Certification criteria for playgroups

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—

  1. no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
  2. more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
  3. the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.

Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.

Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help playgroups meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.1 MB] and printed.

The certification criteria were last updated in September 2022.

HS2A Safe Assembly Areas

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Designated assembly areas for evacuation purposes outside the building keep children safe from further risk.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by ensuring that assembly areas do not place children in further danger - on a main highway for example. The criterion is also based on the assumption that a safe assembly area is more likely to result in regular drills being carried out.

      Amended May 2015

  • 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.

      Although it is important there is a place for people at the playgroup to go to when a fire breaks out, it is just as important to ensure that this place does not put children or adults in further danger from other hazards. This can be a challenge for some playgroups because of the layout of their premises and proximity to main roads, carparks, waterways etc. Young children often behave erratically when scared or distressed, and adults need to reduce stress (for themselves, as well as for the children) in these situations as much as possible.

      Talk with local Ministry of Education playgroup certification staff and Fire and Emergency New Zealand(external link) personnel about the best options for your particular situation.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      • Selecting an appropriate assembly area should also take into account where Fire and Emergency New Zealand(external link) vehicles and personnel might be when they are responding to a fire.
      • The place chosen should be checked to ensure children or adults will not be trapped in an area from which they can’t escape if the fire should spread. For instance, in an area surrounded by high walls or fences with no exit other than through the fire area.
      • The use of portable orange netting, cones and walking ropes can be useful for keeping children together while moving and once they have reached the final place of safety.
      • Ideally any equipment needed should be stored near the exits from the building to avoid the need to retrieve it from more distant storage areas when evacuating the building in an emergency.
      • Consideration should be given as to how will children will be kept warm and dry if evacuation takes place during wet or windy weather. Playgroups may be able to make some arrangement with a nearby business or other organisation to assist with this.
      • A "grab bag” ready near the building exit to take when playgroups evacuate to an assembly area should be provided. In addition to emergency supplies and medication, this could include books or other items that can be used to engage children’s attention while at the assembly point.
      • If adults suspect that during the process of exiting or re-entry to a building to secure items poses further risk to their own lives or the lives of others then they should not do so.