Update your quality improvement plan

​Information to help you complete or update your Quality improvement plan against the revised National Quality Standard. Includes guidance around the requirements and how to self-assess current practice.

Services are now being assessed under the revised National Quality Standard (NQS). As a result you will need to review and update your Quality improvement plan (QIP).

To help you with your QIP, we've collaborated with Heather Barnes, early childhood consultant and trainer to produce the following guidance.



Part one: self-assessment

The first step in the self-assessment process is to ensure that the changes to the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 are being met.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) have developed a summary of changes to help.

Self-assessment against the revised NQS is required so that services are able to accurately identify ways you are meeting the requirements and what could be improved. To get started with self-assessment:

  1. read the revised NQS carefully as there have been some changes in the number, wording and placement of elements and standards
  2. use the questions under each standard in the guide to the National Quality Framework to prompt discussion and deeper reflection
  3. keep records of self-assessment processes and discussions to create a ‘to do’ list.

There may be several identified improvements listed under each quality area but not all need to be included into the QIP immediately.

Choose a workable and achievable number of the highest priority issues to incorporate into the current QIP. As these improvements are achieved transfer them to the strengths section and the next most important improvement can be slotted into the QIP from your ‘to do’ list.

Part two: updating the QIP

The QIP template has been updated to include the revised standard and elements of the National Quality Standard. It is recommended that services use the ACECQA template, however alternative templates or formats can be used if they include:

  1. an assessment of the quality of service practices against the NQS and the National Regulations
  2. identified areas for improvement
  3. a statement of the philosophy of the service.

To get started, you may want to move all your current strengths and identified issues and plans for quality improvement from your previous QIP into the appropriate place under the revised NQS in the new template.

Some elements are almost identical but some have been removed or combined with others (see our tips in part one: self assessment for how to get familiar with the new NQS).

ACECQA have produced a helpful document that compares the previous and revised NQS to assist with this change.

What your QIP needs

  • strategies to address areas for further improvement identified during self-assessment
  • the key areas for improvement: all 15 standards and 40 elements do not need to be addressed in the QIP
  • the QIP can be as long or as short as you require, but keep in mind that if the QIP is too long it can be hard to focus on actually achieving quality improvements.

There is always room for quality improvement, even in services previously rated as Exceeding NQS or Excellent.

Remember to regularly update your QIP, keeping in mind emerging issues that may need to be included.

The QIP is a plan to guide the service’s quality improvements and to share what is currently being worked on with authorised officers and other interested people such as families, children, educators and the community. Therefore, it doesn’t need to include all of the quality improvements that have already been achieved since 2012.

Part three: showcase your strengths

The strengths section in the QIP template provides your service with the opportunity to summarise practices you are proud of and to share them with others.

Exceeding NQS

The revised NQF emphasises that a rating of Exceeding NQS means going above and beyond what is expected for services in compliance at the Meeting NQS level.

In the strengths section you can highlight practices that sit within the three exceeding themes needed for each standard to be rated at Exceeding NQS. New guidance on determining exceeding NQS Standards from 1 Feb 2018.

Theme 1: practice is embedded in service operations

Here, high quality practice is demonstrated consistently and frequently across the service.

Theme 2: practice is informed by critical reflection

Educators consider, question, analyse to enable a culture of reflection,  self-assessment and continuous improvement.

Theme 3: practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

The unique nature of your community should shape the development and delivery of practice and service.

Part four: questions for reflection

Use these questions to reflect on your service practice while developing your QIP:

  • is there a documented process for ongoing self-assessment, planning and review against the National Quality Standard, such as a self-assessment document or minutes from meetings that show how children, staff, families and management reflect on aspects of the NQS on an ongoing basis?
  • wherever possible have all people associated with the service (children, families, educators, staff, management etc) been asked for their input during the self-assessment process?
  • does the QIP clearly show that practices that could be improved have been identified through self-assessment process and that related goals have been established to work towards?
  • does the QIP include any suggested improvements from the previous Assessment and Rating Report or have they already been actioned?
  • are there clear steps or strategies for achieving the quality improvements? (If it’s a quick fix then it doesn’t need to be included, just do it!)
  • has an achievement date for each quality improvement been included? (It is not useful to put ‘Ongoing’ as it is too open-ended and therefore may never be achieved.)If the improvement has not been achieved by the due date, include updates on progress that has been made, identify the obstacles to achieving the goal, record further strategies that will be used and identify a new date.
  • is the QIP gathering dust in the foyer? On the office computer? Or is it displayed in an eye-catching way, so that families and staff can view the current goals and strategies for quality improvement?