Management, educators and staff work with mutual respect and collaboratively, and challenge and learn from each other, recognising each other’s strengths and
|Professional standards||Professional standards guide practice, interactions, and relationships.|
Quality Area 5 - Relationships with children
Relationships with children are responsive, respectful and promote children’s sense of security and belonging.
Relationships between educators and children
Respectful and equitable relationships are maintained with each child.
|Positive educator to child interactions||Responsive and meaningful interactions builds trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident, and included.|
|Dignity and the rights of the child||The dignity and rights of every child are maintained.|
Relationships between children
Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships.
|Collaborative learning||Children are supported to collaborate, learn from, and help each other.|
|Self-regulation||Each child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.|
Quality Area 6 - Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Collaborative relationships with families are fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children, and community partnerships based on active communication, consultation and collaboration are essential.
Supportive relationships with families
Respectful relationships with families are developed and maintained and families are supported in their parenting role.
|Engagement with the service||Families are supported from enrolment to be involved in the service and contribute to service decisions.|
|Parent views are respected||The expertise, culture, values, and beliefs of families are respected, and families share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing.|
|Families are supported||Current information is available to families about the service and relevant community services and resources to support parenting and family wellbeing.|
Collaborative partnerships enhance children’s inclusion, learning and wellbeing.
|Transitions||Continuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by sharing information and clarifying responsibilities.|
|Access and participation||Effective partnerships support children’s access, inclusion, and participation in the program.|
|Community engagement||The service builds relationships and engages with its community.|
Quality Area 7 - Governance and leadership
Effective leadership and governance of the service contributes to quality environments for children’s learning and development. Effective leaders establish shared values for the service and set clear direction for the service’s continuous improvement.
Governance supports the operation of a quality service.
|Service philosophy and purpose||A statement of philosophy guides all aspects of the service’s operations.|
|Management systems||Systems are in place to manage risk and enable the effective management and operation of a quality service.|
|Roles and responsibilities||Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and understood, and support effective decision-making and operation of the service.|
Effective leadership builds and promotes a positive organisational culture and professional learning community.
|Continuous improvement||There is an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process in place.|
|Educational leadership||The educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle.|
|Development of professionals||Educators, co-ordinators and staff members’ performance is regularly evaluated, and individual plans are in place to support learning and development.|
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