Annual ECE Census: Report 2013

This report summarises the results from the June 2013 Annual Census of ECE services. It provides a sector-wide statistical summary of key aspects of the early childhood education sector and the trends over the past decade.



Last Updated: December 2013

  • Despite a decline in the population of  around 4,000 0-4 year-olds in 2013, participation in ECE continues to rise.  There were 200,922 enrolments in licensed ECE services in June 2013, up nearly  4,400 since June 2012.
  • Growth in enrolments has picked up again in  2013, after slowing in 2011 and 2012. Enrolments grew by 2.2%, up from 1.3% in  2012. Enrolments have increased by 6.2% since 2010 and 23% over the last  decade.
  • Nearly 96% of children had attended ECE in  the 6 months prior to starting school in 2013.
  • Participation of 2 and 3 year-olds has  increased more than other ages, and their enrolment rates have also increased  (to around 64% and 94% respectively).
  • 18% of enrolments were aged 1 or under, 20%  were aged 2, and 62% were 3 years or over.
  • The majority of enrolment growth remains in  education and care services, where numbers were up 5.1% since 2012, 13% since  2010 and 53% since 2004. Education and care services now make up 62% of  all licensed services.
  • Enrolments in kindergartens and playcentres  continued to decline, down 3.3% and 5.1% respectively. In 2013, Kōhanga reo  enrolments also decreased in 2013 (by 190 or 2.0%).
  • Māori and Pasifika contributed nearly two-thirds  (63%) of the growth in 2013. Māori enrolments were up by 2,600 (or 6.2%), while  Pasifika enrolments were up by 860 (or 6.3%).
  • Growth in Asian enrolments also continues to  be high, up by 1,900 (or 12%). Together, Māori, Pasifika and Asian children  contributed almost all (98%) of the growth in 2013.
  • Children are continuing to be enrolled  longer in ECE across all teacher-led service types. Average hours enrolled per  week increased to 21.7 hours in 2013, up nearly 40 minutes from 2012.
  • 91% of all enrolments for children aged 3-5  years were in the 20 Hours ECE scheme in 2013, up 1.1 percentage points from  2012.  Take-up of 20 Hours ECE by  playcentres increased from 33% to 37%.


  • There were 4,255 licensed services at June  2013. This number (once adjusted for mergers) was up 2.2% from 2012.
  • 155 new services opened in the year to June  2013 (compared with 152 the year before). 119 of these were education and care centres and 30 were home-based services.
  • 59 services closed in the year to June 2013  (compared with 50 the year before). 50 of these were either education and care  or home-based services.
  • 32% of ECE services had waiting times of  over a month, down from 35% in 2012, and from its peak of 56% in 2008.
  • Occupancy rates remained stable at 80% in  2013.
  • The number of Māori language immersion  services in 2013 (476) remained similar to the number in 2012 (473). The number of  services where Māori was used more than 50% of the time (493) was one less than in 2012 (494).
  • 96 services reported using a Pasifika  language for more than 50 percent of the time (compared with 93 in 2012). There  were 54 services where a Pasifika language was spoken more than 80% of the time  (compared with 53 in 2012). Samoan and Tongan were the languages most used in  these services.

Teaching staff

  • Total teaching staff numbers increased to  22,200 in 2013 (up 740 or 3.4% since 2012). 76% of these were qualified  teachers, up from 74% in 2012.
  • The number of Māori and Pasifika teaching  staff increased by 6.2% and 4.3% respectively and the proportions that were  qualified increased to 68% and 71% respectively.
  • Male ECE teaching staff numbers increased  11% in 2013, up by 48 to reach 486. Males made up 2.2% of all teaching staff,  up from 2.0% in 2012.
  • Across all centre-based teacher-led  services, there was an average of 1 teacher for every 6 children, similar to  the level in 2012.

1. Participation in ECE

Enrolment growth has picked up again

There were 200,922 enrolments in licensed services in 2013, an increase of 2.2% (4,387) from 2012. Over the same period 21,141 playgroup attendances were reported by the 661 playgroups that responded to the census, bringing total enrolments to 221,063 in June 2013.

Enrolment growth for licensed services peaked at 4.4% in 2010 but fell to 1.3% by 2012. During 2013, growth in ECE enrolments picked up despite a 1.4% decrease (4,400) in the number of children aged 4 years and under.

The number of children aged under 5 years old has decreased over the last two years and is projected to decrease over the next few years. Figure 1.1 shows how changes in population for children aged 0 to 4 are reflected in changes in enrolment numbers.

