Learning Programme Quality Assessment Tool

Measures the quality of group learning programmes targeting children aged 3 to 5 years.


The quality of an early learning programme is a significant factor in how much children benefit. The ELOM Learning Programme Quality Assessment (LPQA) Tool has been designed to measure the quality of group learning programmes targeting children aged 3 to 5 years.

Assessors spend 2 hours observing the programme, and score their observations on a three-point scale (inadequate, basic, and good) across five areas:

  • The learning environment: learning materials and classroom set-up.
  • Learning and teaching: session planning and progress monitoring.
  • Relationships and interactions: practitioner interactions with children, child interactions, and discipline.
  • Curriculum: curriculum content, alignment with the National Curriculum Framework Early Learning and Development Areas and activity plans.
  • Teaching strategies: teaching techniques and actions.

At the same time, the assessor can record the teacher’s education and qualifications, physical infrastructure, group sizes and the practitioner-to-child ratio.

The LPQA tool can be used to rate the quality of early learning programmes and identify areas for improvement, to help interpret factors that contribute to improved child outcomes (when used in combination with the ELOM child assessment tools), to track improvement over time and to report on population level progress in ensuring universal access to quality early childhood education.

This tool is designed to be used by an experienced ECD practitioner or trained assessor. There are no formal accreditation requirements for assessors, but basic training on the use of the tool is recommended.


There are two ways in which you can access this tool: Download the pdf version of this tool OR apply to access the digital tool. The ELOM User Journey and Pricing Packages provide further information on the use and cost of using the digital tool. 


This technical report describes the development of the Learning Programme Quality Assessment tool, psychometry, scoring and administration requirements.


The Learning Programme Quality Tool involves direct observation by an assessor, in the classroom for a minimum of two hours. It should take place when the following can be observed:

  • free choice, small-group activities like indoor playtime
  • at least one large-group activity e.g. morning ring, story or music time

The tool can be administered digitally or using a paper based questionnaire.

This tool is useful for anyone wanting to reliably measure the quality of early learning programmes, such as ECD organisations, researchers and M&E specialists. The tool can be used to monitor programme implementation and to identify and support the strengths of a programme and address weaknesses.

The ELOM LPQA requires direct observation in the classroom (including reference to records) for a minimum of two hours at a time of day that free choice or small group activities (indoor playtime) and at least one large group activity (morning ring, story or music time) can be observed. This is in line with all well-known quality tools.

The tool is for use with group learning programmes delivered directly to children aged 3 to 5 years. It is not suitable for use in programmes where the parent mediates the early learning experience. It focuses only on the direct implementation of the learning programme/curriculum activities and not on other important aspects of service quality such as compliance with local regulations, parent involvement, nutrition, support and referrals provided to children, and overall programme leadership and management.

Selection of items was informed by a review of the literature and drew on the key classroom focus areas of established observational measuresOther observation tools that have been widely used to assess the quality of early learning environments which will support construct validityrefers to whether a scale or test adequately measures the construct (e.g. maths ability) it aims to assess. While definitions of high quality early learning programmes vary somewhat according to context, there is general agreement that the learning environment set up and resourcing, curriculum, approaches to extending learningthis refers to activities and resources in the classroom that help children to acquire new skills and knowledge, teacher child interactions and relationships are critical contributors to programme quality and child learning outcomes. The selection of items also drew on local experience as well as South Africa’s National Curriculum Framework, and National Early Learning and Development Standards.

Each item is scored on a scale of 0 (inadequate), 1 (basic) or 2 (good) to provide some range of scores, but also to take into account that more nuanced and extended scales require experienced and well-qualified ECD assessors. Scores on all items in each subscale are summed to derive a Total Subscale Score. Five subscale total scores can thus be derived. These are the most important scores in the LPQ as they show the strengths and weaknesses of the programme and are of assistance when providing guidance for improvement. The subscale total scores are then summed to derive the total programme quality score.

Training is strongly advised for all users, but particularly for those who are not experienced ECD assessors, to reduce subjective interpretation and ensure sound inter-rater reliability. A training manual is available. No formal accreditation is needed.

Costs depend on the amount of support required from the DataDrive2030 team and a cost estimate is provided once a request is received. We aim to keep the costs as low as possible and to subsidise costs for smaller non-profit organisations to enable their use of the tools.

This tool is available in all of South Africa’s 11 official languages.


The following case studies illustrate how the ELOM Learning Programme Quality Tool can be used.