Qualification requirements

Early learning services must meet qualification requirements for licensing. The requirements vary depending on the type of early learning service.

Teacher-led centre-based

At least 50% of required staff must have a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

Teachers need not be employed full-time to count towards the 50% requirement. A part-time teacher with a recognised ECE teaching qualification can be counted at a maximum of two different licensed services.

This is because the requirement for 50% qualified ECE staff does not have to be maintained at all times throughout the day.

A service can count one person who is in their final year of study towards the 50% requirement, provided they are enrolled in an approved programme that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

Where 50% does not equate to a whole number, services must round up.

Required staff is calculated depending on a service’s licence class (i.e. probationary, or full/provisional). For services on a probationary licence the 50% is calculated and maintained based on the number of children enrolled. For services on a full or provisional licence the 50% is calculated on the number of teachers required to meet ratios based on the maximum number of children specified on the licence (licence maximum).

More information on what counts as a recognised qualification can be found in the sections below.

The person responsible must have a recognised qualification and a current practising certificate. From 9 January 2020, in teacher-led centre-based services this can be either a recognised early childhood education (ECE) or primary teaching qualification. Prior to this date, only ECE qualifications were recognised.

Having a person responsible is a requirement that must be met at all times, like adult-to-child ratios.

To be eligible for higher funding rates, teacher-led, centre-based services must attest that they are paying teachers that have a recognised ECE or primary teaching qualification at specified salary rates.

Funding requirements for teacher-led, centre-based services – ECE Funding Handbook

Qualification requirements for teacher-led centre-based services (including kindergartens):

Component50% qualified licensing requirement Person responsible Funding - Certificated teachers

A current practising certificate issued by the Teaching Council

Not required Required Required

Recognised ECE teaching qualification
(or overseas qualification assessed as comparable by NZQA)

Required Meets requirement Meets requirement

Recognised primary teaching qualification
(or overseas qualification assessed as comparable by NZQA)

Does not meet requirement Meets requirement Meets requirement
Staff enrolled in a course of study that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification within 12 months

Can count one staff member towards requirement

Does not meet requirement Does not meet requirement
Hospital-based services

In licenced hospital-based services, the person responsible must have a recognised early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification and a current practising certificate.

At least 50% of required staff must also have a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

Teachers need not be employed full-time to count towards the 50% requirement. A part-time teacher with a recognised ECE teaching qualification can be counted at a maximum of two different licensed services.

This is because the requirement for 50% qualified ECE staff does not have to be maintained at all times throughout the day.

A service can count one person who is in their final year of study towards the 50% requirement, provided they are enrolled in an approved programme that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification.

Where 50% does not equate to a whole number, services must round up.

Required staff is calculated depending on a service’s licence class (i.e. probationary, or full/provisional. For services on a probationary licence the 50% is calculated and maintained based on the number of children enrolled. For services on a full or provisional licence the 50% is calculated on the number of teachers required to meet ratios based on the maximum number of children specified on the licence (licence maximum).

More information on what counts as a recognised qualification can be found in the sections below.

Qualification requirements for hospital-based services:

Component50% qualified licensing requirement Person responsibleFunding – Certificated teachers
A current practising certificate issued by the Teaching Council Not required Required Required

Recognised ECE teaching qualification
(or overseas qualification assessed as comparable by NZQA)

Required Required Meets requirement

Recognised primary teaching qualification
(or overseas qualification assessed as comparable by NZQA)

Does not meet requirement Does not meet requirement Meets requirement
Staff enrolled in a course of study that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification within 12 months Can count one staff member towards requirement Does not meet requirement Does not meet requirement
Home-based services

In licenced home-based services, the person responsible (or co-ordinator) must have a recognised early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification and a current practising certificate.

Educators do not need to be qualified, but a higher quality funding rate is available to home-based services employing educators with specified minimum qualifications. Further information is set out in the ECE Funding Handbook.

Quality funding rate for home-based services

Playcentres

In Playcentres, the person responsible must have a recognised qualification specified in the New Zealand Gazette. The Playcentre person responsible is not required to hold a current teacher practising certificate.

Qualifications for Persons Responsible in a Playcentre

There are also group supervision qualification requirements and these are set out in the ECE Funding Handbook. 

Supervision requirements in the ECE Funding Handbook

The group supervision qualification requirements are also illustrated in infographics on the Playcentre Aotearoa website.

Supervision requirements in infographics - Playcentre website

Recognised early childhood education teaching qualifications

An early childhood education (ECE) teaching qualification is strictly defined as one recognised by the Teaching Council for registration purposes. This means:

  • a NZ ECE teaching qualification, or
  • an overseas qualification assessed as comparable to a NZ ECE teaching qualification by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

NZ ECE teaching qualifications

Current approved programmes that result in recognised NZ ECE teaching qualifications are listed on the TeachNZ website.

List of approved NZ teaching programmes - TeachNZ website

Overseas qualifications

Before any qualification awarded outside New Zealand can be recognised for licensing or funding requirements, it must first be assessed and deemed comparable to a NZ ECE or primary teaching qualification.

This is called an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) and is carried out by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Teachers must request an IQA from NZQA directly. The result is a recognition statement that explains the qualification in the NZ context.

If the assessment results in comparability with a NZ teaching qualification, the recognition statement will state that the qualification meets the core knowledge components of a NZ initial teacher education programme. It will also state whether the qualification is considered to be an ECE, primary or secondary qualification.

International Qualifications Assessment - NZQA website

Discretionary pathway registration

In some cases, the Teaching Council may consider a person as satisfactorily trained to teach for registration purposes through the discretionary pathway, despite a person’s overseas qualifications being assessed as not comparable to a NZ teaching qualification.

Registration and practising certificates are not sector specific. However if the discretionary pathway decision was made after August 2018, and the council considers there to be enough evidence to show a person has completed sufficient ECE or primary teaching studies to the appropriate level, then the letter confirming registration via the discretionary pathway will state this. Only where this is specifically stated in the letter can that person be considered as holding a recognised qualification.

Registration via the discretionary pathway - Teaching Council website

Teaching qualifications not recognised

Primary and secondary teaching qualifications

Secondary teaching qualifications are not recognised for person responsible in any type of early learning service, or the 50% requirement in teacher-led centre-based or hospital-based services, or higher rates of funding.

Teachers with a recognised primary teaching qualification and a current practising certificate can be a person responsible in a teacher-led centre based service (from 9 January 2020), and count for higher rates of funding. They cannot be a person responsible in any other type of early learning service, or count towards the 50% requirement in teacher-led centre-based or hospital-based services.

NZQA’s pre-approved list of qualifications

NZQA has published a pre-approved list of overseas teaching qualifications which do not need an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) for registration purposes. This list was developed for the school sector. It cannot be used by teachers wanting to count towards qualification requirements in the early learning sector because the sector (eg ECE) is not specified alongside each qualification on the list.

Record keeping

Services must keep records to demonstrate that they are meeting qualification requirements:

  • Certified copies of each teacher’s qualifications (award certificates).
  • Certified copies of NZQA International Qualification Assessment (IQA) recognition statements.
  • Documentation proving teachers are employed by the service. For example, employment agreements or letters of appointment.
  • Rosters showing when teachers are on duty.
  • Documentation for part-time teachers employed at two or more services. For example, a letter from the part-time teacher confirming which 2 services can count them towards qualification requirements.
  • Documentation for teachers in their final year of study. For example, a letter from the teacher or training provider confirming that they are enrolled in their final year of a programme that will result in a recognised ECE teaching qualification.
More information

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 - New Zealand Legislation website

If you have questions, please contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Local Ministry offices

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