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. 


PF1 Design and layout of premises

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 1

      The design and layout of the premises:

      • support the provision of different types of indoor and outdoor experiences; and
      • include quiet spaces, areas for physically active play, and space for a range of individual and group learning experiences appropriate to the number, ages, and abilities of children attending.

      Related to clause 45(1)(a)(i) of standard.


      To ensure children have access to an environment that can support a range of activities for children of all ages and strikes a balance between physically active play and quiet spaces.

  • 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.

      Centres need to be designed and laid out so the physical environment supports the way the curriculum can be provided. Activity spaces need to be configured to allow for a range of learning experiences, as well as meeting the minimum space per child requirement. Centres must have sufficient indoor space for group learning, and outdoor space must be of a size and shape that does not restrict different kinds of physical activity.

      A centre with several small rooms, none of which is large enough for group activities, or a centre with a very long and thin outdoor space that could severely restrict the kinds of outdoor activities that could be provided would not meet the criterion.

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