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.

HS4 Emergency drills

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Adults providing education and care are familiar with relevant emergency drills and carry these out with children on an at least three-monthly basis Emergency drills are practised.

      Documentation required:

      A record of emergency drills carried out and evidence of how evaluation of the drills has informed the annual review of the playgroup’s emergency plan.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by ensuring that:

      • adults at the service have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to deal with emergency situations;
      • review of the service’s emergency plan and evacuation procedures occur annually; and
      • children are familiar with, and confident in, responding to emergency procedures.

      The intention of this criteria is to ensure that adults and children have the knowledge to respond safely in an emergency.

      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.

      Research has shown that the factor that most contributes to reducing injuries and fatalities during any emergency evacuation is regular practice. This ensures that any coordinators and parents are familiar with procedures and that children also become familiar and comfortable with what is expected of them.

      Regular practice will also ensure that any equipment that will be relied on in an evacuation will be subject to regular checks, for example, any special equipment that might be used to assist in the evacuation of the non-walking children. It is also recommended that the adults have a range of strategies available to manage any children whose behaviour has become disturbed during the evacuation.

      The following activities will support you in ensuring that all adults are familiar with the evacuation procedures:

      • Evacuation procedure briefing for all parents.
      • Including emergency plans and procedures as a regular agenda item for meetings.
      • Communication with parents and families, via noticeboards and in newsletters.

      It is important that the children are familiar and comfortable with the evacuation procedures. In addition to participation in regular trial evacuations, familiarity with emergency responses can be included as appropriate in the playgroup’s programme.

      Playgroups are expected to have emergency drills at least every three months. Evacuation drills should be organised to test a variety of emergency situations and scenarios. For example, practising both earthquake drills and fire evacuation drills, and practising evacuation via alternative exits if these are available. You should aim to hold your trial evacuations at times when you have typical numbers of children, of varying ages, and adults at the playgroup. Consider also the timing of evacuations and whether or not attending parents will be notified in advance. Holding unannounced evacuations at challenging times (e.g. during morning tea time) may be inconvenient but will give you greater assurance that your procedures are effective.

      It may be more difficult to evacuate children from centres that are not at ground level in the event of a fire. Fire evacuation schemes need to identify ways to mitigate this. We recommend reading the Guidance for ECE Services - Evacuation from High Rise Buildings [PDF, 260 KB].

      Documentation Guidance:

      You need to keep records of the emergency drills.

      You should review your emergency plans and evacuation procedures at least once a year. Records of each trial evacuation should be used to inform that review. If any changes are required to your evacuation procedures, these should be noted promptly in your evacuation plans and any other documentation and notices updated. Remember also to communicate to all staff, family and others if you have made any changes.


  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      An example of an emergency drill to practise is the earthquake drill.

      For earthquake drills the safest response for adults and children is likely to be the use of the ‘turtle’ position. A person in this position has their body tucked up with their knees and forehead on the floor, and their hands covering the back of their neck. This position provides maximum protection for the face, internal organs, and the most important area of the spinal column.