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. 


C1 Curriculum consistent

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum criterion 1

      The service curriculum is consistent with any prescribed curriculum framework that applies to the service.

      Documentation required


      Criterion ensures that there is a link between the prescribed curriculum framework and what happens at the service.

  • 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.

      The curriculum framework is the Principles/Ngā Kaupapa Whakahaere and Strands/Ngā Taumata Whakahirahira of Te Whāriki.

      Te Whāriki continues to provide the basis for consistent high-quality curriculum delivery in the diverse range of early childhood services in Aotearoa/New Zealand. As such, it is the best guidance to meet this criterion. In this document, curriculum is described as "the sum total of the experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development." (p. 10).

      The ways in which each early childhood education service works with the curriculum framework will vary. Each service will continue to develop its own curriculum and programmes that reflect the things that are important to the children, their families, the staff, the community and the philosophy of the specific setting. It is important for services to be able to identify how everything we do in an early childhood setting works towards meeting the curriculum framework for the children and families that attend.

      Other guidance, like Kei Tua o te Pae, build from Te Whāriki to provide more detail about ways to do this.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to consider:

      • How do we know that our service empowers children?
      • How do we reflect the wider world of family and community within our service curriculum?
      • How do we know that our service curriculum reflects the holistic way children learn and grow? What does holistic learning look like?
      • How do we know that our service curriculum is embedded in reciprocal and responsive relationships?
      • How do you learn from your service curriculum and what you notice from children’s learning to deepen your understanding of the principles and strands?
      • How is our understanding of what the strands mean in our service guided by the principles?
      • Where does self-review fit into the curriculum framework?
      • Are our understandings of the principles and strands leading us to ask questions like “why do we do things this way?”
      • How does curriculum leadership happen in our team?
      • How do we bring our understanding of Te Whāriki to bear when reviewing our service philosophy?