Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care or children enrolled at a school who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help centres meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 



43 Curriculum standard: general

(1) The curriculum standard: general is the standard that requires every licensed service provider to whom this regulation applies to —

(a) plan, implement, and evaluate a curriculum that is designed to enhance children’s learning and development through the provision of learning experiences, and that is consistent with any curriculum framework prescribed by the Minister that applies to the service; and that

i. responds to the learning interests, strengths, and capabilities of enrolled children; and
ii. provides a positive learning environment for those children; and
iii. reflects an understanding of learning and development that is consistent with current research, theory, and practices in early childhood education; and
iv. encourages children to be confident in their own culture and develop an understanding, and respect for, other cultures; and
v. acknowledges and reflects the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua; and
vi. respects and acknowledges the aspirations of parents, family, and whānau; and

(b) make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the service provider collaborates with the parents and, where appropriate, the family or whānau of the enrolled children in relation to the learning and development of, and decision making about, those children; and

(c) obtain information and guidance from agencies with expertise in early childhood learning and development, to the extent necessary, to—

i. support the learning and development of enrolled children; and
ii. work effectively with parents and, where appropriate, family or whānau.

(2) Each licensed service provider to whom this regulation applies must comply with the curriculum standard: general.

Curriculum criteria documentation required

The criteria in this section have been grouped together by topic. Each criterion has also been given a short, descriptive title. The titles are provided only to help you navigate around more easily on the website – they do not form part of the criteria themselves.

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