By CELA on 24 Jul, 2020

The self-assessment tool – an optional resource

In response to sector feedback on the A&R process, ACECQA launched a self-assessment tool in March 2019. The tool is designed to support approved providers, service leaders and educators to assess the quality of their education and care service’s practices, policies and procedures, against the National Quality Standard and the National Law and Regulations. 

It’s fair to say that there has been some confusion around the tool, with many wondering where it fits into the A&R process and how to use the tool in the most effective way. 

The ACECQA self-assessment tool and Quality Improvement Plan template is available nationally and can be used throughout the year to keep a handy record of your internal self-assessment process, but it is not mandatory. 

NSW services can now access the NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal to make visible their self-assessment and quality improvement. 

2 options for submitting documentation in the NSW A&R process:

Option 1:

Submit your QIP prior to the A&R visit

Option 2 (NSW only):

Access the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal where you can enter your self-assessment information and quality improvement goals. Find out more here.

If you choose option 2 and access the NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, you can receive support through the NSW regulatory authority’s Continuous Improvement Team, who will provide guidance in articulating your key practices. 

NSW services that choose option 2 will not be required to submit their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to the portal, however, under the regulations, services are still required to have a QIP. 

According to NSW Regulatory Authority, this new approach to self-assessment and A&R reflects changes that services in NSW wanted to see, including: 

  • Increased engagement and frequency of visits 
  • Opportunities to work with authorised officers 
  • Increased consistency with assessment and rating 

If it’s optional, why would you use it?

According to ACECQA:

The ACECQA Self-assessment Tool will help you identify service strengths, areas of compliance, practices that are Exceeding NQS, and areas and opportunities for quality improvement. The Tool helps you through the process of self-assessment which can, where needed, inform your QIP. 

The tool is suitable for all service types and provides a process that services may choose to apply or adapt in a way that meets the needs of their unique service context. 

CELA trainer and A&R expert Kerrie Maguire positions the ACECQA self-assessment tool or the NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal as something that can enable you to feel more confident and competent on the day of the assessment because it helps you to be prepared. 

Feedback from the NSW regulatory authority is that authorised officers can gather up to 400 pieces of evidence during the A&R process,” shares Kerrie. “If you need to gather or find evidence on the day, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time on compliance. That means that the authorised officer is going to spend a lot of time in your office to see whether you’re meeting the regulations, which will take away from time outside the office where you could really let your service shine.

In CELA’s training session, Understanding Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning, Kerrie suggests that each team needs to make their own mind up about whether the ACECQA self-assessment tool or NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal could be useful for their service. She positions self-assessment as a process that allows you to make the invisible visible, create opportunities, and give you confidence on the day of assessment and rating. 

“If you say you do something in your QIP, how will you articulate it on the day and how will you support your statements?” asks Kerrie. “Using the evidence-based approach within the ACECQA self-assessment tool or NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal enables you to identify key  practices with families, each other, children, the intentional teaching and the continuous reflections that take place.

(Note: The evidence-based approach in relation to A&R and self-assessment is observe, discuss and sight. If you state a practice, you need to ensure it can be evidenced through observation, discussion and/or sighting.) 

“Think of it as tracking methods that make quality practices visible. It informs the quality improvement plan and allows you to easily track changes that you are making and keep tabs on your evidence. It’s fluid and agile and you don’t need to wait for an annual review to update it like you would with your QIP.” 

Self-assessment – an integral part of the continuous improvement process

Remember that self-assessment is an integral component of quality improvement and allows education and care services to:

  • Assess their current practices through self-assessment against the National Quality Standards (NQS)
  • Identify key practices that meet the benchmark of quality under the NQS
  • Identify evidence that supports key practices
  • Identify the practices that they can or should improve on

Quality area 7, Standard 2 (7.2.1) outlines that there must be an effective self-assessment and quality improvement plan in place:

“Quality services regularly monitor and review their performance to guide planning and improve service quality. This creates a shared understanding of the principles that guide the service and encourages continuous improvement in practice, policies and procedures.”

Source: National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating

So, while the ACECQA self assessment tool and NSW Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal are optional, it’s imperative that services have a structure in place to enable self-assessment as part of their continuous improvement process. 

Relevant reading/ resources:


Would you like to find out more about the self-assessment process?

Book into one of our two-hour webinars on this topic:

Understanding Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning


Prepare Your Team for Assessment and Rating


About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.



Posted on 10 Sep, 2023
I want to learn how to write the QIP based on the template provided in ACECQA website. If a step by step process and a sample would be provided.
Amani Adel Ghali
Posted on 10 Jul, 2023
I would like to learn more about the new A&R process.
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guild Insurance

CELA’s insurer of choice. Protecting Australian businesses and individuals with tailored insurance products and caring personal service.