Licensing criteria for hospital-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines hospital-based education and care service as the provision of education or care to 3 or more children under the age of 6 who are receiving hospital care.

ECE services operating from hospital premises that provide education and care to siblings of patients or children of hospital staff or patients are centre-based ECE services, not hospital-based ECE services.

Hospital-based services 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 services meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

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

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.2 MB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.

C8 Language-rich environment

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum criterion 8

      The service curriculum provides a language-rich environment that supports children’s learning.

      Documentation required


      This criterion is a means of ensuring that the service curriculum is consistent with the prescribed curriculum framework.

  • 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.

      Language is a vital part of communication and cultural transmission. If children are competent communicators, they are well-placed to enjoy their relationships with others and to be successful learners. Language does not consist only of words, sentences, and stories though: it includes the language of images, art, dance, drama, mathematics, technology, movement, rhythm, print, and music.

      The ‘languages’ used in the environment will depend on the make-up of the children and families that attend, and the community that the service serves - for example a language-rich environment in an infant and toddler setting may look, feel and sound different from a setting for older children. 

      In early childhood services in Aotearoa/New Zealand it is important that educators understand the significance of te reo Māori and that it is heard, seen and used throughout the day, integrated throughout the service curriculum.

      All children will enter an early childhood service with a first language. Sometimes this language is different to the language or languages used in the centre. It is important that educators work in collaboration with the parents/whānau of the child to ensure that the child’s first language is integrated into the service curriculum in real and meaningful ways.

  • Practice
    • Practice

      Examples of what this might look like in practice:

      • The service curriculum is print-focused: educators encourage print-awareness in children’s activities; have a lot of printed material visible around the centre, at children’s eye-level or just above; and offer children a range of readily-accessible books
      • The first language of each child that attends the service is represented in the environment – seen and heard – particularly the key words and phrases that the child relies upon for communication
      • Children and educators use their first languages and extend their vocabularies in both te reo Māori and English
      • Children use a variety of ways to communicate, including non-verbal communication through art, movement, and music
      • Educators actively listen to and respond to all forms of communication from children
      • Educators promote stories, songs, dance, and music from a variety of cultures.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to consider:

      • What languages are ‘spoken’ here?
      • How do our wider relationships with colleagues, parents, and the community influence our provision of a language-rich environment? What tools and strategies do we have to support the provision of a language-rich environment?
      • How do we evaluate how our level of engagement with children and families impacts on learning outcomes for children?
      • What kinds of review practices happen within the language used in engagement with children?
      • How do we reflect on or monitor the language we use with children, families, and each other?
      • How do the language experiences provided for children reflect the families’ wishes, beliefs, and aspirations?
      • How do we access content knowledge and technical language to support and extend children’s thinking?
      • What role does a language-rich environment play in the transmission of culture?
      • What happens at our place that reflects the importance of language/learning?
      • How would we explain to others how children’s learning is supported through a language-rich environment?
      • Do we notice who talks, when they talk, and what they say? Do we notice who does not talk, and why?
      • How are the languages and symbols of children’s own and other cultures promoted and protected?
      • How can our environment support children’s thinking and language?