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 April 2021.


GMA8 Annual plan

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Governance Management and Administration criterion 8

      An annual plan guides the service's operation.

      Documentation required:

      An annual plan identifying 'who', 'what', and 'when' in relation to key tasks undertaken each year.


      An annual plan is part of good business practice and will show the Ministry of Education how the service intends to ensure ongoing compliance with all regulatory requirements and criteria.

      Amended 21 July 2011

  • 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 annual plan describes what the service will do in the next 12 months. It is detailed enough to cover day-to-day events, for example, excursions, staff appraisals or professional development.

      The annual plan should be created in consultation with the Person Responsible so that the teaching and learning needs of the children can be met. In developing the annual plan the following questions can be asked:

      • What purchases need to be made this year?
      • Is any major maintenance work required?
      • Will our staffing needs change?
      • Is any fundraising required?
      • How will the service better engage with their (parent) community

      The annual plan should be developed at the same time as the annual budget.

      Childcare Centre Annual Management Plan Example [DOC, 47 KB]

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      In addition to the required annual plan, services may also have a strategic plan.

      • Strategic plans are not a licensing requirement. However, having a plan that looks beyond ‘this year’ to the medium or long term can be very helpful for services. Strategic planning enables a service to determine its direction and what it hopes to achieve in the future.
      • Strategic plans are best developed in consultation with all stakeholders, e.g. parents/whanau, management committees/staff.
      • Strategic plans should be regularly reviewed and modified. Progress could be recorded, perhaps on the bottom or back of the annual plan.