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, 2.1 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


HS15 Noise levels

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      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).

  • 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.

      Managing noise levels will benefit everyone at the service. Establish expectations with children about what is an acceptable level of noise inside.

      Services with high numbers of enrolled children may wish to have a noise level monitoring device.

      Quieter spaces for children can be created simply by using low partitions. Further information is available for the criterion PF12 – Heating, lighting, noise and ventilation.

      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 this information will be communicated to parents
      • When it might be appropriate to relocate the centre.

      Contact your local Ministry of Education office to determine what steps would need to be taken in exceptional circumstances.