Early Childhood Education

Participation in high quality ECE has significant benefits for children and their future learning ability. ECE can positively impact literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills well into the teenage years. ECE also encourages the development of cognitive and attitudinal competencies, and leads to higher levels of achievement and better social outcomes.

ECE Participation has been identified as a key factor in supporting vulnerable children which has led to its inclusion in the Better Public Services Programme, launched in 2012. This Programme aims to increase participation in early childhood education to 98% of all new entrants by 2016 Prior ECE participation shows those students starting school that regularly participated in ECE prior to starting school.

Identical information is available for the region’s territorial authorities using the drop down menu above. For other territorial authorities first choose the appropriate region from the drop down menu above. Identical information for schools can be found on the Find a School pages.

Prior participation in early childhood education by ethnic group and gender (2017-2019)
Group Did not attend ECE Attended ECE Prior participation rate (%)
2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019 2017 2018 2019
Female 13 14 13 347 317 333 96.4 95.8 96.2
Male 17 7 8 356 330 372 95.4 97.9 97.9
Māori 25 17 19 451 423 450 94.7 96.1 95.9
Pacific 2 2 0 39 29 35 95.1 93.5 100.0
Asian 0 0 x 24 19 x 100.0 100.0 -1.0
Other 0 0 x 7 7 x 100.0 100.0 -1.0
European/Pākehā 3 5 3 272 268 286 98.9 98.2 99.0
Total 30 21 21 703 647 705 95.9 96.9 97.1


  1. The data presented here are for the 12 months ending 31 December for each year. They are calculated using data released as part of the 2020 second quarterly update. These data may differ slightly from earlier or later quarterly updates.
  2. ‘x’ = data has been suppressed where there are between 0 and 5 students in the denominator for a specific group, for example Asian students. Where one gender has been suppressed the corresponding gender has also been suppressed. Please note schools with small numbers of new entrants (less than 20) often are subject to large fluctuations and may not provide a very reliable basis for comparison with other categories. ‘na’ = not applicable.
  3. Ethnicity is multiple response, that is, students who affiliated in more than one ethnic group have been counted in each ethnic group. MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) are included under Other Students. MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African) are included under Other Students. Students are only counted once in the total, therefore, the ethnic groups may not sum to the total.
  4. The number of students with unknown prior ECE attendance has been excluded from both the numerator and denominator when calculating participation rates.