Early Childhood Education (ECE) qualifications Levels 1-6

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) qualifications review scheduled for 2020 is underway, and we are seeking stakeholder feedback and expressions of interest to be involved in governance and/or expert working groups for the review of the general suite.

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

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 also listed in February 2016, which will be reviewed by Māori Qualifications Services (MQS).

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

The Governance Group will address issues for the entire suite, and provide overarching strategic guidance and maintain an overview role. Members of the group will be asked to endorse the draft qualifications for consultation and for submission for quality assurance. Working groups will undertake a detailed review of each qualification. A contributory model will be applied to cover the costs.

We are now seeking pre-review feedback on any aspect of the qualifications, including the pathways map (PDF, 352KB), to identify key areas for update and to ensure the suite of qualifications is still relevant and fit for purpose.

You may choose to send general comments or use this feedback form (DOCX, 26KB). Either may be sent to ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz.

We are also inviting expressions of interest to be involved in the Governance and/or expert working groups, proposed to be convened between May and July 2020 to review the five certificate and diploma qualifications:

Please return a completed expression of interest/application/nomination form (DOCX, 535KB) to ecequals.review@nzqa.govt.nz by noon Wednesday 29 April 2020.

With the recent events and travel disruptions, we've been considering and planning for alternative methods of conducting the review meetings, including e-meetings if appropriate. We’ll be guided by the Ministry of Health at the time of the decision making including the requirements for non-essential travel.

We value your input and are aware how difficult the current COVID-19 crisis is for everyone working in the education and skills sectors. We will be considering the current situation and feedback received, and we want to reassure you that we will adapt plans for this review as appropriate.

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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