How to spot an excellent early childhood education and care service

Library Home  >  General Information on Child Care
  Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2018

How to spot an excellent early childhood education and care service

Library Home  >  General Information on Child Care
  Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Sick of searching for child care? Then stop! Sign up for Vacancy Alert It's quick, easy and free

We all want the best for our children, and when it comes to child care, the National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care makes it easy to identify which services are a cut above the rest.

Under the NQF, only the very best services in Australia receive an Excellent rating from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). To apply for that rating, services must receive 'Exceeding National Quality Standard' in all seven quality areas, which means that children who attend Excellent-rated services are receiving truly outstanding education and care.

The Excellent rating is awarded for three years, and to give you a sense of what 'Excellent' means in practice, here are five early childhood education and care services that currently hold the rating and have held it previously.

Uniting Preschool Grafton, NSW

This service first received the Excellent rating in 2015, when it was known as UnitingCare Jack and Jill Preschool, and this year's rating recognises its achievements in:

  • Forming a strong professional relationship with Gummyaney Aboriginal Preschool, including 'Cultural Exchange' excursions
  • Using the 'CRANES Community Support Programs' and 'Kids STEPS Therapy Centre' for support as needed
  • Holding Children's Policy Meetings where children take notes and are helped to find solutions and take action
  • Offering a 'Feedback Tree' where children can 'record their thoughts and ideas on environments, activities and experiences at the service' to influence curriculum decision-making
  • Involving children in local community events and festivals

Chancery Lane Montessori, SA

This Adelaide-based centre was awarded the Excellent rating in 2014 and 2017 and ACECQA recognised its 'exceptional practices' in:

  • Delivering an education program that 'exposes children to sensorial exploration and literacy, numeracy, science and cultural learning opportunities', with opportunities for children to use natural materials and connect with the outside world
  • Strongly committing to the inclusion of children with additional needs
  • Partnering with Nature Play South Australia to promote children's development, resilience and risk-taking
  • Encouraging involvement with community organisations, such as 'Trees for Life'
  • Recognising and retaining educators thanks to its positive workplace culture and organisational values

Doveton College Early Learning Centre, VIC

This Victorian early learning centre was first awarded an Excellent rating in 2014, and last year it was recognised again for:

  • Its collaborative partnership with Brace, a not-for-profit Registered Training Organisation that helps families learn and gain new skills
  • Implementing the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale – Extension tool which helped the centre gauge the quality of its literacy, maths, science, environment and diversity practices
  • Implementing the Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Wellbeing scale to focus on adult-child interactions
  • Offering allied health services, parent support services, family support workers, maternal health care and family and children's services on site
  • Piloting a nine-week program called 'Baby College' to engage and support 'vulnerable mothers' and improve learning outcomes for their babies

Globe-Wilkins Preschool, NSW

This Council-operated, Marrickville-based service has received the Excellent rating twice and has been commended for:

  • Its strong commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through its practices, programs and the work of an Aboriginal educator
  • The opportunities it gives children to connect with and explore nature
  • The positive relationship it has with the local school, ensuring a sense of 'school community' and supporting families with the school transition process
  • Its commitment to critical self-reflection and the sharing of practices and learnings with other services

Canberra Girls Grammar School Early Learning Centre, ACT

Based in Canberra, this centre places value on play-based learning and received its first Excellent rating in 2014. In 2017, it was awarded the rating again for:

  • Enhancing children's learning experiences, through exposure to science, health, history, research and experimentation experiences, and guidance from the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
  • Providing children's development programs, including a gross motor program to enhance children's balance, coordination, eye-tracking, hand-eye coordination and kinaesthetic awareness
  • Using a 'Buddy Program' to help children transition to school and develop peer relationships. Children also visit the Junior School for weekly library and music lessons
  • Committing to the professional development and support of educators
  • Forming inclusive partnerships with children and families

There are lots more Excellent-rated services around the country, and to see the latest NQS ratings head to to view services in your area.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 20 July 2020

There's thousands
of amazing early
childhood care services on

and Child Care Vacancy Alert tells you as soon as a space comes up in one of your favourites.


Take the Quiz

The Child Care Guide covers everything you need to know about early childhood education and care no matter what stage of the process you are at.