Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment

Quality Area 3 focuses on the physical environment in order to:

    • positively contribute to children’s wellbeing, creativity and developing independence
    • providing a diverse range of experiences that promote children’s play, learning and development
    • keeping children safe
    • creating/organising spaces to reduce the risk of injury

The way in which out of school hours care settings design, equip and arrange their environments determines how children use space/s and resources and can impact their behaviours and interactions between children and adults.

The two standards within this quality area include the service facilities and the use of the service’s physical environment to support children’s experiences.  These standards are crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the NQF because:

  • inclusive built and natural environments in indoor and outdoor spaces, when appropriately resourced, promote play-based learning
  • well maintained, fit-for-purpose facilities keep children safe and support each child’s access to facilities and participation in activities/experiences
  • the physical environment significantly impacts on the quality of children’s experiences and encourages children to become environmentally responsible.

Under the NQF an important consideration for out of school hours care settings are appropriate areas and resources for children to rest and relax.

Ref: DEEWR. Guide to the National Quality Framework. (2018).

Outside School Hours Care Online Professional Learning

Below is the ECA Learning Hub online professional learning designed for NSW OSHC educators that further unpacks a key component of Quality Area 3 – Physical environment.

The ECA Learning Hub is an online Learning Management System – all your learning will be saved in the one location and can be downloaded and printed for your records.

Environments in outside school hours care
Price: Free |Duration: 60 minutes |Description: A collection of videos showcasing a range of OSHC environments across NSW.
Supporting children to become environmentally responsible

Price: Free |

Duration: 60 minutes


A practical module designed to support educators’ own understanding around environmental issues, sustainability and investigates tangible ways for services to be environmentally responsible in outside school hour’s care setting.

Watch the trailer here

Physical environments

Elements Content Descriptor
3.1 Design The design of the facilities is appropriate for the operation of a service
3.1.1 Fit for purpose Outdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures and fittings are suitable for their purpose, including supporting the access of every child.
3.1.2 Upkeep Premises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained.
3.2 Use The service environment is inclusive, promotes competence and supports exploration and play-based learning.
3.2.1 Inclusive environment Outdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child’s participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.
3.2.2 Resources support play-based learning Resources, materials and equipment allow for multiple uses, are sufficient in number, and enable every child to engage in play-based learning.
3.2.3 Environmentally responsible The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

Additional free resources

ACECQA. (2018). Information sheet: quality area 3 – keeping pets in education and care services

ACECQA . (2018) OSHC Quality Area 3 – poster.

ACECQA. (2015). We Hear you: Physical Environment.

ACECQA. (2015). We Hear you: supporting indoor and outdoor play

Kidsafe website

Vichealth. (2012). What at the Consequences of limited play – video.