Providing feedback on assessment and rating reports


Your service has received its draft assessment and r​ating r​eport.

You had expected to receive an Exceeding National Quality Standard (NQS) rating but were rated Meeting NQS, so you intend to give feedback to the Regulatory Authority (the department).

But before you do, it is important to understand how exceeding themes are awarded.

Exceeding NQS requires a service to go above and beyond what is expected at the Meeting NQS level for that standard.

The higher benchmark for quality that is expected at the Exceeding NQS rating level is described by three exceeding themes. Exceeding practice is:

  1. embedded in service operations (Theme 1)
  2. informed by critical reflection (Theme 2)
  3. s​haped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community (Theme 3).

To determine if a service meets this benchmark, authorised officers (AOs) ask questions of the evidence they have gathered for each Standard against the exceeding themes.

You can find out what these questions are and more useful information in the Exceeding NQS Theme Guidance section in the Guide to the National Quality Framework.

​Preparing your feedback

When preparing your feedback make sure you have answered each of the questions AOs ask of the evidence.

As these questions are sequential, you must be able to answer 'yes' and give adequate evidence in support before moving on to the next question

If you answered 'no' to any question, the exceeding theme cannot be awarded.​


Exceeding theme 1 – practice is embedded in service operations

Question 1: Are high-quality practices consistent across the service for this Standard?

Question 2: Does the service have processes to ensure consistent high-quality practices are in place regardless of the staffing or situation on any given day?

Question 3: Do staff/educators have a shared understanding of the service’s approach to high-quality practice for the Standard?

Question 4: Are you 'seeing' usual high-quality practice in line with the service philosophy throughout the day?

Consider in relation to all aspects of the Standard. Where relevant, this will include during meal times, rest times and transition times.

Exceeding theme 2 – practice is informed by critical reflection

Question 1: Is the service reflecting on its practice for this Standard?

Question 2: Is it critical reflection? Critical reflection may:

  • involve robust debate
  • reference theorists, or current research or information from outside the service
  • incorporate social justice considerations
  • hypothesise, test and evaluate different approaches to doing things
  • aid the service in responding to complex situations, challenges and expectations
  • involve more than repetition of events that occurred, identifies underlying concepts of significance

Question 3: Can decisions about practice at the service be linked back to critical reflection, and is this evident in observable practice?

Question4: Have staff/educators, relevant to their roles and responsibilities, shown:

  • a clear understanding of the reasons behind any changes to their practice or continuation of their current practice?
  • the ability to articulate what they are doing and why?

Exceeding theme 3 - practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or the community

Question 1: Does the service engage with families and/or the community (local communities, community organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and local support agencies) in relation to this Standard?

Question 2: Is the engagement meaningful? Meaningful engagement may, but does not have to:

  • be consistent and ongoing
  • make families and/or the community integral in the decision-making process
  • involve actively seeking and carefully considering and valuing family and community feedback
  • result in shared decision-making and problem-solving

Question 3: Does this meaningful engagement inform and shape practice?

Question 4: Does the way in which the service engages with families and/or the community reflect the service and its context?

An example of an Exceeding theme supported by evidence 

The service's nominated supervisor stated the educational leader, educators and management regularly reflected on how they were building and maintaining respectful and equitable relationships between educators and children (Standard 5.1).

This was demonstrated through discussions with the authorised officer and documentation such as a standing agenda item in team meetings, educators' reflective diaries, and notes about professional development sessions which were directly relevant to the standard.

Therefore, the answer to the first question for Exceeding theme 2 (Is the service reflecting on its practice for this Standard?) is 'yes' and the AO can move on to the next question – is this reflection critical?

The AO assesses the evidence collected through discussions and documentation against this threshold question.

For example, across 3 months, team meeting minutes showed robust debate among staff members about the service's approach to the standard and reference was made to recent research from a local university – also directly relevant to the standard.

During this period, staff members 'unpacked' their practice for the standard to see how it aligned with the Guide to the NQF and current research.

In discussions, the nominated supervisor explained the service had, in the past 6 months, introduced a change in practice, based on the research and educators' discussions. They were evaluating the effectiveness of the new approach with support from university staff who had completed the research.

Therefore, the answer to the second question for Exceeding theme 2 (Is it critical reflection?) is 'yes' and the AO can move on to the next question.

Consideration of the remaining 2 questions for this theme will continue in the same manner, and only in the event that all questions are answered 'yes' can the service be awarded Exceeding theme 2.

Related information

Guide to the National Quality Framework (search for 'Exceeding NQS Theme Guidance') – Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website

What is critical reflection? – ACECQA website

Exceeding the NQS – ACECQA website

Second tier review – putting your best case forward – ACECQA website

Assessment and ratings

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Last updated 01 February 2022