How documentation can help improve ratings in NQS Quality Area 1

You’ve studied Quality Area 1 (QA1) of the National Quality Standard (NQS), and your service uses an approved framework to create child-centred learning opportunities for all its children. Educators use intentional teaching and scaffolding methods, and you’ve implemented a cycle of assessment and critical reflection to ensure that teaching practices positively impact child development. Your educators also try to keep families informed of updates in learning and care, but your QA1 ratings aren’t going up. What are you doing wrong?

You may be making one critical mistake: lack of documentation. 

If your educators haven’t been recording all the planning they’ve done, or your centre does not have a process for keeping records of individual child development, getting high ratings will eventually be a problem. Without this essential documentation, assessors have no evidence that you’re following NQS guidelines, nor can they determine that you’re implementing them in the operation of your centre. Without adequate proof you’re meeting standards, it is less likely for quality assessment officers to rate your service as Meeting NQS.

In short, if educators are not documenting child activities regularly: 


Child-centred learning opportunities – help children in your care and boost QA1 ratings

So which parts of the process should you be documenting and how?

Following the Early Years Planning Cycle is a great way to ensure learning activities are based on each child’s current interests and abilities. It demonstrates you’re meeting Element 1.1.1 (Approved Learning Framework). Having documented proof that you’re following this cycle will further show NQS assessors that you’re fulfilling Element 1.2.1 (Intentional Teaching) and 1.2.3 (Child-directed Learning).

A lack of proper documentation won’t just hurt your QA1 ratings; it will also make it very difficult to adhere to this cycle effectively. But documenting every step of the learning cycle would be very labour-intensive if done manually. Trying to recall interactions at the end of the day would result in several missed learning moments. Documenting learning from unplanned experiences and keeping track of details for each child would require a Herculean effort.

Yet, the number one thing you can do to improve your QA1 ratings is to use active documentation. Fortunately, using the Playground app makes this seemingly monumental task much more manageable and approachable.

What does documentation for each step look like with the Playground app?


In this step, you could create a portfolio for each child. You can create and maintain this in the Playground app and update it in real-time, collecting all relevant child details in a dedicated folder. Being a cloud-based platform, all pictures and videos in the child’s portfolio are easily shared with families, contributing to Element 1.3.3 (Information for Families).


Child-centred learning involves analyzing and understanding each child’s personal development, meeting Element 1.1.2 (Child-centred Learning). You can document individual learning experiences and interactions with children that prove the use of open-ended questions and children making their own choices, fulfilling Element 1.1.3 (Program Learning Opportunities). You can document parent feedback as well as your own observations.

Intentional teaching plans can be prepared in
Playground to support the planning cycle and extend child learning opportunities.


Having documentation of what children have achieved and where their interests currently lie all in one place makes planning much more accessible. With all this information in the Playground app, it’s easy to create weekly plans for each child. Basing your weekly plan on these observations demonstrates your application of Element 1.2.2 (Responsive Teaching) and 1.3.1 (Assessment and Planning Cycle). 


When you put your teaching plan into action, you can document how learning experiences impacted children. Since you’re documenting things in real-time, it’s easy to record how unplanned activities added to a child’s understanding – Element 1.2.2 (Responsive Teaching).


You can also document evidence demonstrating which learning outcomes were achieved. Feedback from children and families further confirms successes and informs areas to work on in future planning – Element 1.3.2 (Critical Reflection).

Secure, centralised documentation – accessible to educators, families and assessors

Using Planning & Programming (P&P) software reduces the time educators spend manually logging and planning child activities. It also ensures you’ll have documented proof assessors can review when conducting rating assessments. Easily linking with the Home app makes sharing with families a cinch.

The QikKids platform stores cloud-based platform stores everything in a secure, centralised directory of child portfolios and relevant learning outcomes. This helps compile an NQS “Wall of Evidence” to prove to assessors that you’re following NSQ QA1.

To ensure you’re documenting everything you need to, refer to the handy self-assessment checklist within the guide and get help to boost your centre’s ratings.

For more information and practical tips on how you can use QikKids to assist with documentation, download our latest guide on How to Improve NQS Ratings in Quality Area 1.

Bonus content in the guide: 

A handy self-assessment checklist to prepare your staff for the Assessment and Rating process.

Download Guide