Under the National Quality Framework, services are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard.
The relevant Regulatory Authority in each state and territory undertakes the assessment and rating process. The Regulatory Authority is also the point of contact for any questions that services have about the assessment and rating process.
Diagram showing the assessment and rating process
The process begins when the approved provider of the service receives notification from the Regulatory Authority that the assessment and rating process is beginning.
While the QIP itself is not assessed, reading it helps the authorised officer undertaking the assessment and rating visit to better understand the service.
It is helpful to review the philosophy statement at least annually and to engage educators, families and children in the review. This can lead to revisions that more accurately reflect the uniqueness of the service. The philosophy statement is then current and ready to be inserted into the QIP prior to assessment and rating.
The approved provider will be given notice that the assessment and rating visit will take place. Before the visit, the approved provider should choose a key contact person to have conversations with the authorised officer.
The length of the rating and assessment visit will depend on:
Authorised officers follow a uniform process when gathering the evidence required to assess and rate a service. They use 'observe', 'discuss' and 'sight' techniques to assess the service against each element of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations. (For more information, see Guide to National Quality Standard.)
The authorised officer should conduct the visit in a way that minimises disruption to the service's practice as much as possible. The only exception would be if the authorised officer considered there to be an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child or children being educated and cared for by the service.
At the end of the visit, the authorised officer provides broad verbal feedback about the visit, explaining that no indication of the rating can be given until all components of the process have been drawn together. Feedback may include the opportunity to make minor adjustments to the service's operations within specified areas and timeframes, to address concerns identified at the visit.
For further information on the minor adjustments policy, refer to the Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities.
After an assessment and rating visit, the Regulatory Authority undertakes activities to prepare the draft assessment report and the ratings. These activities include:
The approved provider is sent the Draft National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating Report, including the proposed rating for each standard and quality area and the overall rating. The approved provider has the opportunity to supply comments, discuss the report and seek further clarification if necessary.
If no feedback is provided, the report is final and the notice of final ratings is issued to the approved provider.
If feedback is provided on the draft report, this is considered by the Regulatory Authority. The report is then finalised and the notice of final ratings is issued to the approved provider.
There are five rating levels within the national quality assessment and rating process.
Following the assessment and rating visit, the service will receive a rating for each standard and quality area and an overall rating from one of these four rating levels:
If the service receives a rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard, it can then apply for the Excellent rating. The criteria and assessment of the Excellent rating level is determined by ACECQA.
During the assessment and rating visit to the service, the authorised officer first determines whether each element is met or not met, and also determines the service's compliance with the relevant regulations.
If any element is not met, then the rating for that standard cannot be Meeting National Quality Standard. The rating is therefore either Significant Improvement Required (if the practice is an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child or children being educated and cared for by the service) or Working Towards National Quality Standard.
If all elements are met, the standard may be Meeting National Quality Standard or Exceeding National Quality Standard, depending on the information gathered at the visit.
If any standard is rated at Significant Improvement Required, then that is the rating for that quality area as well.
If any standard is rated at Working Towards National Quality Standard (and there are no Significant Improvement Required ratings), then that is the rating for the quality area.
If the standards are all Meeting National Quality Standard, then that is the rating for the quality area.
To receive a rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard for the quality area, at least two of the standards in the quality area need to be rated at Exceeding National Quality Standard. (This would be more than half the number of standards in each quality area.)
Please see the extra criteria for achieving Exceeding National Quality Standard on pages 14 and 15 of the Guide to assessment and rating for services.
If the service receives Significant Improvement Required for one or more quality areas, then the overall rating is Significant Improvement Required.
If there are no quality areas rated at Significant Improvement Required but there is at least one rated at Working Towards National Quality Standard, then the rating is Working towards National Quality Standard.
If all standards are rated at Meeting National Quality Standard, then the rating is Meeting National Quality Standard.
If four or more standards are rated at Exceeding National Quality Standard, with the remainder being Meeting National Quality Standard, then the rating will be Exceeding National Quality Standard. However, two of those Exceeding National Quality Standard ratings must be from quality areas 1, 5, 6 and 7.
An approved provider may request a review of a rating. The request must be made in writing to the Regulatory Authority within 14 days after the approved provider has received the rating notice.
In addition, the National Law (sections 144–145) and the National Regulations (Regulation 69) allow for an approved provider to apply to ACECQA for a further review by the ratings review panel.
For more information see page 8 of the Guide to assessment and rating for services.
'Guide to assessment and rating for services', Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2014
'Information sheet: National Quality Framework assessment and rating process', Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
'Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities', Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2015
The Regulatory Authorities page has contact details for all of the Regulatory Authorities in Australia.