close open in new window Early Years QM Cycle
The QM Cycle


The national agenda

This guidance complements and supports the agenda of ‘Every Child Matters’ to ensure young children grow up safe; healthy; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; and with economic wellbeing. It is fully consistent with the principles informing ‘Every Parent Matters’ and the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage1 and Ofsted inspection frameworks.

Benefits of the Quality Mark

Achieving a Quality Mark offers valuable public recognition and ‘a pat on the back’ for the day-to-day work of all practitioners in the setting. It celebrates the work of everyone involved with the setting in making progress in improving the quality of its provision for the young children in its care and the standards they achieve. It represents an external validation and acknowledgement of good provision, practice, progress and performance and is an award recognised by Ofsted. All early years providers should continually think about how to improve what they are offering to young children and their families. This will include using self-evaluation tools against quality criteria, or becoming involved in local authority and national quality improvement initiatives. An early years provider using this guidance to work towards achieving the Quality Mark award will find that the process of audit and self review achieves this, while also adding value to its current provision and practice and supporting overall improved outcomes for children.

The process of rigorous self-evaluation, followed by action planning and regular review to identify impact, is a key and proven strength of the award. Quality Mark activity will complement and help to integrate other local and national initiatives being undertaken to improve young children’s abilities and achievements. Each early years provider controls the timescale for making its submission. The length of time taken to achieve accreditation will vary according to a provider’s starting point and its capacity to demonstrate progress.

Download the Early Years self-audit template.

All practitioners, whether paid or voluntary, should be involved in helping to achieve a Quality Mark and can benefit from its value in continuing professional development (CPD).2 Involvement will contribute to developing and employing generic leadership and management skills such as auditing, action-planning, monitoring and evaluating, in a practical context and with a tangible outcome.

Management committees, governing bodies, or their equivalents will find that work undertaken to achieve and sustain a Quality Mark offers a practical context in which to monitor and evaluate the quality of provision and practice in the setting and demonstrate how they are actively carrying out their ‘critical friend’ role.

1 The Early Years Foundation Stage brings together Birth to Three Matters, the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage and the National Standards for day-care into a single framework for children from birth to the age of 5.

2 For example, involvement can contribute evidence to support candidates seeking Early Years professional status.