Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

The Education Act 1989 S310 defines an early childhood education and care centre as premises 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 being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6—

  1. by the day or part of a day; but
  2. 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 Act 1989 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008, 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, 719 KB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in May 2016.


Licensing Criteria Cover

C7 Curriculum responsive

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum criterion 7

      The service curriculum is inclusive, and responsive to children as confident and competent learners. Children’s preferences are respected, and they are involved in decisions about their learning experiences.

      Documentation required


      Criterion is a means of ensuring that the service curriculum is consistent with the prescribed curriculum framework.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      A service curriculum that is inclusive ensures all children know that the early childhood service they attend is a place where they belong and where they feel valued for who they are.

      The service curriculum treats all children, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, and abilities, as competent and confident learners who are active participants in their own learning. Supportive, responsive educators guide children to make choices in, and contribute to the planning of, the programme in an early childhood service.

      The curriculum will enable children with special needs to be actively engaged in learning with and alongside the other children in the service.

  • Practice
    • Practice

      Examples of what this might look like in practice:

      • Children participate in decisions that affect them, choosing their own challenges and learning opportunities from a range of resources and equipment
      • Educators respect children’s choices and accept them wherever possible
      • The environment is set up so that children can independently access equipment and resources
      • The environment includes a wide range of learning experiences from which children can choose familiar activities or try new challenges
      • Educators demonstrate, in practice, that they regard each child as competent, and assist children in making informed decisions by providing them with the information they need
      • Children with special needs are fully engaged in the programme working with and alongside other children in the service
      • Children interact positively with other children of different ages, backgrounds, gender, abilities, and/or ethnic groups.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to consider:

      • How do the tools/resources in your service curriculum reflect what parents/whānau value as learning for their children?
      • How do you explain to others what real choice for children is? Who answers this question?
      • How do we explain to others our expectations and understanding in relation to children’s learning and development?
      • How does the way our day is set up influence the experiences for children? How are children empowered to influence how the day is organised?
      • Where do the notions of child-centred, child-initiated, and child-directed learning fit into all of this?
      • How do we support and enable children who are non-verbal to make choices within our programme?
      • How does our service curriculum include strategies to fully include children with special needs?

  • Gallery
    • Gallery

      Children choose their own challenges and learning opportunities

      View larger image [JPG, 219 KB]

      Children choose their own challenges and learning opportunities from a range of resources and equipment.

      Educators regard each child as competent.

      View larger image [JPG, 125 KB]

      Educators regard each child as competent.

      Children choose their own challenges and learning opportunities

      View larger image [JPG, 213 KB]

      Children choose their own challenges and learning opportunities from a range of resources and equipment.