National Quality Framework
In December 2009, all Australian Governments agreed to a new National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care. This means that all Australian children, regardless of their location, will get the best possible start in life through high quality early childhood education and care and school age care services. The Framework will help providers improve their services in the areas that impact on a child’s development and empower families to make informed choices about which service is best for their child.
The National Quality Framework includes:
- a national legislative framework that consists of the Education and Care Services National Law and Education and Care Services National Regulations
- a National Quality Standard
- an assessment and rating system
- a regulatory authority in each state and territory who will have primary responsibility for the approval, monitoring and quality assessment of services in their jurisdiction in accordance with the national legislative framework and in relation to the National Quality Standard.
- the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).
ACECQA, the new national body is responsible for providing oversight of the new system and ensuring consistency of approach.
National Quality Standard
The National Quality Standard sets a new national benchmark for the quality of education and care services. It will also give services and families a better understanding of a quality service. This will enable families to make informed decisions about the services providing education and care to their child. The National Quality Standard is a key aspect of the National Quality Framework.
The National Quality Standard was informed by research about best practice and the way in which high quality education and care contributes to positive outcomes for children. It comprises quality areas, standards and elements. The seven quality areas in the National Quality Standard 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 linked to national learning frameworks that recognise children learn from birth and outline practices to support and promote children’s learning. These are:
- Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (‘Early Years Learning Framework’)
- My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (‘Framework for School Age Care’).
ACECQA provides oversight of the National Quality Standard and its application across the country to ensure that services are meeting the new requirements. Visit www.acecqa.gov.au for further information
Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority – www.acecqa.gov.au