What do the symbols mean?

Below, we explain what the symbols in the ECE guidelines mean.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • All Early Learning Services 
  • Service Managers
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako

This guidance helps early learning service providers to understand the ECE guidelines. These symbols support services to comply with the regulations and licensing criteria that are mandatory to all providers.

Guide to the symbols

The § symbol is used to indicate criteria that may require additional comment from Public Health Units (usually in the form of a Health Report) to assist the Ministry of Education in assessing services for compliance. The authority to direct a service provider to obtain a Health Report is currently outlined in regulation 55(external link).

The Ø symbol is used to indicate facilities that can be located outside the premises, if services can demonstrate they have adequate access to them. This will allow, for example, two separate ECE services located in the same building to share the same centrally located adult toilet, work space, art sink and bodywash facilities.

The ⚐ symbol indicates a criterion that applies to services which include a home or homes that have children receiving out-of-school care (as defined in the interpretation section) in the home while the licensed home-based ECE service is being provided.

This clarification of the Ministry of Education’s position on what ‘shared’ facilities are acceptable is also relevant for ECE services sharing tenancy with a non-ECE enterprise such as a school, business or church.

Allowing these shared facilities will save unnecessary duplication of expensive facilities while still achieving health and safety outcomes for children.

‘Adequate access’ in each situation would be determined by ensuring that the shared facilities perform their function to a similar level as if they were located on the premises and meet the following outcomes:

  • the facility can be used by the service whenever it is required (‘free access’)
  • the facility is located close enough to the service to ensure that people who need to use it can do so without difficulty. This includes considerations of distance as well as comfort, such as not getting wet in bad weather (‘easy access’)
  • if children need to use the facility (such as in the case of an isolation area or bodywash facility), their safety, supervision and dignity can be assured (‘safe and suitable access’).

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