Knowing the ratio requirements for an ECE service

Learn about the ratio requirements services must adhere to as part of the licensing criteria.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • All early learning services
  • Service managers
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako

Ratio requirements are part of the licensing criteria and are regulated by the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, issued under section 636 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

Section 636 of the Education and Training Act 2020 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

The adult-to-child ratio

ECE services must always have a certain number of adults for the number of children attending. This is called the adult-to-child ratio. The ratio is a critical part of running an ECE service to meet the requirements of the ECE Regulation.

The ratio means that there can be quality teaching and that the children are safe.

The adult-to-child ratio must be kept at all times. This includes when the service takes children on an excursion or when adults go on lunch or other entitled breaks. To cover breaks, services may wish to employ additional staff, or bring in staff from non-contact time whilst other staff take their breaks.

Go to Schedule 2 of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations to find out the adult-to-child ratio for your ECE service. Schedule 2 explains the differences in the ratios. For example, there are different ratios for children of certain ages and for different kinds of ECE services.

Schedule 2 of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations – New Zealand Legislation(external link)

Check the ECE Funding handbook for more information on playcentres’ adult-to-child ratios.

ECE Funding handbook

First-aid requirements and other ratios

Go to the ECE Licensing Criteria and the ECE Funding Handbook for more information on staffing ratio requirements. For example, some services must have a one-to-25 adult-to-child ratio for first aid qualifications. This means there must be one staff member who has approved qualifications in first aid for every 25 children present at all times.

ECE Licensing Criteria

ECE Funding Handbook

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