Figure 1.1: Population, enrolments and enrolment rates for 0-4 year-olds, 2004-2013

The enrolment rate is the number of enrolments as a percentage of population. The overall enrolment rate for 0-4 year-olds (weighted by each age group's population share in 2013) has risen consistently over time.  It increased by 7 percentage points in the ten years to 2013, rising from 57% to 65%.  This is an over-estimate of actual ECE participation rates because current enrolment numbers double-count children who attend more than one early childhood education service during the survey week.

While actual rates of ECE participation are not currently available, it is possible to get an indication of these by using the prior ECE participation rates of children starting school.

Figure 1.2 shows the percentage of children starting school who attended early childhood education services for the years ending June 2004-2013. Prior ECE participation increased 0.7 percentage points to 95.7% for 2013, up from 95.0% in 2012. Prior ECE participation has been increasing steadily over the last 10 years, up from 93.0% for the year ended June 2004 to 95.7% for the year ended June 2013.

Figure 1.2: Percentage of students starting school who have participated in ECE, 2004-2013

Government has a goal of increasing ECE participation to 98% of all children starting school by 2016. The ECE Participation Programme was introduced in 2010 to improve participation in ECE by targeting specific local areas where participation is low. This Programme is made up of various projects that aim to support Māori, Pasifika, and low-income families to enrol their children in ECE.  In 2013, 96% of children in the programme came from target groups; just over half of the participants (53%) were Māori children and 40% were Pasifika children.

Enrolments by service type 

Education and care services have the largest share of ECE enrolments with 62% (around 124,000) of all enrolments in 2013. Enrolments in kindergartens make up 17% (or 35,000), home-based services 9% (or 18,820), playcentres 7% (or 13,568) and kōhanga reo services 5% (or 9,179) of total enrolments.

Figure 1.3: Number of enrolments in licensed services by service type, 2004-2013

The majority of enrolment growth remains in education and care services, where numbers were up 5.1% (or 6,022 enrolments) since 2012. Home-based serivces also had growth of 2.2% (or 408 enrolments). Kindergartens, playcentres and kōhanga reo all experienced a decrease in enrolment numbers down 3.3%, 5.1% and 2.0% respectively from 2012.

Figure 1.4: Growth in licensed service enrolments by service type between 2004-2013 and 2012-2013

Since 2004, enrolments in licensed services have been increasing between 0.4% and 4.4% each year, with a total rise of 23% since 2004. Over this period, the majority of enrolment growth has been in education and care services, with their number of enrolments up 53% (42,659 enrolments) since 2004. Similarly, home-based services have had high growth in enrolments from 2007 onwards, increasing by 90% (8,898 enrolments) since 2004.

Over the same period, other service types show a downward trend, with enrolments in kindergartens falling 23% (10,275 enrolments) and  playcentres and kōhanga reo both declining by 12% (between 1,200 to 1,800  enrolments) between 2004 and 2013 (see figure 1.3). In the case of kindergartens, a large factor was kindergartens changing from mainly sessional to mainly all-day services, with their overall enrolment numbers reducing as a consequence, but with children now attending for more hours.

Figure 1.5 shows the shift in the distribution of enrolments between ECE service types. Enrolments in education and care services now make up almost 62% of all enrolments in licensed services, an increase of 12 percentage points since 2004, while kindergartens now comprise 17% of all licensed service enrolments (down from 28% a decade ago).

Figure 1.5: Distribution of enrolments in licensed services by service type, 2004-2013

Enrolments by age

Children can enrol in ECE services up to their 6th birthday. The majority of children, some 123,000 (or 61%) of all children enrolled in ECE, were aged 3 or 4. Two year-olds made up 20% of all enrolments, and children aged under 2 made up 18% of enrolments in 2013. There were 2,367 five year-olds enrolled in ECE in June 2013, making up just 1.1% of all enrolments. Figure 1.6 shows these enrolments as a percentage of the total number of children of that age in the population. In June 2013, these enrolment rates varied from 15% for under-ones to 60% for two-year-olds, and over 95% for 3 and 4 year-olds.1

Figure 1.6: ECE enrolment rates by year of age, 2004-2013

The growth in enrolment rates between 2004 and 2013 has been highest for children aged one, two and three years. Enrolment rates for two year-olds have had the largest increase, up 4.2 percentage points to 65% in 2013 (figure 1.7).

Figure 1.7: Changes in enrolment rates by year of age, 2004-2013 and 2012-2013

In 2013, enrolment growth for children aged two and under increased while their population decreased (figure 1.8).

