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 fact sheets mirror the stages of the process: the first provides background information about the 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 fact sheet outlines what happens after the assessment and rating visit has been completed.
Assessment and rating process
Preparing for the assessment and rating visit
Assessment and rating visit
- After an assessment and rating visit
How is the rating decided?
Following the assessment and rating visit education and care services are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard, the National Law and the National Regulations.
The NQS is divided into seven quality areas. The seven quality areas are informed by best practice and the way in which high-quality education and care is delivered. The seven quality areas are:
- Educational program and practice
- Children's health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management
The National Quality Standard is further divided into 18 standards and 58 elements. Education and care services are assessed against each element and rated against each of the standards.
Following an assessment and rating visit, services receive a draft assessment and rating report that includes a proposed rating against each of the seven quality areas and an overall rating. The ratings awarded by the Department are:
Exceeding National Quality Standard
Meeting National Quality Standard
Working Towards National Quality Standard
Significant Improvement Required.
Services must meet the National Quality Standard for all 58 elements in order to receive a rating of
Meeting National Quality Standard. As a result, services may take time to achieve this rating. Education and care services performing well across a number of quality areas may receive a rating of
Working Towards National Quality Standard. The highest rating to be given by the Department,
Exceeding National Quality Standard, may be earned by a small number of services.
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 ensure the relevant issues are resolved immediately.
Achieving a rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard
An overall rating of
Exceeding National Quality Standard will be achieved by an education and care service if:
- the education and care service has an
Exceeding National Quality Standard rating for all quality areas stated in the National Quality Standard;
- the education and care service has: an
Exceeding National Quality Standard rating for 4 or more quality areas and at least 2 include the following quality areas:
Educational program and practice
Relationships with children
Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Leadership and service management,
Meeting National Quality Standard rating for each other quality area (regulation 62(3)).
An Exceeding National Quality Standard rating may only be given for quality area 1: educational program and practice where a service that educates and cares for children who are in the year prior to attending school, if the service either provides a preschool program or has a documented arrangement with an approved provider of another education and care service to provide a preschool program and informs parents of this arrangement (regulation 62(2)).
The excellent rating can only be awarded by ACECQA, by application, using the following criteria:
- the service exemplifies and promotes exceptional education and care that improves outcomes for children and families
- the service demonstrates leadership that contributes to the development of a community, a local area, or the wider education and care sector
- the service demonstrates commitment to sustained excellent practice through continuous improvement and comprehensive forward planning.
Further information about the
Excellent rating and guidelines on
Using the IDES model to address the Excellent rating selection criteria are available on the ACECQA website at: ACECQA - Excellent rating
Receiving the assessment and rating report
Draft assessment and rating report and opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the assessment and rating visit
Following the assessment and rating visit, the approved provider will receive a draft assessment and rating report from the Department. Following receipt of the draft assessment and rating report, the approved provider has the opportunity to provide formal feedback to the Department if there are any factual inaccuracies of specific concerns which the approved provider believes would significantly impact on the rating of the service. This feedback must be received within 10 working days of receipt by the service of the draft assessment and rating report.
A template has been developed by ACECQA to assist approved providers in presenting succinct and factual feedback about their draft assessment and rating report. The information should demonstrate how the service 'met' an element or was 'Meeting' or 'Exceeding' the National Quality Standard. Providing evidence using this template will assist the Department to identify which Quality Area the evidence relates to and simplify this part of the process. When considering whether to provide feedback only factors that existed at the time of the assessment and rating visit will be considered. The
Providing Feedback on the Draft Assessment and Rating Report template is available at:
ACECQA - Assessment and rating resources
If the approved provider has provided feedback on the draft assessment and rating report, the Department will send the final report and final notice of rating to them around eight weeks after the assessment and rating visit.
If the approved provider does not have any feedback, the assessment and rating report is considered to be final at this time and the final notice of rating will be forwarded to the approved provider along with a letter confirming that the process is complete.
