Early Learning Regulatory Review

Learn about the Ministry of Education’s comprehensive review of the early learning regulatory system (the Review).

Level of complianceMain audienceOther

Inform

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

The Early Learning Regulatory Review may result in changes being made to how the early learning sector operates.

About the review

The Review’s purpose is to ensure that the regulatory system is clear and fit for purpose to support high quality educational outcomes for our youngest learners.

The Review will be completed in three tranches. The Ministry of Education will be consulting on the first tranche of the Review from November 2020.

The main aim of tranche one is to address some of the gaps in our current system including those that pose a risk to children’s health, safety, and wellbeing. The proposals would most impact new early learning services, service providers that have a change in circumstance, and services that have compliance issues.

Areas that require more work will be in later tranches. This will include addressing several commitments in the Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 and Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education.

Why are we doing the review?

The Ministry of Education has begun a comprehensive review of the early learning regulatory system (the Review). The Review’s purpose is to ensure that the regulatory system is clear and fit for purpose to support high quality educational outcomes for our youngest learners.

It is timely to review the regulations for early learning. The early learning sector has changed significantly since the primary regulations(external link) came into force in 2008. The number of children participating in early learning has increased, and children are participating at younger ages and for longer hours. This has led to an expansion of early learning services, with different levels of growth between service types.

The Review will also address several commitments that require regulatory change in the Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029(external link) and Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education(external link).

For more information about the Review, please see these proactively released documents.

Phasing of the review

The Review will be completed in three tranches to ensure high priority issues are prioritised first. Areas that require more work will be in later tranches.

Consultation on tranche one

The Ministry of Education will be consulting on the first tranche of the Review from November 2020 for eight weeks. The Ministry will release a discussion document with draft regulations and a survey at the start of the consultation period.

Aim of tranche one

The main aim of tranche one is to address some of the gaps in our current system including those that pose a risk to children’s health, safety, and wellbeing. Most of the proposals are about improving aspects of the licensing system for early learning service providers.

Tranche one proposals

The proposals would most impact:

  • new early learning services
  • service providers that have a change in circumstance
  • services that have compliance issues.

Proposals that would most impact new services:

  • Clarifying that any relevant information can be used to assess an application for a probationary licence rather than only the information provided by the applicant.
  • Clarifying that the fee for a new licence is payable upon application and is non-refundable.

Proposals that would most impact service providers with a change in circumstance:

  • Clarifying the following for licence amendments when the service provider changes:
    • Service providers are required to apply for a licence amendment before any proposed change in the identity of the service provider (rather than after the change).
    • The phrase “review the licence” can include any of the assessments used for granting a probationary licence and/or for granting a full licence.

Proposals that will most impact services that have compliance issues:

  • The following changes to provisional licences:
    • Adding “incident at a service involving a child that requires investigation” to the matters that could lead to a provisional licence.
    • Adding the ability for the Ministry of Education to cancel a licence based on provisional licence history and the likelihood that the service is unable to sustain compliance.
  • Creating the ability to issue written directives for health and safety matters that require immediate attention.
  • Removing the 21 day minimum notice period to suspend a service’s licence:
    • for not returning a full licence when reclassified as provisional
    • when the service is no longer under the control of the service provider.

The Ministry of Education will also be consulting on:

  • increasing the minimum room temperature of early learning services from 16 to 18 degrees
  • clarifying the person responsible requirements
  • updating the licensing criteria to set out the expectations for early learning services regarding the National Education and Learning Priorities(external link).

Tranche two overview

Tranche two will likely include:

The Ministry of Education intends for tranche two to be implemented by mid-2022. There will be two rounds of public consultation.

Tranche three overview

Tranche three are the remaining matters that require significant further work to develop such as:

  • ensuring that children are at the centre of our system
  • improving adult: child ratios
  • reviewing remaining aspects of the licensing system
  • evaluating the role of the Ministry of Education and other actors in the system to ensure high quality provision of education and care.

Tranche three will likely involve a complete rewrite of the regulations to ensure that they are accessible and fit for purpose.

The Ministry of Education intends for this tranche to be implemented in late 2023. There will be two rounds of public consultation.

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