Figure 1.8: Changes in population growth and enrolment growth by year of age, 2012-2013

Figure 1.9 shows how enrolments for each age group are spread across the different types of ECE. A greater proportion of younger children use playcentres and home-based services, while a greater percentage of older children use kindergartens.  Use of education and care services is highest for two year-olds.

Figure 1.9: Percentage of enrolments in each service type, by year of age, 2013

Enrolments by ethnic group

In 2013, around 59% of enrolments in licensed services identified as European/Pākehā. Māori children comprised 22% of all enrolments, 7% were Pasifika, 9% were Asian and 2% belonged to other or had unknown ethnic groups (see figure 1.10).

Figure 1.10: Distribution of enrolments by ethnic group, 2004-2013

Between 2012 and 2013, the greatest increase in enrolment numbers was for Māori children, up 2,591 (6.2%) to 44,552 enrolments. Pasifika and Asian enrolment numbers also increased, with Pasifika enrolments up by 861 (6.2%) to 14,505 enrolments and Asian enrolments up by 1,921 (12%) to 17,897. European/Pākehā enrolments decreased in 2013, down by 1,096 (0.9%) to 118,824 enrolments. This likely reflects changes in the population of children aged 0 to 4, which fell by 4,000 in 2013.
Since 2004, the largest increase in enrolments has been in the Asian ethnic group, which has increased by 90%. Pasifika and Māori enrolments grew by 58% and 36%, respectively. In 2013, there were 11,686 more Māori enrolments in ECE compared with 2004, which represents the largest numerical gain of any ethnic group (figure 1.11).

Figure 1.11: Growth in enrolments by ethnic group, 2004-2013 and 2012-2013

Figure 1.12 shows how ECE use varies across the ethnic groups.  For Māori, 20% of enrolments were in ngā kōhanga reo, with fewer being in education & care services as a consequence.  The majority of children were in education and care services for each of the ethnic groups. 

Figure 1.12: Percentage of enrolments in each service type, by ethnic group, 2013

Playcentres and home-based services were more likely to be used by European/Pākehā children than by other ethnic groups, with their use being lowest for Pasifika children. Kindergartens tended to be used fairly consistently across different ethnic groups, with enrolments ranging from 17% to 19%.

Figure 1.13: Prior ECE participation rates by ethnic group, 2013

Prior participation rates show the percentage of those children starting school who have participated in some form of ECE in the six months prior to starting school. Prior ECE participation for Māori and Pasifika children remains lower than the national average rate of 95.7% for the year ended June 2013. However, the growth in participation remains higher for these groups (see figure 1.13).

Prior ECE participation rates have increased 4.2 percentage points for Pasifika children since 2004 (to 88.6%), while prior participation rates for Māori children have increased by 4.7 percentage points (to 92.3%) over the same period. By comparison, the overall prior participation rate grew by 2.7 percentage points from 93.0% to 95.7% over the 10-year period.

Hourly attendance is rising

Children continue to be enrolled longer in ECE across all teacher-led service types. Average hours enrolled per child per week increased from 21.1 hours in 2012 to 21.7 hours in 2013, an increase of 36 minutes. 54% of all ECE enrolments attended for 18 hours or more in 2013.

Figure 1.14: Average number of hours per week of child attendance by service type, 2004-2013

Between 2004 and 2013, the most sustained rises in the average number of hours per week attendance were for education and care services and kindergartens. Increases in average hours for these service types drove the overall increase over this period, with rises of 26% and 33%, respectively.

Average weekly hours of attendance at playcentres has remained largely constant since 2004 at around 4.6 hours. Average weekly hours fell for home-based services in 2009 but have since grown back to it's 2008 level. Growth in average weekly attendance hours grew for children of all ages between 2004 and 2013, with the exception of 5 year-olds whose average hours of attendance either fell or stayed the same from 2007 (see appendix table 6).

Figure 1.15: Average number of hours per week of child attendance by age group, 2004-2013

While historically, older children, on average have spent one or two fewer hours in ECE per week than their younger counterparts, this gap narrowed after the introduction of 20 Hours ECE in 2007.  In 2011, average hours spent in ECE for older children overtook those of younger children (see figure 1.15).

The highest growth in weekly attendance hours was for children aged 3 and 4, whose hours of attendance have grown by 6.8 hours and 6.1 hours respectively since 2004. Average hours have also grown for other ages but to a lesser extent.

Figure 1.16: Growth in average number of hours per week of child attendance by year of age, 2004-2013 and 2012-2013

In 2004, 56% of ECE enrolments were made up of children who attended ECE for an average of up to 15 hours per week. By 2013, this distribution had switched; now a greater proportion of children (67%) attend ECE for an average of more than 15 hours per week (see figure 1.17).

