Assessment and rating process

Assessment and rating fact sheet series

The Department has developed a series of four fact sheets to provide education and care services with information about the assessment and rating process. These documents mirror the stages of the process: the first provides background information about process, the second provides guidance to the education and care services that will be assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard, the third focuses on the visit to the education and care service and the final document outlines what happens after the assessment and rating visit has been completed.

  1. Assessment and rating ​process
  2. Preparing for the assessment and rating visit
  3. Assessment and rating visit
  4. After an assessment and rating visit

What is the assessment and rating process?

The assessment and rating process is an important feature of the National Quality Framework (NQF) which promotes high quality education and care services and quality outcomes for children. The features of the NQF include:

  • the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law)
  • the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations)
  • the National Quality Standard
  • the assessment and rating process.

Through the assessment and rating process, education and care services - preschools (kindergartens), long day care, outside school hours care and family day care services - are assessed against the National Quality Standard, the National Law and National Regulations.

Following an assessment and rating visit, services receive a draft assessment and rating report, including a rating against each of the seven quality areas and an overall rating. The ratings determined by the Department are:

  • Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard
  • Significant Improvement Required.

If the Department identifies that a service is operating in a way that places the safety, health and wellbeing of children at risk, the service will receive a rating of Significant Improvement Required. The Department will work with the service to resolve the relevant issues immediately.

Services that achieve an overall rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard may apply to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) to be considered for a rating of Excellent. The application form is available at: apply

Who carries out the assessment and rating visit?

Responsibility for administering the NQF is shared between Regulatory Authorities and ACECQA. In Victoria the Department of Education and Training (Department) is the Regulatory Authority whose authorised officers undertake assessment and rating visits to education and care services.

Timelines for the assessment and rating process

The following table outlines the assessment and rating process:

Week 1

Notice of visit

  • The approved provider receives a letter from the Department notifying of the four-week period in which the assessment and rating visit will occur.
  • The Department requests that the approved provider submits a copy of the service's quality improvement plan and register of FDC educators for FDC services, within two weeks. The Department may also request additional service specific information.
Week 2

Quality improvement plan

  • The approved provider submits the quality improvement plan and/or register of FDC educators to the Department.
Week 3

First phone call

  • The authorised officer contacts the visit contact person by phone.
Weeks 5 - 8

Assessment and rating visit occurs

  • The assessment visit will occur during the four week period specified in the email to the approved provider. The Department will give the approved provider at least five days' notice of the date of the visit.
  • FDC services will be notified of the date of the visit to the principal office prior to that visit and will be advised of the FDC educators who will be visited during the assessment and rating visit.
  • The authorised officer may give some general comments at the time of the visit but will not give an indication of the service rating. Feedback may include the opportunity to make minor adjustments within specified areas and timeframes to address concerns identified at the visit. For further information on the minor adjustments policy refer to the Guide to Assessment and Rating for Regulatory Authorities
After the visit

Draft report

  • The approved provider is issued the draft report.

    The approved provider has 10 working days to provide feedback on any factual inaccuracies in the report and provide evidence to support a change to the element, standard or quality area.
Approx. 5 – 7 weeks after the visit date

Feedback due

  • Feedback on the draft report is provided to the Department. If no feedback is provided, the report is final and the notice of final ratings is issued to the approved provider.
Approx. 8 weeks after the visit date

Final report

  • If feedback is provided on the draft report, this is considered by the Department, the report is then finalised and sent to the approved provider along with the notice of final ratings.


What are the requirements for quality improvement plans?

Submitting the quality improvement plan

Education and care services are required to submit their quality improvement plan within 10 working days of receiving the notification of the commencement of the assessment and rating visit. While the quality improvement plan itself is not assessed, the plan assists the authorised officer undertaking the assessment and rating visit to gain an understanding of the service.

Family day care services are required to prepare a quality improvement plan for the whole of the family day care service, family day care educators are not required to prepare an individual quality improvement plan. Family day care services are also required to submit the register of family day care educators.

Quality improvement plans must be submitted to the Manager, Quality Assessment and Regulation in the relevant regional office of the Department. See: the regional offices.

Other requirements

Each education and care service must have a quality improvement plan in place at the service that:

  • describes the self-assessment of the quality of the practices of the service against the National Quality Standard, National Law and the National Regulations
  • identifies areas for improvement
  • contains a statement of the philosophy (regulation 55).

Quality improvement plans need to be reviewed at least annually and upon request must be submitted to the Department (regulation 56). The quality improvement plan must be kept available at the education and care service premises or at the principal office of a family day care service. It must be available for inspection by the Department, on request to parents of a child who is enrolled at the service or prospective families of the service (regulation 31).

The quality improvement plan should be a meaningful document for services that supports the regular assessment of the service's practices, recognises strengths and identifies areas where improvement is needed. The focus of the plan should be on continuous improvement and therefore it should be regularly reviewed to reflect on current practice and the quality of education and care provided.

All staff members and educators should be involved in the self-assessment against the National Quality Standard and the development and review of quality improvement plans. Including all staff members and educators helps to create common understandings of the priorities for continuous improvement and can have a positive impact on service quality.

While it is important that services reflect on their practice, policies and procedures against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard and related regulatory requirements, there is no expectation that all 18 standards and 58 elements will be addressed in the quality improvement plan.

After the assessment and rating process services are encouraged to amend their quality improvement plans to reflect information in the outcome of the assessment and rating of the service.


Further information

The Department of Education and Training

Phone: 1300 307 415

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is the national statutory authority governing the National Quality Framework.

Phone: 1300 422 327
Web: Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)