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Develop and implement a QIP

Develop and implement a QIP

A Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is a document that identifies the service's goals for quality improvement and notes some strategies for achieving those goals. It helps everyone at the service to stay focused on the improvements and on implementing the strategies needed to achieve the goals.

Requirements

The National Law and National Regulations include several requirements that apply to the QIP.

Illustration of a spiral-bound folder titled 'National Regulations'.

For example, according to Regulation 31: Condition on service approval-QIP, the approved provider must ensure that a current QIP:

  1. is kept at the education and care service premises or, in the case of a family day care service, the principal office of the family day care service; and
  2. is made available for inspection by the Regulatory Authority or an authorised officer.

According to Regulation 55: QIPs, the approved provider must ensure that the QIP:

  1. includes an assessment by the provider of the quality of the practices of the service against the National Quality Standard and these Regulations; and
  2. identifies any areas that the provider considers may require improvement; and
  3. contains a statement of the philosophy of the service.

According to Regulation 56: Review and revision of QIPs:

  1. The approved provider of an education and care service must review and revise the quality improvement plan for the service having regard to the National Quality Standard—
    1. at least annually; and
    2. at any time when directed by the Regulatory Authority.
  2. The approved provider must submit the current quality improvement plan to the Regulatory Authority on request.

Process for developing and implementing a QIP

The following diagram shows the process for developing and implementing a QIP, including:

  • identifying strengths and improvements needed
  • planning improvements and including them in the QIP
  • implementing improvements
  • reviewing progress
  • self-assessment.

Each part of the process is detailed below.

Process for Developing and Implementing a QIP

Diagram showing the self-assessment process. It is a circular diagram to represent that it is a continuous process. The steps occur in this order: 1. Self-assessment. 2. Identify strengths and improvements needed. 3. Plan improvements and include them in the QIP. 4. Implement improvements. 5. Review progress. An arrow from 'Review progress' then leads back to 'Self-assessment', and the cycle begins again.

Diagram showing the process for developing a QIP

Identify strengths and improvements needed

During the self-assessment process, the service will have noted aspects that are being managed very well (strengths) and identified areas where improvements could be made.

Strengths

In the QIP, record the strengths that the service identified during self-assessment. It can be affirming for everyone in the service to be able to see what has been agreed by children, families, educators and management as areas of practice that are working well.

Recording strengths also provides a clear picture to the Regulatory Authority of the practices that the service is proud of when the QIP is submitted prior to the assessment and rating visit.

 Tip for practice

It is not necessary to write a great deal of detail about your strengths, as they will be evident to the authorised officer during your assessment and rating visit. It is better to concentrate your time on writing your plans for improvement.

Areas for improvement

Use the working document or 'to do' list of improvements recorded during self-assessment to develop the QIP.

Decide which of these improvements:

  • need to be dealt with immediately (anything that has been identified as not meeting the National Law and the National Regulations needs to be addressed straight away)
  • need to be incorporated into the QIP now
  • are a lower priority and can be incorporated into a later version of the QIP.

Remember that it is not necessary to include improvements for every quality area, as long as each of them has been reviewed during the self-assessment process. For example, the service may have identified several issues in one quality area and none in another.

Plan improvements and include them in the QIP

The Quality Improvement Plan must include strategies to address those quality areas noted during the self-assessment or assessment process as not meeting the National Quality Standard or any regulatory requirement.

Guide 4: Guide to Developing a QIP, 2013

Plan how the service will achieve the improvements by including the following detail in the QIP:

  • write a goal for each of the improvements that the service wants to achieve
  • note to which element or standard of the National Quality Standard it is related
  • record whether the goal is low, medium or high priority
  • set out the steps or strategies that will be used to achieve the goal
  • note how success will be measured (how the service will know that the goal has been achieved)
  • set a target date for achieving each goal (the date needs to be specific because the aim is to reach the goal).

 Tip for practice

  1. There needs to be a process and a place for recording your progress towards achieving the goals.

    Appendix 2 of 'Guide 4: Guide to Developing a QIP' provides a template that clearly states what needs to be included in the QIP.

    Guide 4: Guide to Developing a QIP also provides many helpful hints for writing the QIP, and it includes examples of completed QIPs from a range of settings (see Appendix 1, pages 11–16).

    You don't have to use the ACECQA QIP template. You can use any format that suits your service. However your QIP should include all the aspects identified in the template.

  2. There is no minimum or maximum number of pages required when completing your QIP.

    With that in mind, keep your QIP short. If it is too long it may be difficult to remember the goals and to stay focused on the required improvements.


Example of practice: using the SMART method to write the QIP

One service used the SMART model of setting goals to help them to focus when writing their QIP.