The assessment and rating report and ratings represents a point in time assessment of the performance of the education and care service against the National Quality Standard, National Law and National Regulations. The assessment and rating process represents an opportunity for education and care services to receive feedback about their performance against the National Quality Standard.
The approved provider has 14 working days after receiving the final report and notice of rating to ask for a review of the rating by the Department, referred to as a 'first tier review'. More information and application forms are available on the ACECQA website at:
ACECQA - Review of ratings.
If the approved provider wishes to review the outcome of the first tier review, they may apply to ACECQA for a second tier review conducted by the Ratings Review Panel. Applications must be made within 14 days of receiving the final result of the first tier review, and can only be made after a first tier review has been completed.
Applications for the reviews of ratings by the Department and by ACECQA should be made using the application forms available on the ACECQA website at:
ACECQA - Review and ratings.
Publication of results
The rating for each quality area and the overall rating for each service are published on the ACECQA website:
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and the
MyChild website. For services not yet assessed the rating is
Provisional Rating – Not Yet Assessed.
The register of approved education and care services published on the ACECQA website also includes the rating for each quality area and the overall rating for each service. Transferred services will retain the existing rating until the next scheduled assessment and rating visit is completed.
Displaying ratings information at the service
On completion of the assessment and rating process the service will receive the final notice of rating outlining the current rating level for each quality area and overall rating. This notice must be displayed so that it is clearly visible from the main entrance of the service premises (including the principal office of a family day care service) (section 172).
Communicating with parents and families
The overall service rating and rating for each quality area are likely to be of interest to families and the community. Education and care services should give careful consideration to communicating with families about the ratings received by the service, the areas where the service is performing strongly and those areas prioritised for continuous improvement.
Discussing the outcomes for each quality area may assist in this process, by drawing attention to areas where the service is performing strongly and areas for continuous improvement. Open communication about both areas of strength and areas identified for continuous improvement and how the service intends to address these, is likely to be valued by parents.
Continuous quality improvement
The National Quality Framework promotes continuous improvement in the quality of education and care provided by services. Each service is required to develop a quality improvement plan that is reviewed at least annually and that identifies specific improvements for the service. Assessment and rating reports provide services with a focus for continuous improvement and should inform the ongoing development of quality improvement plans.
It is a good idea to be as inclusive as possible in the ongoing development of the quality improvement plan. Educators, staff members, families and children can all make a valuable contribution to the quality improvement plan and define the priorities for continuous improvement in the service.
The quality improvement plan is not assessed as part of the assessment and rating process.
Resources and useful links
There are many resources available to help you focus on specific standards and elements of the National Quality Standard. Meeting the requirements of the National Quality Standard requires services to make decisions about practice appropriate to their unique philosophy and context, as part of an ongoing process of critical reflection and continuous improvement. The Department has published useful links for each quality area at:
National Quality Standard: useful links.
When will my next assessment and rating visit be conducted?
The rating received will determine when the next assessment and rating visit will be due. As a guide the frequency of assessment and rating visits is as follows:
Excellent: Generally every four years
Exceeding National Quality Standard: Generally every four years
Meeting National Quality Standard: Generally every three years
Working Towards National Quality Standard: Generally every two years
Significant Improvement Required: The service is operating in a way that places the safety, health and wellbeing of children at risk and the Department is working with the service to ensure that these issues are addressed immediately.
These timeframes are a guide and the Department may choose to conduct the assessment and rating process outside the proposed frequency of assessment and rating visits.
An approved provider may also apply for the reassessment and re-rating of a service, or for any aspect or element of a service that can be rated against the National Quality Standard or the national regulations. An application for reassessment and re-rating can generally only be made once in every 2 year period, unless the Department agrees otherwise. An
application fee applies.
For more information, see: Assessment and ratings
Department of Education and Training
Phone: 1300 307 415
Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is a statutory authority governing the National Quality Framework.
Phone: 1300 422 327
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)