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.

PF2 Variety of equipment

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Premises and facilities criterion 2

      A sufficient quantity and variety of furniture, equipment, and materials is provided that is appropriate for the learning and abilities of the children participating in the service.


      To ensure that children’s learning is supported by a range of suitable and safe furniture, equipment and materials.

  • 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 learn by interacting with people and with their environment. The furniture, equipment, and resources provided for children will have an impact upon their learning and how they view themselves and others.

      Equipment used by the service will need to engage and challenge children and be flexible enough for children to construct their own learning.

      Exactly what type and quantity of furniture, equipment, and materials provided in the activity room will differ between services.

      Outdoor equipment

      If there is an outdoor play area provided for children in a hospital-based setting, the service will need to consider the type of outdoor equipment to provide.

      Flexible, moveable equipment allows children choice and control over how their learning environment is set up. Moveable equipment also encourages cooperation between children, and provides opportunities for problem solving.

      See further information on equipment in early childhood education (ECE) services.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Consider how the furniture, equipment, and resources you provide in a hospital-based service will:

      • reflect the cultural differences in the centre
      • promote and protect written and spoken language
      • be non-sexist and inclusive
      • support parents' aspirations for their children’s learning
      • reflect different attitudes and feelings
      • provide for group and individual play
      • provide for children’s current and emerging interests
      • provide opportunities for choice, planning, and problem solving
      • reflect the special nature or philosophy of the centre
      • be relevant and challenging for the range of ages and abilities of children attending.

      Consider a balance between natural products and man-made equipment and materials. Plastic products are usually cheaper and easy to clean, but they do not usually last as long or have the same aesthetic appeal as products made from natural materials.