Annual ECE Census 2018: Fact Sheets

Publication Details

These fact sheets summarise the results from the June 2018 Annual Census of ECE services. They provide snapshots of a sector-wide statistical summary of key aspects of the early childhood education sector.

Author(s): Education Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: December 2018


The Early Childhood Education (ECE) census is administered every year and provides a snapshot of high level statistics for ECE in New Zealand. Data captured is for a one week period, typically the last week in June and includes information about the services, enrolment/attendance numbers, teaching staff, and the use of languages.

The 2018 ECE census week was June 18 to 24.

Key Findings


  • Overall attendance at licensed ECE services have fallen from 202,772 children in last year’s Census to 200,793 children in 2018.
  • 64.4% of New Zealand children aged 0-4 years attended a licensed ECE service in the census week.
  • Younger children (under the age of 1) are less likely to attend ECE, and older children more likely; approximately 96.3% of children aged 4 years attended ECE during the census week.
  • Education and care services and kindergartens accounted for 67% of attendances in 2018.
  • The average weekly hours of attendance increased from 20 hours and 45 minutes in 2017 to 21 hours and 27 minutes in 2018. Average hours of attendance have been steadily increasing since 2015.
  • Home-based ECE services have the longest average weekly attendance hours in 2018 (24 hours and 44 minutes), while playcentres have the shortest (4 hours and 11 minutes).
  • The overall number of licensed ECE services has decreased from 4,567 services in 2017 to 4,532 services in 2018.
  • There has been an increase in the number of education and care services to 2,584 (up from 2,558 in 2017), while all other service types have seen a decrease in their numbers.
  • The most significant waiting times for an ECE placement are seen in Gisborne. Over half of the 42 ECE services (excluding kōhanga reo) in Gisborne have waiting times for enrolments of 3 year olds (21% of services have waiting times of up to a month; 17% have waiting times of between 1 to 6 months, and 14% have waiting times over 6 months).
  • The West Coast is the region which has the lowest proportion of ECE services (excluding kōhanga reo) with waiting times. Of these services, 19 have no waiting for enrolments of 3 year olds, while the other 7 have waiting times (3 services have a wait of up to a month, 3 services between 1 and 6 months, and 1 service has a waiting time of over 6 months).
Teaching Staff
  • The number of teaching staff across ECE services in New Zealand increased from 38,186 in 2017 to 39,118 in 2018 (including home-based educators). The majority of teaching staff are at education and care services.
  • In 2018, 57% of all teaching staff were qualified, up from 56% in 2017.
    1. Home-based services have a high proportion of educators without ECE qualifications – in 2018, 90% of home-based educators did not have an ECE qualification and 10% did. In 2017, only 7% of home-based educators had an ECE qualification.
    2. If home-based educators are excluded, 21,467 (68%) of the remaining 31,418 teaching staff are qualified, down from the 69% that was reported in 2017.
Language use in ECE
  • There were 655 ECE services in 2018 that offered either bilingual (51-80% of teaching time) or immersion (81-100% of teaching time) language instruction in a language other than English. This was a decrease of 1 service from 2017.
  • There were 453 kōhanga reo in 2018, which accounted for the majority of immersion ECE services. Excluding kōhanga reo, there were 111 bilingual and 91 immersion services covering a range of languages.
  • Te reo Māori, Tongan, Samoan and Northern Chinese languages are the most commonly spoken in bilingual or immersion ECE services. There are no services offering bilingual or immersion ECE in New Zealand Sign Language.
ECE in low socioeconomic areas
  • There are more ECE services in low socioeconomic areas compared to high socioeconomic areas (based on comparing NZ Dep Index 9 and 10 areas with NZ Dep 1 and 2 areas).
  • Kōhanga reo account for a higher proportion of services in low socioeconomic areas, and playcentres account for a higher proportion of services in high socioeconomic areas. Education and care services account for the largest proportion of services in all areas, regardless of socioeconomic level.
  • A higher number of children attend ECE services in low socioeconomic areas (reflecting the number of services in each area), and Māori and Pacific children account for a larger proportion of children who attend ECE services in low socioeconomic areas than in high socioeconomic areas.
  • Waiting times are longer in high socioeconomic areas. Over half of all ECE services in NZ Dep 1 areas (high socioeconomic/least deprived areas) have waiting times for enrolments of 3 year olds (with 12% of services in these areas having waiting times of over 6 months), compared to 33% of ECE services in NZ Dep 10 areas (low socioeconomic/most deprived areas, where 4% of services have waiting times of over 6 months).

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