Research shows that high-quality early childhood education (ECE) has significant and lasting benefits for young children. The Government's vision is for all New Zealand children to have the opportunity to participate in high-quality early childhood education. ECE in New Zealand has a world-leading curriculum, Te Whāriki.
There is a wide variety of early childhood education services, including both parent-led and teacher-led services. Teacher-led services include privately owned or not-for-profit community-based services that provide both sessional and all-day programmes, such as a crèche or kindergarten. Parent-led services include Playcentres and certified playgroups.
Another feature of ECE services in New Zealand is that they may have a particular language and cultural focus such as kōhanga, Puna Reo and Aoga Amata. Other services have a specific set of beliefs about teaching and learning, for example, Rudolph Steiner and Montessori.
There is also home-based education and care for groups of up to 4 children aged birth to 5 years in either the educator’s home or the child's home. Each educator must belong to an approved home-based service, which provides support through a coordinator who is a qualified and certificated ECE teacher.
The Correspondence School Te Kura provides distance early childhood education for young children who are unable to attend a service because of isolation, illness, special learning needs, or other special circumstances. Te Kura also only employs qualified and registered teachers.
The benchmark qualification for New Zealand qualified early childhood teachers is a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), or an equivalent early childhood teaching qualification at Level 7 or above recognised by the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand for certification purposes.
ECE remuneration varies greatly. Salaries may be covered by a collective agreement or negotiated on an individual basis.