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Assessment & Rating Explained: Education Standards Board

The Education Standards Board is the regulatory authority in South Australia that assesses quality, under the National Quality Framework, and monitors compliance against the Education and Early Childhood Services National Law (South Australia) (National Law) and Regulations.

Early childhood services include long day care, preschool and kindergarten, family day care and out of school hours care.

To begin operation, an approved provider of an early childhood service must apply to the Education Standards Board for service approval. This initial approval includes assessment of the suitability of the premises, adequacy of staffing and effectiveness of policy and procedure to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of children, and provision of valuable developmental opportunities through learning and play.

To approve a service, an Authorised Officer will usually attend the premises, review policy and procedure, and ensure that there is provision for adequate staffing, including that management, and educators providing the service are suitably qualified and cleared for working with children.

After 12 months of operation, Authorised Officers from the Education Standards Board assess and rate the service against the seven Quality Areas which form the National Quality Standard.

What do The Quality Areas cover?

  1. Education program and practice

  2. Health, safety and wellbeing of children

  3. Safety, suitability and learning and development opportunities in the physical environment

  4. Staffing arrangements which create predictable environments and encourage active engagement with the learning program

  5. Relationships with children that are responsive, respectful predictable and promote children’s sense of security and belonging

  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities that promote local community involvement and respect for the beliefs and values of families

  7. Effective leadership of the service which establishes shared values and a clear direction for continuous improvement.

As part of the assessment and rating process, an Authorised Officer from the Education Standards Board will visit the service and collect evidence by observing children, educators, coordinators, staff, and families’ activity, discussing practices at the service with staff and sighting documentation that supports practices at the service.

Each service is unique, and the assessment and rating process acknowledges that the ways in which the standards for quality are met will vary depending on the service context, including the needs of families and the wider community.

A service will be rated for each quality area, ranging from “Working Towards”, “Meeting”, to “Exceeding”. The overall rating a service receives is based on the results for each of the quality areas and is published on Starting Blocks.

Each service must display their rating and have their Quality Improvement Plan available for families and caregivers to view. A Quality Improvement Plan forms part of the submissions for assessment and rating and includes a statement of philosophy for the service and identifies area for improvement.

Services that have demonstrated Exceeding themes in each of the seven quality areas have the option of applying to the ACECQA, the national regulatory authority, for an “Excellent” rating, which signals that the service promotes exceptional education and care and demonstrates leadership in their practice.


The Education Standards Board is the state government body responsible for regulating early childhood services and schools. For more information, visit


Originally published in Connected Caregiving Spring 2022


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