S is for specific: the service ensured that the goals were clear and specific. Some of the ideas that the service had been discussing were too general in nature. The SMART model helped them to write goals that were explicit and clear to everyone.

M is for measurable: the service discussed what needed to be evident if the goals had been achieved.

A is for attainable: the goals needed to be achievable and not so aspirational that they would be impossible to reach.

R is for realistic: the goals had to be suited to the setting and what could be achieved.

T is for time: to maintain momentum, the service had to set deadlines for the goal.

The SMART model also helped the service to stay focused on how and what should be documented.

Implement improvements

To achieve the service's goals, it is important to stay focused on the QIP and to start working on the steps or strategies that have been identified. If possible, various educators could be responsible for different aspects. This spreads the load and helps everyone to feel part of the process.


Example of practice: self-assessment, identifying a goal and planning strategies

During self-assessment, a preschool in rural Victoria reviewed their practice in relation to Quality Area 6: Collaborative partnerships with families and communities. The preschool found that educators had little contact with families whose children travelled to the preschool on buses.

The preschool identified that they needed to change some of their procedures in order to meet Standard 6.1: Respectful supportive relationships with families are developed and maintained. The resulting goal included in the QIP was to increase personal contact with all families.

To achieve this goal, strategies were planned and noted in the QIP. They included that:

  • an educator would travel on the bus twice a week to have face-to-face contact with families
  • a survey would be sent to families asking them to nominate a convenient day and time for the service to phone and chat educators would create a schedule for phoning families
  • a range of after-hours options for getting together would be circulated (for example, a family barbecue, a sleepover and a star-gazing evening), and families would be asked for their preferences and ideas. Social gatherings would then be planned and held based on families' preferences and ideas.

The service planned a time for implementing the strategies and for reviewing their progress to see if the goal had been achieved or whether other strategies to further increase contact with families would be needed.

 Tip for practice

To stay focused on implementing improvements, display your QIP in a place where all of the educators and families can see it.


Example of practice: displaying the QIP visually

Some services make their QIP more appealing to families and staff by displaying it in an eye-catching way.

Photograph of a Quality Improvement Plan in the shape of a caterpillar

This colourful QIP is in the shape of a caterpillar.
Image © Heather Barnes

Photograph of a Quality Improvement Plan. It is a poster laid out by month. Each month is represented by a colourful strip of paper, and each strip has one or more sentences stuck onto it. The sentences are too small to read in this image. The poster's heading is 'How we will meet these outcomes'.

This QIP has been designed as a colourful chart.
Image © Heather Barnes

Review progress

  • Monitor the target dates for achieving the goals.
  • Schedule reviews of the QIP at staff meetings so that everyone stays focused on what needs to be completed and so that progress can be documented regularly in the QIP.
  • If it has not been possible to achieve a goal by the anticipated date, document the progress achieved so far and then set some new strategies and a new target date. The goal may need to be rewritten so that it is realistic and achievable.
  • Once a goal has been achieved it is not part of the QIP anymore and can be removed. Another identified issue from the self-assessment working document or 'to do' list can then be incorporated into the QIP.

Example of practice: recording progress

'Guide 2: Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011' recommends that previous versions of the QIP be kept as a record of progress.

Some services have created 'achievement' folders that they proudly display so that families and visitors can see their progress. Other services display photos and posters to highlight their achievements as they occur.

One service decided that they wanted to keep track of their accomplishments over time. Instead of creating a separate folder, they changed the font colours in the QIP to make it easy for people to see what had been achieved and the areas being worked on.

While this strategy is working for them at this stage, they may reconsider its use if the document becomes too big.

The QIP should continually evolve

In the same way that self-assessment is ongoing, the QIP is a dynamic and evolving document.

According to Regulation 56 from the National Regulations, the QIP must be reviewed and revised at least annually. Most services review and update their QIPs regularly to maintain the momentum of quality improvement.

Following the assessment and rating visit, the report sent to the service may include further suggestions for quality improvements that need to be added to the QIP.

What's next?

Now that you have explored developing and implementing a QIP, you may want to learn more about assessment and rating.


Adapted from

Guide 2: Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011', 'National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Guide 4: Guide to developing a Quality Improvement Plan', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Reviewing your Quality Improvement Plan', Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority

'Revising the service philosophy', NQS PLP Newsletter, 28, 2012

'Self-assessment, reflective practice and quality improvement processes', 'Talking about practice' series, Commonwealth of Australia, 2012

Abbreviations

  • ACECQA: Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
  • National Law: Education and Care Services National Law
  • National Quality Framework: National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care
  • National Quality Standard: National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care
  • National Regulations: Education and Care Services National Regulations
  • QIP: Quality Improvement Plan
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia, unless otherwise indicated
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia,unless otherwise indicated