Background for the Mandatory Review of ECE Qualifications

Mandatory Reviews of Qualifications

Nation-wide mandatory reviews of qualifications are intended 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 policy for reviews of qualifications (PDF, 29KB) spells out the purpose, roles and responsibilities of both NZQA and qualification developers, the timeframe, costs and review process.  The questions and answers about reviews may be helpful too.

Early Childhood Education Qualifications

Qualifications in Early Childhood Education (ECE) were scheduled for review in the first quarter of 2014. There was a range of ECE qualifications with some apparently similar qualifications at the same level. The list of qualifications that were part of this review are contained in the qualification review schedule for 2014.

Early preparation for the ECE qualifications review got underway during 2013. On 29 May 2013, a communication was sent to mandatory stakeholders to seek endorsement of the options for review leadership. As a result, it was confirmed that the review will be jointly led by the New Zealand Career College (NZCC), Waiariki Institute of Technology (Waiariki), and NZQA National Qualification Services (NQS). The co-leads worked together to establish the approach and working relationship for leading the review.

The ECE review was officially triggered on 14 March 2014. A review plan was prepared and submitted to NZQA Approvals and Accreditation in mid-April.

Pre-review Sector Engagement

As part of an initial preparation phase, the co-leads held two half-day sector meetings, one in Wellington on 27 November 2013 and one in Auckland on 28 November 2013, for current qualification owners, education organisations offering National Qualifications, relevant sector peak body organisations and government agencies.

These meetings provided:

  • an opportunity to discuss the review of ECE qualifications;
  • background on the review process;
  • an opportunity for participants to contribute to the needs analysis.

Meeting participants also endorsed the proposed approach to governance of the review. The presentation (PPT, 1.6MB) for the sector meetings is available, as are notes (PDF, 554KB) from the meetings.

Qualification Development

Consultation on the Proposed ECE Qualifications Landscape and Needs Analysis

Sector consultation was carried out during April 2014 to gather information and stakeholder feedback about the landscape for the proposed ECE qualifications to ensure they best meet learner, sector, communities, whānau, hapū, iwi and provider needs. Thank you to those that responded and provided feedback on the consultation document and the draft need analysis.

The Early Childhood Education Governance Group (ECE GG) considered the consultation feedback and, as the summary shows, there was general support for the development of the proposed ECE qualifications. 

Working Group Meetings

Those who wanted to be involved with developing the proposed ECE qualifications were invited to submit expressions of interest before 22 April 2014. There was a strong response to the request, and the ECE GG was fortunate to have a large number of applicants to select from and regret they were not able to select all who generously made themselves available.

The ECE GG proposed two 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. A panel was assembled from the Governance Group, and working group members (PDF, 193KB) were chosen to ensure a wide range of perspectives and to reflect the diversity of the sector.

The working groups met on 21 and 22 May 2014 and again on 5 and 6 June 2014 to develop the draft qualifications in accordance with the advice and Working Group Brief provided by the ECE GG.

Stakeholder Consultation July 2014

The Early Childhood Education Governance Group (ECE GG) invited feedback on draft qualifications to replace current ECE qualifications at Levels 1-6 on the NZQF. The purpose of the consultation was to gather information and stakeholder feedback about the draft qualifications so that they could be amended to best meet sector and learner needs before being submitted to NZQA Quality Assurance Division.

The Governance Group prepared a consultation document about the draft qualifications, which includes the qualifications in landscape format for easy comparison. The individual qualification documents are also available from the Review Documents and Quick Links section below for those who prefer to view them that way.

To complement the consultation, interested parties were invited to attend sector meetings in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch during July. These meetings were a chance for the wider sector to engage with the review process and raise any questions relating to the draft qualifications and/or review process.

Consultation on the draft qualifications closed on 25 July 2014, and we thank all who took the time to consider the draft qualifications and provide feedback.  We also thank those who attended the sector meetings held in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in July. Copies of the presentation and notes from the General and Mātauranga Māori sector meetings are now available.

Approval to Develop Application

The proposed suite of draft ECE qualifications was submitted to NZQA Quality Assurance Division for ‘approval to develop’ on 10 September 2014, along with the finalised needs analysis. 

In the application for approval to develop, the ECE Governance Group proposed the following suite of 10 new early childhood qualifications.

General suite:

Mātauranga Māori suite:

Approval to develop the proposed general suite of five ECE qualifications was received on 30 October 2014, and 19 November 2014 for the Mātauranga Māori ECE qualifications.

Development of Qualifications for Approval to List

Further development work was undertaken in stage two of the review process, with a particular focus on refining the draft qualifications and including specifications and conditions relating to the qualifications and graduate profile outcomes. 

The ECE Governance Group met 7 November to consider analyst feedback to the application for approval to develop, and finalise the brief to provide guidance for the working groups to assist in progressing the development of the proposed qualifications. 

The working groups reconvened 12-13, 24 and 27 November, and will be reconvened if required by the Governance Group to further refine the draft qualifications in preparation for meeting listing requirements. 