Figure 1.17: Distribution of enrolments by grouped hours per week of child attendance, 2004-2013

20 Hours ECE enrolments

The 20 Hours ECE scheme was introduced in July 2007. It meant that 3 and 4 year-old children who were enrolled in participating teacher-led ECE services, as well as some kōhanga reo services, could receive up to 20 hours free ECE per week. Playcentres, 5 year-olds, and all remaining kōhanga reo became eligible for 20 Hours ECE on 1 July 2010.

The 109,231 enrolments in 20 Hours ECE made up 91% of all enrolments for children aged 3-5 years in 2013. Education and care services had the largest increase, with the number of enrolments for this age group in 20 Hours ECE up 5.3% (3,520 enrolments) from 20122.

Figure 1.18: Percentage of 3-5 year-old enrolments with 20 Hours ECE, by service type, 2008-2013

In 2013, 3,662 services (or 85% of all licensed ECE services) were offering 20 Hours ECE to children. Figure 1.19 shows the proportion of 3 to 5 year-old children that were enrolled in 20 Hours ECE by service type compared with the proportion of services offering 20 Hours ECE that have children enrolled in the scheme.

Figure 1.19: Percentage of services and 3-5 year-old enrolments with 20 Hours ECE, by service type, 2013

Just over one-third of all playcentres (37%) and two thirds of home-based services had enrolled children under 20 Hours ECE, compared with nearly 100% in kindergartens and education and care services. The greatest difference between the percentage of 20 Hours ECE  services and the percentage of the scheme's enrolments was for home-based and playcentres. This perhaps reflects how families are using their 20 Hours when they have children attending across different service types.

Daily enrolments and attendance

On average, 84% of the regular roll attended ECE on any given day, where regular roll refers to children formally enrolled on a regular on-going basis.

Figure 1.20: Percentage of children enrolled that attended by day of week, 2013

Tuesday was the day with the highest number of enrolments and attendance. This pattern was found in kindergartens and education and care services; however playcentres and home-based services reported higher enrolment and attendance on Wednesdays.


Playgroups are analysed separately from licensed services in this report. This is because the trends may be less accurate due to year on year differences in reporting and in the number of playgroups answering the survey. In 2013, there were 845 listed playgroups, a decrease of 51 playgroups (5.6%) on 2012. Of these playgroups, 78% responded to the census, reporting 20,141 attendances. Around two-thirds of the children who attended playgroups were European/Pākehā.

Figure 1.21: Proportion of playgroup attendances by ethnic group and age, 2013

Around two-thirds of children who attended license-exempt playgroups and ngā puna kōhangahanga, were under the age of two, whereas Pasifika language centres were attended by children over 2 years. License-exempt playcentres had an even spread of 1, 2 and 3 year-olds.

Figure 1.22: Proportion of attendances by playgroup type and age, 2013

2. Services

Services growth

There were 5,100 ECE services in June 2013, down 1.1% (59 services) from June 2012. Of these services 4,255 were licensed services, down 8 services from 2012. Playgroup numbers fell by 5.7% to 845 playgroups, down 51 playgroups on 2012.

The fall in the number of licensed services does not reflect a real decline in the sector. It reflects the response to the change to licensing rules in June 2011, where the maximum number of places any one service could be licensed for increased from 50 to 150. As a result, many services decided to merge their previously separate services.

Figure 2.1: Growth in the number of licensed services, 2004-2013 (adjusted for mergers)

Once adjustments are made for these mergers, the number of licensed services grew by 2.2% between 2012 and 2013, and by 16.6% between 2004 and 2013 (see figure 2.1). There were 155 new services and 59 closed services (figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2: New and closed services and net growth in licensed services, 2004-2013

Overall growth has not been consistent across all service types.  It has been largely driven by growth in the number of education and care services, which make up the largest proportion of licensed ECE services (55% in June 2013). The majority of the 155 new services opening in 2013 were education and care services (119) and home-based services (30). By contrast, there has been little change for kindergartens (down 1), and kōhanga reo services (up 2), and a slight decline for playcentres (down by 9).

Operating structure

There are two types of operating structure; all-day and sessional. Services are sessional if they offer sessions of a few hours at a time. Services are all-day if children can attend throughout the day or all day.

Those services that offer different structures on different days of the week are called 'mixed'. Playcentres are sessional, home-based and ngā kōhanga reo tend to be all-day.  The majority of education and care and kindergartens are all-day services.
All-day services now form 87% of all licensed services up from 86% in 2012 and 65% since 2004.The largest shift in operating structure has been for kindergartens, with the majority now having an all-day structure rather than the traditional sessional structure. Figure 2.3 shows this shift starting after 2007 (after the introduction of 20 Hours ECE), with the proportion of all-day services increasing from 9% in 2004 to 93% in 2013.

