Starting a centre-based ECE service

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

Preparing for staff employment

Research shows that teacher training and qualifications have a positive impact on learning outcomes for children.

As a condition of licensing, staff in the position of ‘person responsible’ as set out in the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link) are required to be appropriately qualified. More information on qualification for early childhood education teachers can be found on the Education Workforce website.

Education Workforce(external link)

Under Part 31 of the Education Amendment Act 2015(external link), staff in the position of ‘person responsible’ must also be registered. The teacher registration regulations are administered by the Education Council.

Education Council(external link)

Teacher registration and certification ensures the quality of teachers. Newly graduated provisionally certificated teachers must be supervised and supported through an advice and guidance programme once they begin teaching in an ECE service.

Employing ECE staff

  • To employ teachers for your ECE service
      1. Create a staffing schedule to help you decide how many teachers you will need, and for what hours you will need them. This should be based on anticipated enrolments.  This process will also help you decide how many of these staff must be qualified teachers.
      2. Decide what other staff will need to be employed (for example, cleaner, administration staff, manager, cook, head teacher).
      3. Develop job descriptions. It may be useful to look at job descriptions from other ECE services, where possible.
      4. Decide what salary rates and conditions you will offer. It may be useful to find out about salaries paid and conditions offered in other ECE services in your area. (See ‘Help with employment issues’ and 'Pay Equity and Pay Parity' below.)
      5. Every employee must have a written employment agreement. It can be either an individual agreement or a collective agreement. Decide what form the draft employment agreement between staff and the service will take.
      6. Develop employment documentation such as policies and procedures.
      7. Advertise for staff.
      8. Formalise the employment agreement between staff and the service prior to employment.

      Look at Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 regulation 47(external link) and licensing criterion GMA 7 for what is required.

      Refer to advertisements in the Education Gazette(external link) to help you. Consider employing at least one teacher prior to opening.

  • Pay Equity and Pay Parity
    • Pay Equity

      Amendments to the Equal Pay Act 1972, which came into effect on 6 November 2020, introduce a new process for individual employees and unions to raise a pay equity claim directly with an employer for work, which may be subject to systemic sex-based discrimination.


      Equal Pay Amendment Bill Factsheet(external link)

      Pay Equity - Guide to Good Practice (external link)



      Pay Parity in Early Childhood Education

      What is the pay parity opt-in scheme?  

      The pay parity opt-in scheme seeks to address the disparity in pay between certificated teachers / kaiako working in Education and Care and Hospital-Based services and equivalent teachers / kaiako in kindergartens. The disparity is unfair and contributes to some of the workforce issues facing the sector, such as teacher / kaiako shortages and retention difficulties. 

      The scheme provides higher funding rates to education and care and hospital-based services who pay all employed certificated teachers / kaiako at least the salary amounts described in the ECE Funding Handbook(external link) 

      Note a separate piece of work is underway to identify and implement an approach that better aligns funding with certificated teacher / kaiako salary costs under pay parity. You can find out more here(external link). 


      What is the pay parity opt-in scheme?  

      1 May 2023 NZEI  applied to MBIE to initiate a Fair Pay Agreement for the early childhood sector. 

      The Fair Pay Agreement legislation means minimum pay standards can be negotiated and agreed for a whole sector or industry. NZEI Te Rui Roa will be using it to legally embed pay parity and better working conditions for ECE kaiako, and to seek a living wage for all other ECE staff.

      They say that in bargaining, they will raise issues important to the ECE sector, taking a lead from the though it is likely to mean taking a stand on pay parity, non-contact time, ratios, professional development, and health and safety.

  • Staffing schedules
    • Staffing schedules support the smooth operation of an ECE service. They ensure that it is clear when staff are responsible for children and when they can take lunch breaks or 'non-contact' planning time, etc. Draft schedules should be developed by newly established services to work out:

      • how many staff will be needed overall to ensure compliance with the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 (schedule 1);
      • what hours each shift will need to cover; and
      • which shifts will need to be filled by registered teachers to ensure compliance with the Education (Registration of Early Childhood Services Teachers) Regulations 2004.

      See qualification requirements.

      See Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 (schedule 1)(external link)

      You should also note that the Ministry of Education's Early Childhood Education Funding Handbook requires records to be kept to show actual staffing levels and child attendance (as opposed to planned staffing levels). Your staffing schedule could be designed so that it can also be used as a staffing record for the purposes of funding. You can find an example in appendix 2 of the funding handbook. Some software providers have packages available to assist services.

  • Developing a schedule
    • Developing schedules is quite tricky and you may need to try lots of versions before you find one that suits your service. 

      Use the example schedule [DOC, 955 KB] as a guide and carry out the following steps:

      Step one

      • Fill in the number of children (over 2 or under 2) that you have planned will be at the service every half hour (right hand column). Note that, at the start and end of the day, there are often fewer children attending. If this is the case, fewer adults may be needed at these times.
      • Work out how many adults you will be required to employ for the number of children (every half hour) and write this number in the planned staff column.
      • Alternatively, write in the number of adults your service will need if you want fewer children per adult than is required by the regulation (note that you can have more adults working with children than required, but not the other way around).
      • Shade the boxes to show when each adult will actually be working with the children.
      • Count across the columns to ensure there are at least as many adults working as the number planned.

      Check that at least one 'person responsible' is on the premises supervising the adults and children at all times.

      Step 2

      Check each adult:

      • has adequate breaks (for example, lunch)
      • is not working for too long each day; and
      • has time to plan for children's learning and curriculum delivery.
  • Job descriptions
    • Job descriptions are statements written to describe the:

      • position title
      • duties/key tasks
      • primary responsibilities, including intended outcomes of key tasks
      • qualifications and experience required for the position
      • personal professional qualities and skills
      • position relationships, such as to whom the person is responsible, and to whom they relate
      • a date that the job description was prepared – this is a good way to track when it needs updating
      • names and signatures of the key people involved in its preparation and a review date.

      (Note: see the Human Rights Act 1993(external link) to ensure there is no discrimination in items listed in the person specifications.)

      Job descriptions clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of a specific job, helping to promote positive relationships within a team of staff.

      They help to:

      • clarify the role and expectations of employees;
      • decide how work is allocated or delegated;
      • develop appraisal processes and procedures;
      • set goals; and
      • identify professional development needs and guide career developments.

      The best job descriptions do not limit employees but enable them to use their experience, grow their skills and develop their ability to contribute within their organisation.

      A staffing and appointments policy and the process adhered to should document the process for developing and changing a job description.

      Suggested headings for job description

      • Position
      • Introduction (including a description of the organisation)
      • Profile (of the successful applicant)
      • Responsible to
      • Primary responsibilities of the position
      • Key tasks
      • Date prepared
      • Signed
      • Review date


      Guide to hiring for employers(external link): This is a resource designed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to provide employers with information on good practice when recruiting and hiring employees, including information on job descriptions.

      CommunityNet Aotearoa(external link) provides practical ‘hands on’ resources to help organisations to get started and develop good practice in the voluntary sector environment.