Laws governing early learning
The rules governing early childhood education in New Zealand.
|Level of compliance
In order to operate, a licensed or certificated early learning service must meet or exceed the rules governing early childhood education.
- The 3 layers of rules
- The Education and Training Act 2020
- The regulations
- The criteria
- Compliance with the regulations and criteria
- More information
There are 3 layers of rules governing early childhood education. From the broadest to the most specific, they are:
- the Education and Training Act 2020
- the regulations
- the criteria
We provide guidance on how to meet or exceed these rules.
We also supply the early learning sector with information, explanations, examples and reminders on this website and in our Early Learning Bulletin.
The Education and Training Act 2020 applies to all levels of education, including early learning, schools and tertiary/vocational education.
Regulations are developed based on the Act.
Network approval has a specific set of regulations.
There are specific set of of regulations relating to the licensing and certification of early learning services and playgroups.
The criteria are based on the regulations and are the day-to-day standards that services must follow in order to retain their licence or certificate.
There are different criteria for different service types:
Licensing criteria for centre-based education and care services 2008 (updated September 2022)
Licensing criteria for home-based education and care services 2008 (updated September 2022)
Licensing criteria for hospital-based education and care services 2008 (updated September 2022)
Licensing criteria for kōhanga reo affiliated with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (updated September 2022)
Certification criteria for playgroups (updated September 2022)
Below is a graphic showing how the Act, the regulations and the criteria apply to early learning services.
When an early learning service does not meet these rules, we use a range of tools to address the non-compliance.
Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback