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. 


GMA5 Philosophy statement

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Governance Management and Administration criterion 5

      A philosophy statement guides the service's operation.

      Documentation required:

      A written statement expressing the service's beliefs, values, and attitudes about the provision of early childhood education and care.


      The criterion aims to ensure that the service has information available for parents and staff about the philosophy that underpins their provision of early childhood education and care. This information supports the collaboration between parents and the service to achieve positive outcomes for children.

      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.

      A Philosophy Statement expresses the fundamental beliefs, vision, values and ideals a service operates under. It is a core document providing the basis for decisions on both how the service is managed and how the service operates on a day-to-day basis.

      It needs to be easy to understand by everyone including families and members of the community and should be clearly displayed.

      Every Philosophy Statement will be different but could include:

      • the learning outcomes expected for children
      • why the service was established
      • what values underpin the service.

      The Philosophy Statement is a living document that should be reviewed regularly as part of a service’s self-review process.

      More information on philosophy statements can be found in the Ministry of Education’s publication Community based early childhood education/Governing and managing.

      The Education Review Office(external link) produced a report on service philosophy statements that may be of use when developing a philosophy statement.