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. 


HS17 Excursions

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 17

      Whenever children leave the premises on an excursion:

      • assessment and management of risk is undertaken, and adult:child ratios are determined accordingly. Ratios are not less than the required adult:child ratio;
      • the first aid requirements in criterion HS25 are met in relation to those children and any children remaining at the premises;
      • parents have given prior written approval to their child's participation and of the proposed ratio for:
      • regular excursions at the time of enrolment; and
      • special excursions prior to the excursion taking place; and
      • there are communication systems in place so that people know where the children are, and adults can communicate with others as necessary.

      When children leave the premises on a regular or special excursion, the excursion must be approved by the Person Responsible.

      Documentation required

      A record of excursions that includes:

      • the names of adults and children involved;
      • the time and date of the excursion;
      • the location and method of travel;
      • assessment and management of risk;
      • adult:child ratios;
      • evidence of parental permission and approval of adult:child ratios for regular excursions;
      • evidence of parental permission and approval of adult:child ratios for special excursions; and
      • the signature of the Person Responsible giving approval for the excursion to take place.

      The criterion is underpinned by the understanding that excursions outside the licensed premises are a valuable aspect of the service’s curriculum. The inherent risks involved in outings and excursions from the licensed premises must be managed to uphold the safety and well-being of children.

      Amended September 2022

  • 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 responsibility for the assessment of risk lies with the service, and parents should also take responsibility by giving their written approval to the excursion and the proposed ratios.

      See also the Guidance for HS12 - Hazard Management

      Risk Assessment:

      For regular excursions, the risk assessment can be a new plan or an update of a previous assessment so any new risks are identified. This should be made available for parents to sight at the time of enrolment.

      A special excursion requires a specific risk assessment and development of a management plan prior to the excursion because the environment and circumstances in which these occur will be different each time.

      If children are left at the centre during an excursion, the teaching staff:children ratios must be met and there must be a first aid qualified staff member at the centre.

      Documentation Guidance:

      Permission for special excursions needs to be sought for each excursion.

      Written approval for regular excursions may be obtained via a signature on the Enrolment Form, provided the information also informs parents of the planned adult:child ratio.

      Full records of both regular and special excursions should be kept for the current year plus one additional year.

      To assist in planning and documenting your excursions, some sample documents are provided below. These can be altered to suit your centre’s needs:

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      If no one remains at the centre during the excursion, consider leaving a written notice at the centre that is visible to visitors providing information on:

      • the location of the excursion,
      • the predicted return time, and
      • a contact name and phone number

      Things to take

      The following are useful things to take on an excursion:

      • A list of all children plus their emergency contact details in case of any accident of emergency. Include any siblings. Use this to take periodic roll checks.
      • First aid kit. Consider carrying some bags in case of travel sickness, and some portable instant ice-packs.
      • Personal medication for any of the centre’s children – inhalers, epi pens etc. Also take any personal medication needed for adults and teachers.
      • Cellphone – with numbers for the bus or transport company, numbers for the destination or venue and a contact number for someone connected with the service who is not going on the excursions.
      • Sun protection. Rain wear if needed.
      • Books or other items to entertain children if there are any delays.
      • Drinking water for all children and adults
      • Spare clothing.


      • Remember that the same ratios on the excursion must be met for all ages of children as you are required to do at the centre. However, given the inherent risks involved in taking children out of the centre, consideration should be given to increasing ratios.
      • These ratios need to include all the children on the excursion –ie include all the siblings not just enrolled children.
      • If possible, aim for at least one member of the teaching staff to be excluded from the ratio calculation. This leaves them free to manage and co-ordinate during any unforeseen event, or to deal with routine items such as collecting tickets, managing storage of back packs etc.
      • Consider the travel arrangements and hazards identified on the way to and at the destination when determining adult: child ratios.
      • Consider whether ratios need to be improved if any part of the excursion is in the vicinity of an unprotected source of water.

      Transport considerations

      • As a general rule, public transport generally offers less risk than using private vehicles. If private vehicles are used consider the following:
      • All drivers must have a current full New Zealand driver’s licence, and how this will be checked.
      • Each vehicle must be registered and have a current warrant of fitness, and how this will be checked.
      • As safe practice, have two adults accompanying the children travelling in a private vehicle. The exception to this would be where a parent was transporting only their own children.
      • All private vehicles must have the appropriate safety restraints for adults and children in accordance with the NZ Transport Agency regulations. See this fact sheet on the NZTA website(external link) for more details.

      Supporting Volunteers/Parent Helpers

      As parent helpers are a key part of adult:child ratio they are critical to the success of the supervision and health and safety on an excursion. Take some time to think through what they need to know about expectations of them, and how to communicate this to them. Consider the following:

      • Parent helpers need to actively supervise the children in their care. This means being close enough to keep them safe at all times. They should not let any child leave their group.
      • Parent’s own behaviour should not put any children at risk – eg leaving the group for a coffee, popping into a shop etc.
      • If a parent has a health condition which might compromise their ability to supervise throughout the excursion, ask them to let you know.
      • Make sure each parent knows which children they are responsible for. Give them a list of names.
      • Make sure they are aware of the itinerary, timetable and general logistics of the excursion.
      • Parents need to stay with the main centre group at all times – unless some part of the activity is on a rotating basis. If they need to leave the group for some reason, make sure they know to notify a staff member first.
      • Parents need to accept that there is no place for smoking, alcohol, or other illegal drugs on any excursion.
      • Parents need to agree to follow all the requests and expectations of the teaching team.
      • Describe the positive behaviour policies of the centre – explain to parents how they are expected to manage children. Be clear about when they should seek immediate help from a staff member.
      • Be clear about what is acceptable in terms of taking photographs of children on the excursion.
      • Make sure parents know about the arrangements for toileting, food/drink, looking after children’s belonging, who has the First Aid Kit, the number of the emergency cell phone and what will happen in any emergency.(ie adults should not take groups away from the main group unless this is planned and organised).