Figure 2.3: Proportion of kindergartens by operating structure, 2004-2013

Funding bands

One indication of quality is the funding band that a service is on. A service's funding band determines it's rate of government funding. Services with higher percentages of their teaching staff as ECE qualified and registered receive more funding. The proportion of teacher-led, centre-based services in 80%+ funding bands has been consistently increasing since 2005. In 2013, 94% of teacher-led, centre-based services were in 80%+ funding bands compared with 44% in 2005.

In 2011 there was a change to the upper limit funding band for ECE centre-based teacher-led services. Services that received an 80-99% or 100% funding rate now could only receive the new teacher-led 80%+ funding band. The trend in the percentage of services in different funding bands is shown in figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4: Proportion of licensed teacher-led services by funding band, 2005-2013

Playcentres, ngā kōhanga reo and home-based services have different funding criteria and can fall under either a quality or a standard funding band, with a higher hourly rate being paid for the quality funding ban: These services meet additional requirements in relation to qualifications, enhanced adult-to-child ratios and the size of the service.

Figure 2.5: Proportion of home-based services, playcentres, and kōhanga reo in the quality funding band, 2005-2013

The proportion of total services in the quality funding band consistently increased from 2005 until 2012. The total proportion fell by 1 percentage point to 37% in 2013, reflecting the decrease for home-based services in this funding band. Te kōhanga reo are the only service type that have been consistently increasing their share over the last 9 years and with 75% of services in the quality funding band in 2013.

Waiting times

Waiting times are one indication of the capacity of services to provide ECE to children. Around a third of ECE services have waiting times of over a month.   Waiting times rose between 2004 and 2008, indicating growth of demand for ECE relative to actual service provision. However, they have since fallen below their levels of ten years ago (figure 2.6).

Figure 2.6: Average percentage of licensed services with waiting times of more than a month, by service type 2004-2013

The proportion of services with waiting times of more than a month rose 17 percentage points in the five years to 2008, from 39% to 56%.  Since then it has fallen 23 percentage points to 32% in 2013. The pattern varied considerably across service types, however, with the overall figures being largely driven by education and care services.

Waiting time figures vary considerably between service types.  For instance, few home-based services and playcentres have waiting times for new enrolments. The concept of a waiting list has less relevance for some home-based services; for example, where there is no available educator or caregiver in a given location, then that child does not go on a waiting list.  Alternatively, home-based or playcentres will often have the spare capacity to call on educators and caregivers or to take on extra parents and their children at short notice. 

By contrast, waiting times can be long for education and care services and for kindergartens. The service type differences can be seen clearly in Figure 2.7, which shows the percentage of services by their waiting times for each service type and age of child. Occupancy rates are a measure of how full ECE services are. They measure the extent that children are using all the hours that services would be funded for if their licensed places were full. Occupancy rates have remained steady at 80% in 2013.

Figure 2.7: Waiting times by age group for licensed services, 2013

Note: Waiting times for under 3 year-olds in kindergartens are not reported due to small numbers.

Waiting times increase slightly with each year of age for education and care services.  While the percentage of kindergartens with waiting times is fairly similar between 3 and 4 year-olds, 3 year-olds tend to wait for a longer period.  This is because of the tendency of kindergartens to take in 4 year-olds as a priority and to manage any capacity by limiting their intake of younger children.

Services using te reo Māori

In 2013, Māori was reported as a language of communication in 3,545 (or 83%) of all 4,255 licensed ECE services, a decrease of 1% (or 40 services) from 2012. Of these, te reo was used more than 50% of the time in 493 (or 12% of ECE services).There were a total of 10,181 enrolments in these 493 services.

1,218 (29% of) licensed ECE services reported using te reo Māori for at least 12% of teaching contact time. This was a reduction of 42 services (3%) compared to 2012, but an increase of 256 services (27%) since 2004.

Māori immersion services are sometimes measured as those where te reo is used more than 80% of the time. In 2013, Māori was used for over 80% of teaching contact time in 476 licensed services. This number was similar to that in 2012, where there were 473 Māori immersion services.

Figure 2.8: Distribution of services using te reo Māori by the amount of time used, 2004-2013

Of all services reporting use of te reo, 2,056 (or 58%) were education and care, 619 (or 17%) were kindergartens, 605 (or 11%) were playcentres and 465 (or 13%) were Kōhanga reo in 2013. Figure 2.9 shows how these proportions have varied since 2004.

