Qualification requirements

Early learning services must meet qualification requirements for licensing. The requirements vary depending on the type of early learning service.

Different types of early learning service

Teacher-led centre-based and hospital-based services

In teacher-led centre-based and hospital-based services, the person responsible must have a recognised early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification and a current practising certificate.

At least 50% of required staff must also have a recognised ECE teaching qualification. Where 50% does not equate to a whole number, services must round up.

Teachers need not be employed full-time to count towards the 50% requirement. A part-time teacher with a recognised ECE teaching qualification can be counted at a maximum of two different licensed services.

A service can count one person who is in their final year of study towards the 50% requirement, provided they are enrolled in an approved programme that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

Home-based services

In home-based services, the person responsible (or co-ordinator) must have a recognised early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification and a current practising certificate.

Educators do not need to be qualified, but a higher quality funding rate is available to home-based services employing educators with specified minimum qualifications. Further information is set out in the ECE Funding Handbook.

Quality funding rate for home-based services

Playcentres

In Playcentres, the person responsible must have a recognised qualification specified in the New Zealand Gazette.

Qualifications for Persons Responsible in a Playcentre

There are also group supervision qualification requirements and these are set out in the ECE Funding Handbook. 

Supervision requirements in the ECE Funding Handbook

The group supervision qualification requirements are also illustrated in infographics on the Playcentre Aotearoa website.

Supervision requirements in infographics - Playcentre website

Recognised early childhood education teaching qualifications

An early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification is strictly defined as one recognised by the Teaching Council for registration purposes. This means:

  • a NZ ECE teaching qualification, or
  • an overseas qualification assessed as comparable to a NZ ECE teaching qualification by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

NZ ECE teaching qualifications

Current approved programmes that result in recognised NZ ECE teaching qualifications are listed on the TeachNZ website.

List of approved NZ teaching programmes - Teachnz website

Overseas qualifications

Before any qualification awarded outside New Zealand can be recognised for 50% or person responsible requirements, it must first be assessed and deemed comparable to a NZ ECE teaching qualification.

This is called an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) and is carried out by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Teachers must request an IQA from NZQA directly. The result is a recognition statement that explains the qualification in the NZ context.

If the assessment results in comparability with a NZ teaching qualification, the recognition statement will state that the qualification meets the core knowledge components of a NZ initial teacher education programme. It will also state whether the qualification is considered to be an ECE, primary or secondary qualification.

International Qualifications Assessment - NZQA website

Discretionary pathway registration

In some cases, the Teaching Council may consider a person as satisfactorily trained to teach for registration purposes through the discretionary pathway, despite a person’s overseas qualifications being assessed as not comparable to a NZ teaching qualification.

Registration and practising certificates are not sector specific. However if the discretionary pathway decision was made after August 2018, and the council considers there to be enough evidence to show a person has completed sufficient ECE teaching studies to the appropriate level, then the letter confirming registration via the discretionary pathway will state this. Only where this is specifically stated in the letter can that person be considered as holding a recognised qualification.

Registration via the discretionary pathway - Teaching Council website

Teaching qualifications not recognised

Primary and secondary teaching qualifications

Primary and secondary teaching qualifications are not recognised for person responsible in any type of early learning service, or the 50% requirement in teacher-led centre-based or hospital-based services.

Teachers with a recognised primary teaching qualification and a current practising certificate can be counted for higher rates of funding.

Recognising primary teachers for funding

NZQA’s pre-approved list of qualifications

NZQA have published a pre-approved list of overseas teaching qualifications which do not need an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) for registration purposes. This list was developed for the school sector. It cannot be used by teachers wanting to count towards qualification requirements in the early learning sector because the sector (eg ECE) is not specified alongside each qualification on the list.

Record keeping

Services must keep records to demonstrate that they are meeting qualification requirements:

  • Copies of each teacher’s qualifications (award certificates).
  • Copies of NZQA International Qualification Assessment (IQA) recognition statements.
  • Documentation proving teachers are employed by the service. For example, employment agreements or letters of appointment.
  • Rosters showing when teachers are on duty.
  • Documentation for part-time teachers employed at two or more services. For example, a letter from the part-time teacher confirming which 2 services can count them towards qualification requirements.
  • Documentation for teachers in their final year of study. For example, a letter from the teacher or training provider confirming that they are enrolled in their final year final year of a programme that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

More information

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 - New Zealand Legislation website

If you have questions, please contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Local Ministry offices

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