Early Learning Regulatory Review
Learn about the Ministry of Education’s comprehensive review of the early learning regulatory system (the Review).
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The Early Learning Regulatory Review may result in changes being made to how the early learning sector operates.
- About the review
- Why we are doing the review(external link)
- Tranche two overview(external link)
- Tranche three overview(external link)
- Consultation on tranche one
- Early Learning Regulatory Review Advisory Group(external link)
- Contact(external link)
The Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the early learning regulatory system (the Review).
The Review is being undertaken in three tranches. The final regulations for tranche one were announced on 14 July 2021. The main aim of tranche one was to address some of the immediate gaps in our current system including those that pose a risk to children’s health, safety, and wellbeing. The changes in this tranche mostly impact new early learning services, service providers that have a change in circumstance, and services that have compliance issues.
Tranche two and three of the Review cover more complex areas that require more policy work. This includes addressing several commitments in the Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 and Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education. Tranche three is likely to include a complete rewrite of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 (the Regulations).
The purpose of the Review is to ensure the regulatory system is clear and fit for purpose to support high quality educational outcomes for our youngest tamariki. It is also designed to enhance the Ministry’s role as regulator and steward of the system. It is timely to review the Regulations for early learning, as the early learning sector has changed significantly since the Regulations came into force in 2008. The number of children participating in early learning has increased, and children are participating at younger ages and for longer hours. This has led to a rapid expansion of early learning services, with different levels of growth between service types.
For more information about the Review, please see these proactively released documents.
We have consulted on the following tranche two proposals:
- Implementing the new network management function under the Education and Training Act 2020: Changes relating to early childhood education (ECE) and ngā Kōhanga reo. For more updated information on this, please read Network Management.
- Changes to home-based ECE from the Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education, including regulatory changes to educator qualification requirements, and proposals on the role of co-ordinators and the maximum licence size.
- Regulating for 80% qualified teachers for teacher-led centres and hospital-based services.
- Strengthening the person responsible requirement for teacher-led centres and hospital-based services.
Public consultation on tranche two proposals took place between September and October 2021.
Tranche three covers remaining matters that require significant further work to develop such as:
- ensuring that children are at the centre of our system
- improving adult-to-child ratios
- reviewing remaining aspects of the licensing system
- evaluating the role of the Ministry of Education and other actors in the system to ensure high quality provision of education and care
- exploring how the regulatory system can support the Crown’s responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
We will begin work to scope tranche three in 2022.
Tranche three is likely to involve a complete rewrite of the Regulations to ensure that they are accessible and fit for purpose and will involve public consultation.
The Ministry held public consultation between November 2020 and February 2021 and received 258 survey responses and 21 written submissions, mostly from early learning services. The proposals were largely well supported.
Read more about the tranche one proposals that were consulted on in the Consultation Document below.
Read the final consultation report below.
Tranche one licensing criteria amendments
From 31 August 2021, the minimum room temperature required in early learning services increased from 16 degrees to 18 degrees Celsius in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.
This change took effect from 31 August 2021.
From 1 June 2022, services will also be required to have regard for the National Education and Learning Priorities (the NELP) in both their annual plan and recorded outcomes from self-review and internal evaluations.
Tranche one Regulation amendments: 30 July 2021
The following amendments came into force on 30 July 2021 and provide the Ministry with additional tools to manage non-compliance and clarify existing requirements, to ensure children’s health, safety and wellbeing.
- Enabling the Secretary to reclassify a service’s licence as provisional following an incident involving a child that the Secretary considers warrants investigation.
- Creating the ability to issue a written direction requiring a service to remedy an immediate health and safety risk.
- Allowing the Ministry to immediately suspend a service’s licence if the licensed early childhood service is no longer under the control of its licensed service provider.
- Clarifying that the fee for a new licence is payable upon application and is non-refundable.
- Consolidating existing person responsible requirements.
- Removing the requirement for a service provider to return their current licence if reclassified as provisional and the corresponding ability to suspend a licence if the licence is not returned.
The changes are expected to mostly impact new early learning services, service providers that have a change in circumstance, and services that have compliance issues.
Tranche one Regulation amendments: 1 February 2022
Following public consultation, Cabinet agreed to the following changes:
- Clarifying that amendments to change the identity of a licensed service provider must be applied for before any change is made to the service provider operating the early childhood service.
- Clarify the information that can be used to assess an application for a probationary licence includes both information provided by the applicant as well as any other information considered relevant.
- Creating a cancellation pathway based on a service’s provisional licence history.
We will update you of any changes to these processes before they are implemented later this year.
The Ministry has established an Early Learning Regulatory Review Advisory Group to contribute their perspectives and advice throughout the Review.
The Group includes representatives from early childhood education (ECE) services and peak sector bodies. Please follow this link for the Terms of Reference [PDF, 84 KB].
If you have any questions or suggestions about the Review, you are welcome to email Earlylearning.Regulatoryreview@education.govt.nz.
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