Figure 2.9: Distribution of services by the amount of time te reo is used, 2013

Of all Māori immersion services, 465 were kōhanga reo and 11 were education and care services in 2013. This number remained similar to that in 2012, where there were 463 kōhanga reo and 10 education and care services.

Services using Pasifika languages

Some services cater specifically to children from Pasifika backgrounds and aim to build young children's knowledge of their own Pasifika language and culture. There is no specific Pasifika service 'type'. Rather, Pasifika services can be defined in several ways including by the cultural background of their students and teaching staff and the use of Pasifika languages.

In 2013, there were 499 centre-based services that reported using Pasifika languages, an increase of 3 services from 2012. This represents 12% of all centre-based services. Education and care services (79%) made up the majority of the services using a Pasifika language, followed by kindergartens (19%) and playcentres (2%).

Figure 2.10: Number of services that use Pasifika languages more than 50% of the time, by percentage of time language is used, 2013

Of all centre-based services, 96 (19%) used Pasifika language(s) for more than 50% of the time. There were a total of 2,997 enrolments in these 96 services. Samoan and Tongan were the languages most used in these services; 57 reported using Samoan over 50% of the time and 22 services reported using Tongan. The remaining services reported using Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan or Pukapukan.

Almost one-quarter (24%) of the education and care services that reported using Pasifika language(s), used Pasifika language(s) more than 50% of the time, in contrast with 1% for kindergartens.

There were 54 services that reported using Pasifika language(s) more than 80% of the time. Of these immersion services, all were education and care services, and 88% (or 46) services used Samoan & Tongan. There were a total of 1,754 enrolments in Pasifika immersion services in 2013.

Figure 2.11: Distribution of services by the amount of time Pasifika languages are used, 2013

Over three quarters of all centre-based services reported using Pasifika languages between 1 and 50% of the time. This pattern has remained relatively steady since 2004. The bulk of this distribution is in services which provide Pasifika language up to 12% of the time (figure 2.12).
Figure 2.12: Distribution of services using Pasifika languages by the amount of time used, 2004-2013

Services using Asian languages  

Reflecting the growth in Asian enrolments and teachers in ECE, there is an increasing use of Asian languages within the ECE sector. There were 784 (or 18% of all) ECE services that reported some use of an Asian language in 2013, up by 16 services (or 2%) from 2012 and by 387 services (or 97%) since 2004.

Figure 2.13: Percentage of centre-based services using Asian languages, 2004-2013

Figure 2.14 shows the number of services reporting use of an Asian language. The most common languages used were Chinese languages (including Mandarin and Cantonese), Hindi and Japanese. In 2013 there was only one service providing an Asian language (Japanese) over 50% of the time.

Figure 2.14: Number of centre-based services by the type of Asian language used, 2004-2013

3. Teaching Staff

Teacher-led services had a total of 22,200 teaching staff in 2013, up 740 (or 3.4%) since 2012 and 8,600 (64%) since 2004. Around 76% of (or 16,917) teaching staff were qualified in 2013, while the number of registered teaching staff was 75% (or 16,746). The proportion of teaching staff who are registered and qualified has increased steadily by between 1 and 5% a year since 2005, when they were respectively 52% and 54%.

This rise in registered teaching staff from 2004 is due to the combined impact of the new requirement that all 'Persons Responsible' in ECE be registered, additional funding incentives given to centres with more registered teaching staff, and teacher registration targets implemented in 2007. Previous to then, many qualified ECE teaching staff had not taken the additional step of becoming registered.

In order to be qualified, a teacher must hold a recognised ECE teaching qualification that leads to registration with the NZ Teachers Council. From November 2010, New Zealand qualified and registered primary teaching staff in ECE services could be counted for funding purposes.

Figure 3.1: Percentage of qualified and registered teaching staff, 2004-2013

From 2011, all statistics on qualified teaching staff in ECE also include those working in ECE with primary teaching qualifications.

Part-time /full-time teaching staff

Of the total teaching staff in 2013, 15,608 were reported as full-time, an increase of 5.1% on 2012, while part-time teaching staff numbers decreased 0.4% to around 6,500. 70% of teaching staff were full-time in 2013, up from 69% in 2012, but down from 73% in 2004.

The proportion of full-time teaching staff that were qualified has steadily increased from 57% in 2004 to 80% in 2013. Part-time qualified staff proportions have increased at a much faster rate over the same period. The number in this group rose by 32 percentage points with the highest growth between 2010 and 2011 (see figure 3.2). Overall, the proportion of qualified ECE teaching staff grew by 25 percentage points to 76% by 2013.

