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.

HS6 Excursions

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 6

      Whenever children leave the premises on an excursion:

      • assessment and management of risk is undertaken, and adult:child ratios are determined accordingly. Ratios are not less than the required adult:child ratio;
      • parents have given prior written approval of their child's participation and of the proposed ratios; and
      • there are communication systems in place so that people know where the children are, and adults can communicate with others as necessary.

      Documentation required:

      A record of excursions. Records include:

      • the names of adults and children involved;
      • the time and date of the excursion;
      • the location and method of travel;
      • assessment and management of risk; and
      • evidence of parental permission.

      The criterion is underpinned by the following premises:

      • excursions outside the licensed premises are a valuable aspect of the service curriculum
      • there are inherent risks involved in excursions from the licensed premises
      • risks should be mitigated as much as possible to uphold the safety and wellbeing of children
      • the responsibility for the assessment of risk should lie with the service rather than with the Ministry of Education via a ratio
      • formula applied through regulation
      • parents should also take responsibility by giving their informed consent of the proposed excursion ratios.

      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.

      Children should not be taken from their ward, even to other area of the hospital or grounds including an outdoor garden or play area , without consent from the child’s nurse/ charge nurse.

      If children are being taken out of the hospital grounds, then they need written parental consent.

      The responsibility for the assessment of risk lies with the service, and parents should also take responsibility by giving their written approval to the excursion and the proposed ratios.

      A special excursion requires a specific risk assessment and development of a management plan made in consultation and with consent from the children’s medical teams prior to the excursion because the environment and circumstances in which these occur will be different each time. This may require medical staff to accompany the children.

      To assist you in planning and documenting your excursions, some sample documents are provided below. These can be altered to suit your service’s needs:

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to take

      • The following are useful things to take with you on an excursion:
      • A list of all children plus their emergency contact details in case of any accident of emergency. Use this to take periodic roll checks.
      • First aid kit. Consider carrying some bags in case of travel sickness, and some portable instant ice-packs.
      • Cellphone – with number for the destination or venue and a contact number for someone connected with the service who is not going on the excursion.
      • Sun protection. Rain wear if needed.
      • Books or other items to entertain children if there are any delays.
      • Drinking water for all children and adults
      • Spare clothing.


      • Remember the same ratios on the excursion for all ages of children as you are required to do in the hospital based service must be met.
      • For children in hospital, ratios may need to be higher to cater to the children’s medical needs and any other considerations such as wheelchairs.
      • Nurses may need to be included.
      • If possible, aim for at least one of your teaching staff to be excluded from the ratio calculation. This will leave them free to manage and co-ordinate during any unforeseen event, or to deal with routine items such as collecting tickets, managing storage of back packs etc.
      • Consider the travel arrangements and hazards identified at the destination when determining your adult: child ratios.