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What to expect on the day of Assessment & Rating

a&r assessment & rating childcare centre consultancy regulations Jan 10, 2022
What to expect on the day of A&R

Education and Care Services are assessed and rated by their state and regulatory authority. Each service is assessed against the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standards. Services are then given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas and an overall rating based on these results. Once finalised these results are published online and accessible to the public.

Earlier this month I was involved in an assessment and rating visit under the updated National Quality Standards for one of the services I manage. The service is licensed for 56 children per day and caters for children aged 0-5years. The service facilities are quite large and have 4 rooms across the premises. The visit took place over 2 days.

We would like to share our account for those of you who will be going through it soon or in the future, so you have an idea of what to expect on the day of A&R.

I would like to preface this article by saying that we understand that every assessor is different and therefore so is everyone’s experience, this is the story of our journey.

Day 1:

10:30am – Our assessor arrived – we got them to sign in and took them on a tour of the centre to introduce them to the educators

11am – Observe Lunch in classrooms and transition to the sleep routine.

12:30pm – Discussion with Nominated Supervisor on each of the following quality areas;

Quality Area 4: Staffing Arrangements

Quality Area 6: Collaborative Partnerships with families and communities

Quality Area 7: Governance and Leadership

This conversation lasted approximately 3 hours where we verbally explained the evidence from each element and standard in these quality areas.

The assessor asked our Nominated Supervisor when is it necessary to report an incident to the Regulatory Authority and how long do you have to report it?

The assessor asked our Nominated Supervisor what our process was for reviewing the policies and procedures as well as the philosophy and who was involved in this process?

3:30pm – Discussion with Educational Leader on Quality Area 1 (Educational Program and Practice) and Element 7.2.2 (Educational Leadership – The educational leader is supported and leads the development and implementation of the educational program and assessment and planning cycle) to understand how the programming and planning cycle worked for the service.

Sighted examples of the educational program, observations and reflections from each room ensuring that these all linked, were consistent and included individual and group learning, as well as indoor and outdoor documented experiences.

The assessor asked our educational leader what process was in place for her to support the team?

5pm – Finished up at the service

Prior to finishing up I was able to engage in a brief conversation with the assessor in regard to covering the themes for the exceeding NQS and asked if this needed to be covered as separate as per the new ACECQA Quality Improvement plan template, the assessor said not necessarily that an exceeding service is an exceeding service and as long as they could demonstrate evidence of the 3 exceeding themes for each standard they could receive this rating.

I tried to push my luck further and ask what an example of this might be or look like, but unfortunately she was unable to answer saying it was up to the individual service with how they interpreted and demonstrated this in practice.

The assessor mentioned that under the updated rating system, getting a rating of meeting is considered great, as it is very difficult for services to receive an exceeding rating as they need to address all 3 themes in each of the standards in order to receive this rating.

As you can imagine this left us with so much confidence moving forward for Day 2.

Day 2:

7:30am – Observed;

- families dropping children off and Breakfast
- morning group time in our toddler age group
- a nappy change
- free play time in the preschool rooms.

The assessor also checked the contents of our first aid kits while observing the rooms during this time.

10:30am – Sighted Evidence for;

Quality Area 2: Children’s Health and Safety

Quality Area 7: Governance and Leadership


- Mandatory Policies and Procedures – according the regulation 168

- Staff qualifications and files – to sight child protection for all Certified Supervisors, teacher accreditation documentation and all verified working with children checks

- Risk Assessment

- Excursion permission form

- Excursion Risk Assessment

- Accident, Incident, Injury, illness Record x 3 completed

- Medication form x 3 completed

- Enrolment file including up to date immunisation and Birth Certificate x 3

- Emergency Risk Assessment

- Medical Conditions action plans as well as risk minimisation plans for each child

- Illness registers

- Accident register

- Maintenance schedule

- Working directly with children log

- Staff sign in sheets

- Responsible person log

- Fire Evacuation Record

- Staff Meeting Minutes

The assessor also checked that all the Prescribed information was displayed within the service under Regulation 173.

1:00pm – Had a brief meeting to provide feedback on the minor adjustments for the following;

- Water trough stand had minor rust on the bottom of the leg

- A frame had a slight bit of paint flaking

- Pallet was too rough and needed to be sanded in the outdoor area

The assessor asked us to send photographic evidence once we had rectified these items.

1:30pm – Finished up at the service.

Evaluation of Experience:

The assessor was lovely, came in with a clear job to do and was very patient with us when we needed to pause to tend to children or families throughout the discussion time. It would have been really helpful to know in advance how much time she required our nominated supervisor and educational leader to be out of ratio to ensure we rostered an additional educator to cover them.

The Quality Improvement Plan was submitted in advance to my understanding this is so that the assessor can gain a full picture of the service prior to their visit, it is my opinion that too much time was spent discussing things that we were just repeating, essentially directly from our quality improvement plan, that could have been spent observing the practice of the educators.

When we added up the time spent Observing practice (4.5 hours) which is the bulk of what we do each day and cannot be demonstrated on paper in the quality improvement plan compared to the time spent discussing and sighting evidence outside of the rooms (8 hours). It left us feeling flat, questioning the entire process as if it was a compliance visit where the old-fashioned boxes just needed to get ticked off. At least that system was clear and left no room for bias or personal interpretation.

Of course we all know that in reality of a service each day can be completely different and it was the feedback from the centre was that in the 4.5 short hours spent observing that they didn’t feel as though the assessor was able to truly get an accurate picture of the centre.

In my opinion this experience has made it a clear reality that perhaps the only way to get exceeding under the updated system is to have a full time administration person documenting every conversation, meeting and encounter that takes place each day. And just checking and rechecking everything!

Naturally as an educator this experience got me reflecting on how this process could be improved, which has lead me to research how other countries across the world assess the compliance and quality within their early years services, keep an eye out on my next article sharing everything I’ve learnt.

If your service has had a similar journey to ours, or a completely different one, we would love to hear from you!

Check out my 8 TIPS for the day of Assessment & Rating.

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