The analyst report for the review included a few areas that need to be considered in the second phase of development. The key issue is a perceived lack of sector consensus on base-level qualifications for the sector and the minimum requirements necessary for competent ECE graduates at different levels of qualification. Other issues to be addressed include refinements to the suite of qualifications (strategic purpose statements, graduate profile outcomes, pathways – particularly to clarify the scope of practice and level of responsibility at which graduates will be able to operate), further evidence of consultation with stakeholders (particularly related to the proposed level 2 qualification), and some other minor items. The Governance Group considered the review report, and an approach has been agreed to address the items raised and to further develop the qualifications towards listing in 2015.

The Early Childhood Education Governance Group (ECEGG) met 7 August to consider the feedback from the consultation and sector meetings, and determine changes required before the proposed suite and supporting documentation was finalised for the 'application for approval to develop' stage of the review process.

All consultation submissions were considered in detail by the ECEGG, and a summary of the feedback is now available.  Stakeholder feedback on the draft qualifications consultation strongly supported the further development of each of the proposed qualifications.  There were a number of issues raised that have been addressed, with some held over as they are more appropriately considered in the next stage of development.

Response to Request for Information (RFI) - submission for 'approval to list'

The proposed suite of new Early Childhood qualifications was submitted for ‘approval to list’ at the end of March 2015.  The analysts considered the applications and provided feedback in May requesting additional information and some alterations to the draft qualifications.

The ECEGG considered the request and agreed what needed to occur to progress the qualifications towards listing.  Working groups were convened June/July 2015 to make the necessary refinements to the qualifications. The key focus was to consider:

  • the graduate profile outcomes and conditions and whether any could be clarified or conflated, and to ensure they include all required components including adjusting to show 'to do what'
  • any refinements of the qualification conditions, including reference to Education Council (replacing NZ Teachers Council), and reference to Safety Checks (Vulnerable Children Act 2014) where appropriate
  • responses to specific queries from the analyst

The strategic purpose statements, graduate profile outcome statements, pathways, conditions and specifications of each qualification have been refined in response.

There are no changes to the proposed titles, levels, or credits associated with the general suite of ECE qualifications.  However there is a change for He Taonga te Mokopuna (Level 2) (60 credits) – previously 40 credits.

A subgroup of the Governance Group met 9 July to consider the proposed changes from the working groups, and finalise the documentation before it was reconsidered by the full ECE Governance Group for endorsement and submission in response to this RFI.

A response to the analyst was submitted on 27 July 2015.  Following are the July 2015 versions of the qualification documents.

Qualifications submitted in response to RFI - 'approval to list' July 2015

General suite:

Mātauranga Māori suite:

Mātauranga Māori Qualifications submitted in response to RFI - 'approval to list' September 2015

The following suite of qualifications were submitted for 'approval to list' 15 September 2015.  Following the request for information the Mātauranga Māori ECE qualifications have been amended.

General Suite ECE qualifications resubmitted for 'approval to list' - December 2015

The general suite of Early Childhood qualifications were revised and resubmitted to NZQA Approvals and Accreditation for ‘approval to list a qualification’ in December 2015, and additional queries were responded to 1 February 2016.   The changes requested were related to the guidance in Clarifying the requirements for listing New Zealand qualifications published 21 October 2015.  The following suite of five Early Childhood qualifications were resubmitted:

Supporting Documentation

Stakeholder attestation form (NZQF4)

As part of the review documentation requirements, we asked you to complete a form, NZQF4: Involvement in qualification development - stakeholder attestation. If you haven't yet returned your form it is not too late. We will submit forms once they are received.

The NZQF4 form is evidence that we have consulted with a wide range of stakeholders during the review process, and shows we have obtained support for the qualifications.

You may have contributed to the review in any of the ways mentioned, such as being involved in work groups to develop the qualifications, confirming support for or providing feedback on the qualification content, providing feedback to consultations etc; and/or in other ways, such as keeping track of what we are doing and approving what is being suggested without necessarily telling us. This could be by receiving emails and/or by monitoring the review webpage. You don't need a separate form for each qualification in the proposed ECE suite - you can just mention 'NZ Certificates and Diplomas in ECE qualifications – Levels 2-6 General and/or Mātauranga Māori Suite' or the title of just those qualifications you engaged with or are most relevant to your input as a stakeholder.

You may wish to consult the mandatory review guidelines around listing qualifications on the NZQF as background to this request.

Please let us know if we can clarify anything, and we look forward to receiving your completed forms, which may be emailed to the

Qualification owners form (NZQF 6)

Information was sent to existing qualification owners about the completion of an additional form - NZQF6: Outcomes of a Qualification Review - Changing the status of current qualifications, prior to submission for ‘approval to develop’ last September. Thank you to the many providers that completed and returned this form prior to ‘approval to develop’. We reconciled these forms for all providers of the 35 qualifications that are within the scope of this review, prior to submitting the new qualifications for listing.

The NZQF6 form asks all current owners to assess their existing qualifications in light of the new proposed qualifications, and to confirm an intention to accept the proposed new suite of qualifications as replacement(s) for existing qualifications (not immediately, but once the new qualifications are listed and appropriate transition arrangements have been put in place).

If you are a qualification owner that hasn’t already completed and returned your NZQF6 form, we ask that you do so as soon as possible so we can submit the forms in support of the application for approval to list.

The proposed qualifications are available from the review webpage. A copy of the current ECE qualifications on the review schedule is also available.


Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us