Starting a centre-based ECE service

Click on the links below for information on starting a centre-based licensed early learning service.

Governance and management roles and responsibilities

  • Management group
    • If a management group has been elected, the members need to be people with an interest in the service, who will be able to attend meetings regularly, assist with decision making and help manage the service. The management group is formed at the annual general meeting and includes:

      • a representative from the teaching team who has the most responsibility for the day-to-day running of the service – usually the ‘person responsible’ (electing a teacher to the management group is not advisable because of the conflict of interest – see appendix one)
      • the contact person/licensee
      • parents/whānau and community representatives who are elected at the annual general meeting.

      Depending on the size of your service, your management group will have between 5 and 8 members.

  • Governing group or board
    • A governing board may be elected from:

      • parents and whānau
      • the community
      • stakeholders
      • secretary
      • treasurer
      • and includes the contact person.

      The size of your governing board is set out in your constitution or trust deed. The size that works best is between 5 and 8 people.

  • Secretary
    • The secretary takes minutes at meetings, deals with correspondence, keeps files and ensures the roll is kept up to date.

  • Treasurer
    • The treasurer needs to be familiar with the Ministry of Education funding details.

      The treasurer ensures that the financial records are kept up to date and accurate, and manages income and banking, makes payments, keeps the cash book up to date, reconciles bank statements and issues receipts. The treasurer will be responsible for balancing the cash book and bank reconciliations. The treasurer organises the financial records to be audited.

  • Responsibilities of governing
    • What is governing?

      Governing is the responsibility for the long-term health and prosperity of the service. It includes:

      • designing and putting into words a vision of what your service will be like in the future
      • making sure your service will provide high quality early childhood education for children in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and beyond
      • long-term projects or issues rather than day-to-day matters.

      A job description for governing

      When you govern, you need to be always asking yourself, “Is what I am doing going to make the service better in the future?”

      The job of governing includes:

      • setting the direction for the service
      • setting performance targets
      • developing and following through on policies
      • making sure the service has the capacity by way of staff, equipment and money to do all the things you would like it to do
      • exercising control by measuring performance against the targets you have set
      • understanding what risks the service might incur and having a plan to minimise them
      • regular reporting.

      In your governing meetings, you must ensure that you:

      • exercise a ‘duty of care’ (this is defined as “the standard of care which an ordinary man might expect to take on his own behalf”)
      • act honestly
      • do not use your position for advantage (your responsibility is to the service and you must not try and gain a personal benefit)
      • comply with legislation
      • comply with the Ministry of Education’s requirements
      • act in the best interests of the service at all times.

      What are you responsible for when you govern?

      Governing includes such things as:

      • making sure the service provides quality education for the children so that families will choose your service;
      • making sure your service meets the needs of families, both now and in the future, the community, staff, the Ministry, the Education Review Office and other interested parties;
      • meeting all your responsibilities on time and at all times;
      • defining the purpose, values/beliefs and aims of the service;
      • developing written policies and procedures;
      • preparing and reviewing the statement of philosophy;
      • reviewing progress and responsibilities as described in the long-term plan; and
      • ensuring your service keeps families and the community informed and involved.

      Term of office

      Usually the members of the governance group will be elected at the annual general meeting but in some services established by an umbrella organisation they may be appointed.

      Good practice is to elect each member of the governing group for a term of 2 years with a right to be elected for another term of 2 years. It is usual to elect half the number of the group one year and another half the following year. This provides continuity from one year to the next in the long-term planning done by the governing group.

      Who should attend governing meetings?

      Governing meetings are for those elected or appointed to provide governance. Parents/whānau or other interested people who may attend do not automatically have speaking rights and are not entitled to vote.


      Those elected to govern are representing the parents/whānau and also to others who have an interest in the success of the service – the stakeholders.

      For most services, the following is a sample list of stakeholders:

      • Parents/whānau
      • The community which the service operates within
      • Ministry of Education
      • Education Review Office
      • Staff and contractors
      • Children
      • Suppliers to the service
      • Neighbours
      • Owners of the home or building from which the service operates
      • Child, Youth and Family Services
      • Inland Revenue Department
      • Other government agencies
      • Local/district/regional authority
      • Funders and sponsors
      • The church or other ‘umbrella’ group

      It is important for the governing group to review its list of stakeholders each year to make sure it is up to date. The governing group should agree which stakeholders are the most important.

      Meeting with stakeholders

      The governing group should meet with stakeholders each year. The meeting might only take 20 to 30 minutes but can provide valuable information for the governing group about the future of the service.

      The governing group might plan to meet with one of the important stakeholder groups every second or third governing meeting. The stakeholder group should be provided with the long-term plan prior to the meeting.

      Communication with stakeholders

      Good quality and frequent communication with stakeholders helps to keep everyone involved and up to date.

      Some stakeholders need frequent communication, some not so often.