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, 2.2 MB] and printed.
The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.
HS15 Noise levels
Health and safety practices criterion 15
§ All practicable steps are taken to ensure that noise levels do not unduly interfere with normal speech and/or communication, or cause any child attending distress or harm.
The criterion aims to uphold the health and wellbeing of children by ensuring that steps are taken, when necessary, to manage high noise levels in day-to-day operation (as in the case of ongoing construction next to the service).
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.
Good planning and design will often prevent noise level concerns.
Noise levels can be reduced indoors by good acoustic design and materials.
Establish expectations with children about what is an acceptable level of noise inside. Early childhood education and care centres with high numbers of enrolled children may wish to have a noise level monitoring device.
It is useful to create some smaller group activity spaces using partitions or shelving and visual dividers with floor coverings to create quiet activity zones away from main foot traffic routes and noise generating activities such as music areas.
If early childhood education and care centres have any concerns about noise levels inside a centre, they are able to contact the local regional Public Health officer for advice.
The World Health Organization (1999) has recommended maximum noise exposures in early childhood education and care centre environments.
Further information about noise is available in the licensing criteria guidance: PF12 Lighting, ventilation, heating and acoustic materials.
Exposure to excess environmental noise in the outdoor space can be reduced by:
- Good site selection
- Location and design of playgrounds on site
- Acoustic fencing and plantings
If early childhood education and care centres have any concerns about noise levels, they are able to contact the local regional Public Health officer for advice.
The World Health Organization (1999) has recommended maximum noise exposures in early childhood education and care centre environments
Beware of environmental noise from outside the service such as roadworks or construction nearby and try to ensure that the negative effect is reduced where possible.
If possible, staff should attempt to ascertain the length of time the noise might occur and if appropriate make contingency plans as to:
- How the risks to children and adults will be mitigated
- How this information will be communicated to parents
- When it might be appropriate to temporarily relocate the centre
Contact your local Ministry of Education office to determine what steps would need to be taken in exceptional circumstances such as these.