Early Childhood Education (ECE) qualifications Levels 1-6

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) qualifications review scheduled for 2020 is underway, and we are now seeking stakeholder feedback on the reviewed qualifications in the general suite by 30 September 2020.

ECE qualifications, at Levels 2-6, were published on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) in February 2016, as a result of the 2013-2016 Mandatory review.

Consistency events for the Level 3-5 ECE qualifications were held in 2019. Reports and further information on this is available from the consistency of graduate outcomes webpage for New Zealand qualifications.

NZQA National Qualifications Services (NQS) is the standard setting body for unit standards in ECE, including Pacific Island Early Childhood Education. Unit standards have been developed for use as assessment tools in programmes leading towards the Level 2-6 ECE qualifications.

Find a New Zealand ECE Qualification

View a pathways map (PDF, 352KB) for the ten NZ ECE qualifications. These ECE qualifications can be accessed through the NZQA links below or by searching for the qualification reference number or title.

General Suite

Mātauranga Māori Suite

Guidance material is available to assist in the development of programmes to meet the graduate profile outcomes of qualifications in the Mātauranga Māori Early Learning area.

Programme approval and accreditation

Providers need to obtain programme approval and provider accreditation to deliver an approved programme before they can offer the qualifications.

Information on programme approval and accreditation for NZ Certificate courses in Secondary Schools is available here.

For information on the development of these qualifications, refer to the Mandatory Review of ECE qualifications (2013-2016) section below.

2020 ECE qualifications review

Current developments

Consultation open until 30 September 2020

We are consulting on the draft reviewed Early Childhood Education qualifications, seeking your feedback by 30 September 2020.

The major changes proposed include:

  • changing the titles of the Level 2 and 3 Certificate qualifications
  • replacing the existing NZ Certificate in Early Childhood Learning and Care (Level 2) (40 credits) [Ref: 2848] qualification with a 60-credit qualification - NZ Certificate in Care for the Developing Child (Level 2)
  • updating the qualifications to better match current sector practice and needs, and current listing requirements
  • developing a draft new qualification designed for offshore delivery and pathways

We invite you to consider the consultation document (PDF, 317KB) which includes a summary of the changes proposed, and each of the reviewed qualifications.

Your comments and feedback on any aspect of the reviewed qualifications may be submitted via the online survey or sent directly to ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz by 30 September 2020.

Thank you in advance for your help. We look forward to hearing from you.

Background on the review

The suite of Early Childhood Education (ECE) qualifications was listed on the NZQF in February 2016 and is scheduled for review by December 2020.

The review excludes the suite of five Mātauranga Māori Early Learning qualifications listed in February 2016, which have been reviewed by Māori Qualifications Services (MQS).

The current qualification developer, NZQA Qualifications Services on behalf of and in collaboration with the sector, is leading the review under the strategic guidance of a Governance Group, and with the input of expert working groups. 

Pre-review feedback on any aspect of the qualifications was sought March – June 2020, including the pathways map (PDF, 633KB), to identify key areas for update and to ensure the suite of qualifications is still relevant and fit for purpose.  Expressions of interest to be involved in the Governance and/or expert working groups were sought at the same time.

The Governance Group convened in July and August to address issues for the entire suite, and to provide overarching strategic guidance and maintain an overview role for the review.   

Two expert working groups (Certificates and Diplomas) were convened in July and August to undertake a detailed review of each qualification. The Governance Group endorsed the draft qualifications for consultation.

We value input to the review, and if you wish to receive email updates, and/or make contact regarding ECE qualifications at Levels 2-6, please email ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz.

Quick links to documents:

Mandatory review of ECE qualifications (2013-2016)

Qualifications in Early Childhood Education (ECE) were scheduled for review in 2014 as part of the nation-wide mandatory review of qualifications. There were a range of ECE qualifications with some apparently similar qualifications at the same level.

The mandatory review was to reduce the duplication and proliferation of qualifications on a national scale, and to ensure that qualifications are useful, relevant and valuable to current and future learners, employers and other stakeholders.

The review was jointly led by the New Zealand Career College (NZCC – now part of ACG, NZMA), Waiariki Institute of Technology (Waiariki – now Toi Ohomai), and NZQA National Qualification Services (NQS). The co-leads worked together to establish the terms of reference for the working relationship for the review.

The ECE Governance Group (ECE GG) provided the strategic leadership and direction, and an effective decision-making structure for the review. The ECE GG guided the qualification development direction, considered the consultation feedback, and endorsed the draft qualifications through the various stages. The steering group met thirteen times between January 2014 and the listing of the new qualifications in February 2016.

Stakeholders and interested parties were encouraged to be involved in the review and share their thoughts on the future of ECE qualifications in New Zealand. There were opportunities to be on the Governance Group, members of working groups (one to develop the stream of general ECE qualifications which include Pasifika, and one to develop the Mātauranga Māori stream of ECE qualifications), and/or attend sector meetings or respond to the three stages of consultations. Consultation documents are available from the links below.

NZQF2 and NZQF4 stakeholder attestation forms provided evidence that the co-leads consulted with a wide range of stakeholders during the review and development process. Completion of these forms helped meet review obligations.

In February 2016 the proposed suite of ten new ECE qualifications, including five Mātauranga Māori ECE qualifications, were approved for listing.

Key Documents

Consultation documents

Sector meetings/hui were held in November 2013 and July 2014, and presentations and meetings notes are available on request from ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz.

Unit standards aligned to Level 2-4 NZ ECE certificates

The suite of twenty-nine new and five reviewed Early Childhood unit standards developed for use as assessment tools in programmes towards the following three New Zealand Early Childhood qualifications at Levels 2-4 were published in April 2017.

The Landscape of ECE unit standards mapped to new NZ qualifications at Levels 2-4 (DOCX, 48KB) provides details of the standards' titles and credits, by level. This information may help inform programme development.

Further information is available from the ECE standards development and review webpage, and details are available in the April 2017 review of Early Childhood Education and Care unit standards change report.

For information on the outcome of the 2015 revision and rollover of 37 ECE and 38 PIECE unit standards, please see the August 2015 revision and rollover of ECE and PIECE unit standards change report.

If you wish to subscribe to receive email updates, and/or make contact regarding ECE unit standards, please email ece.review@nzqa.govt.nz.


If you wish to subscribe to receive email updates, and/or make contact regarding ECE qualifications at Levels 2-6, please email ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz.

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