Ensuring early learning is good quality

Participation in quality early childhood education has reached record highs, at over 96%. Here’s why parents can be confident their child’s early learning is good quality.

How does the Ministry of Education ensure early learning is good quality?

Our early childhood education standards are among the highest in the world. We set the bar high because, like parents, we know children must have safe, nurturing environments to learn and grow.

We ensure services provide high quality education and care.  At any one time, 98% of services are meeting or exceeding standards.

Here’s how we do that:

Our rules on quality

  • before a service of any kind begins operating it must meet our licensing standards
  • these make it clear what is expected on curriculum, health and safety, premises and facilities, and governance, management and administration
  • a service has to show us over a probationary period of up to 12 months that it is delivering on those standards. Only after it has done that will it get a full licence
  • early childhood education centres are inspected by regional public health services to ensure they meet standards.

Services are regularly checked

  • the Education Review office (ERO) regularly reviews all early learning services to ensure they meet quality standards
  • our regional staff in 10 districts visit services and check they are complying with their licences
  • services have to provide us with independently audited accounts annually
  • three times a year we assess all ECE services against financial indicators, and where we identify areas of concern we send in audit investigation teams.

We have the power to act if we have concerns

  • we act immediately if there are concerns about the safety of children
  • we have the power to carry out spot-checks at any time if we have concerns – and we do so
  • if we believe children are at risk any way, we can shut down a service, either temporarily or permanently
  • we can put a provider on a provisional licence if it isn’t meeting our standards
  • we monitor them closely and set deadlines for improvement. In rare cases a service does not improve, we shut them down
  • we have the power to require particular staff not to have access to children if that’s what the circumstances require.

We take action on safeguarding and lifting quality standards

  • in the last three years we cancelled five licences for services that hadn’t met our requirements
  • each year we put approximately  60 early learning services on provisional licences
  • at any one time less than 2% of the country’s 4397 early learning services are on a provisional licence
  • we follow up every complaint from parents
  • ERO regularly and independently evaluates aspects of quality across ECE services. This helps all services to improve the quality of their teaching and learning. It also helps the Ministry to help all services to lift quality.  You can read these reports on ERO's website.

We invest to lift quality and for continuous improvement

  • We spend $9m a year on professional development for early learning services.

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