Importance of Staff Qualifications in Early Childhood Education

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We advise parents to check on staff qualifications to make sure those responsible for their child are appropriately qualified to do so. Should you be leaving your child at a professional early childhood service, check for staff qualifications and that the people responsible for your child are appropriately trained and qualified.

Teacher-led Centres

Teacher-led centres are centres that care for children in the absence of parents. These include kindergartens, childcare and daycare centres.

A large body of empirical research looking at the effects of childcare on child outcomes has shown staff training in child development and early education and care (not primary and secondary school education) to be one of the strongest variables of quality. Therefore, every child attending a teacher-led service should be cared for and taught by a qualified adult (this may be with the assistance of unqualified adults counted outside of the minimum regulated adult-child ratio). That’s why we advise parents to check that the teachers responsible for their child hold a recognised early childhood teaching qualification.

Note that the Education Act requires sessional kindergartens to maintain 100% qualified teachers and so any sessional kindergarten will meet this standard. However, all centres owned by kindergarten associations have now changed to all-day licences and no longer hold a sessional licence.    

Home-based ECE

Home-based services are the same as teacher-led centres in respect of the importance of the adult having early childhood teacher training, since the home-based educator is a worker and not a parent or family member of the child. 

In the coming years, all home-based educators will be required to hold at least a Level 4 ECE qualification on the qualifications framework.  This is not a full teaching qualification, but it assures parents that educators have at least a basic level of early childhood development and education knowledge and training.   

All visiting teachers must be ECE qualified and hold a practising certificate. 


New Zealand Playcentres provide ECE training for parents and have other requirements that mean children are likely to receive a high level of appropriate support and learning opportunities from adults.   

Hospital based

Hospital-based ECE services operate from hospital premises and provide education and care only to children who are patients of that hospital.  Hospital-based ECE staff usually all hold an ECE recognised teaching qualification and may also be trained hospital play specialists or hold nursing or other medical qualifications. The number of hospital based ECE licensed services is small.

Te Kōhanga Reo

The objective of te kōhanga reo early childhood services is to teach and pass on Māori language and culture. Thus, the suitability and qualification requirements for adults who work with children and their families in kōhanga reo must reflect the objective. 

Parents and other whānau are involved in te kōhanga reo and each kōhanga is responsible for checking the competency of adults in te reo Māori and their suitability to work with children. Kōhanga whānau are also supported to undertake training in Te Ara Tuatahi and Te Ara Tuarua to support the acquisition and use of te reo Māori by whānau in the home and in the kōhanga reo. 

Tino Rangatiratanga Whakapakari Tohu is the teaching qualification for te kōhanga reo kaiako (teachers).   

Read more:

Regulations on Staff Qualifications and Person Responsible

Structural indicators of quality early childhood education

Please let us know if any information here has become out-of-date

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