Changes to the National Quality Standard (NQS)

The Australian, state and territory education ministers have agreed to changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) and updates to the National Quality Standard (NQS) and quality ratings.

The NQS is a major part of the National Quality Framework and sets a high, national benchmark for early childhood education and care services in Australia. The NQS allows child services to understand the quality of care expected, and helps families to choose the right service or centre for their child’s needs.

At Cherry Bridge Station we are very proud to reinforce all seven of the quality areas and practices laid out in the NQS and as such we follow any changes or updates as they are announced by the Australian’s Children Education & Care Quality Authority.

Below is a summary of the most recent changes which can be viewed in more detail in this ACECQA information sheet.

What has changed

To clarify how quality is rated in education and care services the number of standards of the NQS has been reduced from 18 to 15, and the elements from 58 to 40.

The language is clearer with each standard and element now describing a single concept.

The new guidance will clarify the difference between ‘Meeting NQS’ and ‘Exceeding NQS’ ratings for each standard.

Services will be assessed and rated against the revised NQS from 1 February 2018.

The 7 Quality Areas(As described in the information sheet)

Quality Area 1

The number of standards has increased from two to three to reflect the three primary contributors to quality education: programs, practice, and assessment and planning.

Under the current NQS, concepts relating to assessment and planning are referenced in multiple areas. These are now grouped together under the new standard 1.3.

Quality Area 2

The number of standards and elements has reduced from three standards and ten elements to two standards and six elements.

The new ‘Health’ standard includes healthy lifestyle, wellbeing and comfort, and health practices and procedures.

The current standard 2.3 has been consolidated into a new ‘Safety’ standard to ensure each child is protected and adequate supervision is provided to protect children from harm and hazard.

Quality Area 3

The number of standards and elements has reduced from three standards to two and seven elements to five.

The two standards cover the design of the service environment and the use of the service. There has been a slight shift in the concept of environmental responsibility to focus more on the child’s experience.

Quality Area 4

There are no changes to the number of standards and elements in Quality Area 4.

All elements relating to staffing arrangements and staff continuity under Quality Area 7 are grouped together under Quality Area 4 in the revised NQS. The elements about educator to child ratios and qualification requirements have been removed as they must be maintained at all times under the National Regulations.

Quality Area 5

The number of elements has reduced from six to four as elements that were similar have been combined. For example, responsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.

Quality Area 6

The number of standards has reduced from three to two and the elements from nine to six. Elements that were similar have been combined. For example, under the current NQS there are two elements about ensuring current information is available to support families.

Quality Area 7

This quality area was renamed. The standards have been reduced from three to two and thirteen elements to six. Although this may look like a big change, six of the elements that were removed duplicate minimum legislated requirements. For example, the requirement to maintain and store records.

This quality area was renamed. The standards have been reduced from three to two and thirteen elements to six. Although this may look like a big change, six of the elements that were removed duplicate minimum legislated requirements. For example, the requirement to maintain and store records.

Ratings

The application fee for the Excellent rating will be removed. (Only applicable to services rated Exceeding NQS in all quality areas.)

All standards in a Quality Area will need to be rated Exceeding NQS for that Quality Area to be rated Exceeding NQS. (There are no changes to the way in which the overall rating for Exceeding NQS is calculated.)

At Cherry Bridge Station we welcome these positive changes and updates. We are proud to continue our positive impact on the quality of our children’s education and uphold the high standards that our little learners and their families deserve.