Figure 3.2: Percentage of full-time and part-time teaching staff in licensed services by qualification status, 2004-2013

Teaching staff by service type

Kindergartens had the largest percentage increase in numbers of teaching staff with 4.1% (110) more teaching staff since 2012. The majority of this increase was in part-time teaching staff which increased by 96 over the period. The number of education and care teaching staff increased by 3.6% (642) and the number of home-based co-ordinators rose by 3.3% (or 20).

Figure 3.3: Percentage of qualified teaching staff in teacher-led services by service type, 2004-2013

Almost all teaching staff in kindergartens and almost all co-ordinators in home-based services were qualified in 2013. The proportion of qualified staff in kindergartens has remained the same around 95% between 2004 and 2013. Home-based co-ordinators are required to be qualified and registered, which is reflected in this group's qualified rate increasing from 88% to 100% over the same period. By contrast, two-thirds (73%) of teaching staff in education and care services were qualified in 2013, compared with 42% in 2004.
80% of qualified ECE teachers worked in education and care services, up from 79% in 2012 and 69% in 2004.  The share of the sector's qualified teaching staff working in kindergartens has decreased from 25% in 2004 to 16% in 2013.

Figure 3.4: Distribution of qualified teaching staff in teacher-led services by service type, 2004-2013

In 2013, almost all co-ordinators and teaching staff in home-based and kindergarten services were registered with the NZTC (99.0% and 94.5%, respectively). Kindergarten services have always retained high teacher registration rates, but home-based rates rose sharply from just over two thirds in 2004 to over 90% in 2005 (figure 3.5). Registration rates are lower for education and care services (72%) but have increased the most over time (44.5 percentage points since 2004).

Teaching staff by gender

The total number of male ECE teaching staff in teacher-led services increased by 11% from 438 teaching staff in 2012 to 486 teaching staff in 2013. By contrast, the number of female ECE teaching staff grew by 3.3% (from 21,017 to 21,707) between 2012 and 2013. Males made up 2.2% of all teaching staff in teacher-led services in 2013 up from 1.1% in 2007. These proportions were similar for education and care services and kindergartens.

Kōhanga Reo services, by contrast, had a much higher proportion of male teaching staff, 13% in 2013, similar to their 2012 level, and up from 9.9% in 2007. Playcentres also had slightly more male on-duty adults then at teacher-led services, at 2.8% in 2013.

Teaching staff by ethnic group3

Asian teaching staff has had the largest percentage increase in 2013 up 9.6% to 2,504. This was followed by an increase in both Māori and Pasifika teaching staff, up 6.2% to 2,133 and 4.3% to 1,916 respectively from 2012. European/Pākehā teaching staff increased by 2.4%, but had the greatest increase in numbers from 15,459 in 2012 to 15,828 teaching staff in 2013.

Māori and Pasifika teaching staff made up around the same proportions of all teaching staff in 2013, 8.5% and 8.0%, respectively. This equates to 1,441 and 1,354 teaching staff, respectively. Between 2004 and 2013, the number of teaching staff that identified with these two ethnic groups has increased by 80% and 90%, respectively. The proportion of teaching staff who are qualified has increased the most over the last decade for Asian teaching staff. Asian teaching staff now make up 11.4% of all ECE teaching staff, an 8.3% increase from a 3.0% share in 2004 (figure 3.5).

Figure 3.5: Distribution of teaching staff in teacher-led services by ethnic group, 2004-2013

Figure 3.6 shows the growth in the proportion of teaching staff who are qualified, by ethnic groups. The proportion of teachers who were ECE qualified ranged from 78% for European/ Pākehā teaching staff, 68% for Māori teaching staff and 71% for Pasifika teaching staff. Asian teaching staff had the greatest percentage increase since 2004, up from 33.0% qualified to 77% qualified in 2013.

Figure 3.6: Percentage of qualified teaching staff by ethnic group, 2004-2013

There were more qualified European/Pākehā teachers than teaching staff in other ethnic groups between 2004 and 2013. However, the high rate of growth in qualified Asian teaching staff, from 216 in 2004 to 1,930 in 2013, meant that the Asian ethnic group has the second highest rate of qualified teaching staff (77.1%) compared with European/Pākehā teaching staff (78.1%).

Teacher child ratios  

Data on teacher-to-child ratios is collected using the 'busiest time' question on the Annual Census of ECE Services which asks for the number of children and teaching staff at the busiest time during the survey week. The number of teaching staff includes day-to-day relievers as well as the usual teaching staff present at that time, and the number of children includes casual attendees as well as children on the regular roll.
Across all centre-based teacher-led services in 2013, there was an average of 1 teacher for every 6 children. This ranged from an average of 1:3 for education and care services catering to under twos only to 1:13 for sessionally-run kindergartens.

