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

GMA7 Human resource management

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Governance Management and Administration criterion 7 

      Suitable human resource management practices are implemented.

      Documentation required:

      Processes for human resource management; including:

      • selection and appointment procedures;
      • job/role descriptions;
      • induction procedures into the service;
      • a system of regular appraisal;
      • provision for professional development;
      • a definition of serious misconduct; and
      • discipline/dismissal procedures.

      The criterion informs the Ministry of Education about the management’s commitment and capability to implement human resource management practices that will recruit, manage and develop competent staff, as the ongoing quality of the staff engaging with and educating children is important in a quality 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.

      Acting as a good employer is fundamental to the success of an ECE service. This covers the full range of employment activities from recruitment, through managing and developing staff, to the eventual ending of the employment relationship. Employers are expected to be familiar with all the relevant employment related legislation.

      While services will not have an employment relationship with contract staff or volunteers, the same principles apply to ensure that all adults engaging with or educating children understand the requirements of the role and expectations of them.

      NZ Government Business website carries a range of resources and tools for employers covering recruiting, appointing and managing staff. 

      Leadership is a key to successful people management and development in ECE services. Good practice is likely to include a model of leadership where:

      • Managers have a range of skills and knowledge to support them in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.
      • A team approach to leadership supports growing staff capability.
      • Managers have a good understanding of employment practices and are committed to employing staff who fit well with the philosophy and context of the service.
      • Staff are encouraged and supported to individually review their teaching practices or critically reflect as a group.
      • Managers support and appropriately resource professional development.
      • Managers provide a supportive, caring, open and respectful environment, and actively advocate for, and support bicultural development and associated practices.

      The following are highly effective employment practices:

      Recruitment and appointment of staff

      • Clear policies and procedures that reflect the requirements of current legislation and provide managers with useful guidance
      • Regularly reviewed job descriptions and appointment policies and procedures
      • Job descriptions and person specifications that reflect the philosophy and needs of the service and, for teachers, link to the Registered Teachers Criteria
      • Before confirming an appointment, referees are contacted; qualifications verified; and police vetting checks are completed.

      Support for staff development

      • Orientation and ongoing support programme for new staff
      • Services proactively support staff with ongoing professional developmentServices support Provisionally Registered Teachers to become fully registered and
      • support staff newly appointed to leadership positions
      • Philosophy, goals and professional development are clearly linked
      • Professional development is closely aligned to individual appraisal goals
      • Professional development is a priority and appropriately resourced

      Improving staff performance

      • Appraisal practices are part of an annual cycle linked to professional development and includes provision for ongoing coaching or mentoring.
      • Processes for teachers are aligned to the Registered Teachers Criteria and expectations are made explicit through performance indicators linked to job descriptions.
      • Appraisal process includes opportunities for self reflection.
      • Staff, in conjunction with the appraiser, identify specific and measurable goals, and progress towards achieving these is monitored through observations, conversations and ongoing feedback.

      The Ministry of Education provides further information on staff employment.

      Tātaiako outlines competencies for teachers’ relationship and engagement with māori learners in ECE services and schools

      There are some specific requirements for ECE services contained with the Education Act and ECE Regulations. These are:

      Police vetting and safety checks

      There are police vetting and safety checking requirements for all early learning services under the Education Act 1989 and the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. See more details about police vetting and safety checking.

      Reporting to NZ Teachers Council

      The Education Act 1989 states that an employer must provide a mandatory report to the New Zealand Teachers Council in certain circumstances. Failing to file a report is an offence, which carries a fine of up to $5000, unless there is reasonable justification. Service providers can find out more about their responsibilities for mandatory reporting on the NZ Teachers’ Council website.

      Service providers need to make a mandatory report when:

      • An employee who is a registered teacher is dismissed for any reason
      • An employee who is a registered teacher resigns from a teaching position if, within the 12 months preceding the resignation, the employer had advised the teacher that it was dissatisfied with, or intended to investigate, any aspect of the teacher’s conduct or competence
      • A registered teacher ceases to be employed by the employer, and within the following 12 months the employer receives a complaint about the teacher's conduct or competence while he or she was an employee
      • the employer has reason to believe that the registered teacher has engaged in serious misconduct
      • the employer is satisfied that, despite completing competence procedures with the registered teacher, the teacher has not reached the required competence level.

      Information on mandatory reporting to the NZ Teachers’ Council.

      A Conduct and Competence Process Guide provides a comprehensive coverage of the process and requirements.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Other useful sites for help with employment issues:

      The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides comprehensive advice for employers through its Employer Relations website. This gives you access to such tools such as an Employment Agreement Builder and a Holiday and Leave calculator, and resources including:

      The Employment Relations Service website has a wealth of information. This includes templates for letters to appoint staff, fact sheets, employment agreement guides and help calculating parental leave for your staff. There is also an ‘Ask a question’ feature. This site is highly recommended - there is a huge range of resources to help.

      The State Services Commission website has a section on Equal Employment Opportunities (EEC), including EEC documents produced for the New Zealand public service.

      The Human Rights Commission website provides information about equal opportunities, Including a discrimination and complaints guide.

      The New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) is a union that negotiates collective employment agreements on behalf of many early childhood teachers. As a condition of receiving higher levels of government funding, teachers must be paid at a rate that is at least as high as the lowest step on their ‘consenting parties early childhood collective agreement’.

      Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand provides members with information and advice on industrial issues, including management handbooks and other resources.

      The Early Childhood Council provides members with information and advice on industrial issues, including a range of resources.

      The NZ Kindergarten Association provides information on employment issues as well as a range of resources.

      The Inland Revenue Department is a good starting point for finding out about obligations and entitlements concerning tax.