The move towards a fully qualified home-based ECE workforce

Published on Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Last updated on Monday, 26 October 2020

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Although home-based early childhood education (ECE) teaches young children a lot about themselves and the world, this doesn’t mean every home-based educator is a formally qualified and certificated ECE teacher.

Under the current system, each home-based service must have a coordinator who is qualified, but the teaching credentials needed by educators are determined by the funding rate of their licensed home-based service.

Educators at standard funding rate services do not need to be qualified teachers, while those working at quality rate services do need to have completed a Level 3 or higher ECE qualification or be working towards a Level 4 one.

All this is about to change, though, because after reviewing home-based ECE and releasing its 10-year Early Learning Action Plan, the government is raising the levels of home-based educators’ qualifications.

It says, ‘Evidence suggests that qualifications are linked to quality interactions and better educational outcomes for children’ and, as such, the government is transitioning towards a fully qualified home-based educator workforce.

From 1 January 2025 there will be a single quality rate for home-based ECE services, and 80 per cent of educators will need to hold a ‘required qualification’.

This means they’ll need to hold a:

  • Grand-parented* Level 3 ECE qualification
  • Level 4 or higher ECE qualification
  • Te Ara Tuarua (Level 5 Kōhanga Reo qualification) or higher or
  • Primary teaching qualification.

* If an educator gets a Level 3 ECE qualification before 1 January 2022 they’ll count as qualified in the ECE sector.

What are the key dates for this transition?

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins recognises that the move to a fully qualified home-based ECE workforce, ‘Represents a substantial shift for the home-based sector,’ so the government is taking a gradual approach to the raising of qualification requirements.

They’ve announced the following timeline to allow educators and service providers to adjust:

  • From 1 January 2021, home-based services on the quality rate must have at least 30 per cent of educators holding a required qualification. This figure will increase gradually (from 30 to 50 to 70 per cent year-on-year) and by 1 January, 2024, 80 per cent of educators at these services will need a required qualification. The remaining 20 per cent are able to be in training or induction (meaning they don’t yet have credits towards a qualification).
  • From 1 January 2022, 10 per cent of educators in standard rate services must hold a required qualification. The standard rate requirement will increase gradually (from 10 to 30 to 60 per cent year-on-year) until it reaches 80 per cent on 1 January 2025.
  • On 1 January 2025, the standard funding rate will be removed and there will be a single quality rate, requiring 80 per cent of home-based educators to be qualified, and up to 20 per cent able to be in training or induction.
  • Educators going into the home-based workforce from 1 January, 2025 will have up to six months for induction before they have to be enrolled in the Level 4 ECE qualification or Te Ara Tuarua. They’ll have two years to complete their qualification.

Who will benefit from this overhaul of home-based ECE qualifications?

Mr Hipkins is confident that the changes are beneficial for children, parents and educators.

He says that, ‘Quality early learning helps provide children with a strong foundation for their future’ and that these changes will, ‘Give certainty to parents and whānau on the quality of home-based early learning.’

At the same time, Mr Hipkins sees the move towards required qualifications as a, ‘Valuable opportunity [for home-based educators] to upskill and develop their careers further.’

To help them do this, the government is providing visiting teacher support payments to help educators complete their Level 4 ECE qualification; and from 2021, it’s offering fees assistance for up to 2,646 students who are working towards a Level 4 ECE qualification, but aren’t eligible for fees free. 

This raising of qualification requirements may create some challenges for educators and service providers in the short-term, but it’s a positive investment in our children’s future and we look forward to seeing children – and educators – reap rewards in the years to come.



Conversation, Ministry of Education

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