Figure 3.7: Distribution of teacher-to-child ratios by service type and age group, 2013

Figure 3.7 shows the large range of ratios operating across the different types of services. All-day education and care services catering for under two year-olds only are least dispersed, with 88% operating with 1 teacher to between 2 and 4 children. This is not surprising as the lower the ratio, the smaller the distribution possible. The teacher-to-child ratios in the sessional kindergarten services are most dispersed. These range from 1 teacher to 5 children to 1 teacher to 15 children at the top of the range. The ratios for all-day kindergartens are less dispersed than all-day education and care services catering for the same age group, with 95% operating with 1 teacher to between 6 and 10 children for kindergartens and 94% of education and care services operating with 1 teacher to between 4 and 10 children. 

Teacher turnover

Turnover rates are affected by both teaching staff leaving the sector and the appointment of new staff. High or increasing turnover, as occurred in 2008, can be a positive indicator where it represents an expanding workforce. Alternatively it can reflect increasing losses as occurred with non-qualified staff in 2012.

The national annual average teaching staff turnover rate across all centre-based teacher-led ECE services as at June 2013 was 19.3%, compared with 22.1% for the annual average turnover rate for the education and training industry as a whole (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). 

Figure 3.8: Average annual rate of teacher turnover for teacher-led services by whether or not teaching staff were qualified (2005-2013)

The average turnover rate for qualified teaching staff over the years 2005-2010 was consistently higher than for non-qualified teaching staff. It reached a maximum rate of 27% in 2008 when all turnover rates peaked irrespective of qualification status. Since then, total turnover rates have fallen to below 2005 levels and are currently still declining.
Since 2010 however, the turnover rate for non-qualified teaching staff has risen, while the rate for qualified teaching staff has continued to decline. In 2012, the turnover rates for non-qualified teaching staff exceeded that of qualified teaching staff for the first time and continued to in 2013. The 1 February 2011 change in subsidy funding rates may have provided some services with less incentive to hire qualified staff once reaching the 80% threshold, providing a limiting effect on the turnover of qualified staff.

Figure 3.9: Average annual rate of teacher turnover for teacher-led centre-based ECE services (2005-2013)

Figure 3.9 shows the turnover rates for the different service types. Kindergarten turnover has been consistently lower than for education and care services (15% compared with 20% in 2013). Apart from the increase in turnover in 2008, total turnover for ECE services has closely followed the rate for the education and training industry as a whole.

As mentioned earlier, turnover rates are affected by both expansion and loss. The teacher turnover rate at a service is linked to the sustainability of the service and includes teaching staff who move to another ECE service (movements) and teaching staff who leave the sector completely (losses).

The proportion of teaching staff lost to the sector was 7.3% in 2013, down 0.5 percentage points on 2012 and down 2.0 percentage points from 2005. Figure 3.10 shows that the proportion of teaching staff lost from the sector is higher for those teaching staff that are not qualified.

Figure 3.10: Proportion of teaching staff lost to the ECE sector by whether or not they were qualified (2005-2013)

Turnover was highest in 2008 for both qualified and non-qualified teaching staff; however the percentage of teaching staff lost to the sector dropped significantly for non-qualified teaching staff and only changed slightly for qualified teaching staff. This followed the introduction of 20 Hours ECE, which, supported by population growth, led to a 10% growth in licensed services between 2007 and 2009. Therefore, although turnover was high in 2008 it was mostly due to staffing gains and not teaching staff leaving positions, or the sector in general.

Teaching staff in ECE study

In 2013, 9.0% of all teaching staff were in study towards a recognised ECE teaching qualification. This was a decrease of 18% (430 teaching staff) from 2012.

The majority of teaching staff in ECE study between 2005 and 2013 were in education and care services. The number of teaching staff in ECE study in this service type rose steadily between 2005 and 2010, but since then has decreased by 44.5%, from 3,563 in 2010 to 1,953 in 2013.

Appendix: Tables

These are available in the download of this report, located as a MS Word document in the right hand column under "Downloads/Links".


  1. These enrolment rates over-estimate the true child participation rates, as children enrolled in more than one ECE service are counted more than once.
  2. Data on 20 Hours ECE enrolments is not collected for ngā kōhanga reo.
  3. Data for 2011 onwards counts teaching staff that have more than one ethnic group in each group they have reported. Data before 2011 is only available on a single response basis. Between 2%-4% of teaching staff report more than one ethnic group.

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