The Education and Training Act 2020: Early Learning me ngā Kōhanga Reo

The Education and Training Act 2020 aims to give all learners a high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and into tertiary education, vocational training and employment.

What is the Education and Training Act?

The Act is the biggest rewrite of education legislation in decades. Much of its content gives effect to the Government’s plans to transform the education system, following the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation and the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce report.

The Act incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989, and also incorporates the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019 and the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020. 

What does the new Act mean for Early Childhood Education?

The Act strengthens the quality of early learning provision. Key changes introduced by the Act that impact ECE and are operational now are:

  • changes to the penalty for unlicensed ECE services (section 28)
  • changes to police vetting for home-based services (section 25; Schedule 4, clause 1)
  • changes to the monitoring and evaluation of providers (sections 624, 464).

The Act also introduces (section 17) an additional application stage to the licensing process, which will come into effect within the next two years.

Change to the penalty for unlicensed ECE centres

The previous penalty for ECE centres operating without a licence was set at $200 per day of operation. The Act changed the structure of the penalty and increased the level to a maximum $50,000.

Changes to police vetting for home-based services

The Act makes it explicit that all adults who live in or are present in a home where home-based ECE is provided must undergo police vetting. This requirement does not apply where home-based ECE is provided in the child’s own home and no other children attend home-based ECE at that address. 

Monitoring and evaluation of providers

The Act has clarified the powers for the Education Review Office (ERO) to enter, inspect and obtain information from early learning service providers’ parent entities , and to enter homes where early learning is taking place to review and evaluate curriculum delivery and health and safety performance.  

Additional licensing requirements – to come into force within two years

Part 2 of the Education and Training Act 2020 will introduce an additional application stage to the licensing process. This will come into force within the next two years to allow time for regulations to be developed.

The new first stage of the licensing process will be an application to the Minister for preliminary approval to establish an ECE service. The Minister will assess the application against the following criteria:

  • the needs of children
  • the capacity of the network in the surrounding community to meet demographic and community needs, including the provision of different service types, such as Māori medium
  • the suitability of the applicant. Each person involved in the governance of the service provider will need to meet a fit and proper person test specified in legislation, and to satisfy any other relevant background checks, such as Police vetting
  • the financial position of the organisation to ensure it is financially sound, and
  • the licensing history of any existing services owned, operated or connected to the applicant. 

The new licensing process will be delayed for up to two years while regulations are developed in consultation with the sector. There will be further information on how you can input into the development of the regulations in the Early Learning Bulletin in due course. 

When do these changes take effect?

Change to penalty for unlicensed ECE centres

August 2020.

Changes to police vetting for home-based services

August 2020.

Monitoring and evaluation of providers

August 2020.

New licensing process

The commencement of the additional stage of the licencing process will be delayed by up to two years to allow time for regulations to be developed.

This means that providers who are ready to apply for a licence can still do so under the existing criteria, while future potential providers will have time to prepare their applications.

 

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