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.

PF1 Design and layout of premises

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 1

      The design and layout of the premises supports the provision of a variety of activities and experiences with regard to the age and number of children attending.


      This criteria makes sure the design and layout of the premises enables children to have access to a wide range of experiences.

  • 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.

      Playgroups meet in a variety of different premises, e.g. church halls, marae, community rooms, or school sites. Think about how spaces can be used to give children a range of different activities and experiences to choose from and support adults to play with the children.

      It is important that the space is attractive, interesting and fun, as this will help the children:

      • feel safe and secure
      • feel more confident being involved in activities
      • be more interested and so they are more likely to be involved in their own learning
      • choose their own learning activities at every opportunity by providing opportunities for positive social interactions and learning through relationships.

      You can use furniture such as tables, couches or moveable shelves, cushions, mats – whatever you have – to create different areas of play in the space you have available. For instance child-sized tables and chairs can be used for different play activities (such as dough, collage or puzzles) and mats can be used to set up block play or book reading.

      During a playgroup session it may be necessary to reset or refresh play materials and equipment so that they are appealing to other children. If a child has created something purposefully then it may not be necessary to reset the resources they have used rather just refresh the area without affecting the creation. This means children can revisit their creations at a later time.

      Talk to your ECE advisor about the best way to do this in your playgroup.

      Things to consider

      • Do the equipment and facilities reflect the culture and purpose of the playgroup?
      • Do the premises fit the playgroup’s needs?
      • What storage facilities are available?
      • How do you manage setting up and packing away if premises need to be cleared for use by other groups after each session?