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New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (L4) (In-work/home based)

New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (L4) (In-work/home based)

Level 4

Are you currently working with infants, toddlers or young children in a home-based sector but lack a formal qualification? UCOL can assist you in formalising your knowledge and upskilling you to achieve a Level 4 qualification.

A photograph of UCOL students in an early childhood class playing with clay
Quick info

Level: 4

Locations: Online and through UCOL partners across New Zealand.

Duration: 19 weeks, full-time

Cohort based enrolments on demand.

Domestic Fees: *
Eligible for fees-free. Contact our info centre.Scholarship info

International Fees:*
Please enquire for details

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care is specifically designed for those already working with the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector. The programme offers various delivery options, including; evening and weekend classes and or online at a time that suits you.

This course is currently delivered through one night a week tutorials (2 hours approx.) and every 3rd Saturday (4 hours approx.). The delivery could be on your local campus or at your workplace/home-based office.

We have high success rates for the programme, with an overall pass rate of 90%. We ensure that you are well supported throughout your study, and we set you up for success from the start.

To find out more please contact us on


In addition to the government fees-free scheme, UCOL has been awarded a Ministry of Education contract to help home-based educators throughout New Zealand gain the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care Level 4. This means for home-based ECE staff, your fees and student services levy are all covered, making the programme 100% free.

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

As of October 2021, the Government has announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for those working in the healthcare and education sectors. UCOL, and our students, are required to comply. The Government’s mandate means that many practicum placement providers will require students to be vaccinated before your practicum. The placement hours are essential for this programme. If you are not COVID-19 vaccinated, your placement access will be very limited. This will affect your ability to complete this programme successfully, and become qualified.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care will be able to:

  • understand key early childhood socio-cultural theories of learning and development to inform and guide the holistic development and learning of children in an early childhood setting;
  • use knowledge of multiculturalism, family diversity, and the bicultural nature of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, to plan, provide and review enriching learning experiences for infants, toddlers, and young children;
  • contribute to providing a culturally inclusive early childhood environment to foster the health, holistic well-being, and care of infants, toddlers, and young children;
  • communicate effectively and engage in respectful, reciprocal, and responsive relationships within an early childhood education and care community;
    implement strategies to manage personal health, wellbeing, and professional development in an early childhood setting;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of legislation and regulatory requirements, and how community and government services impact on early childhood settings and guide practices, to protect and support the wellbeing of children and families;
  • understand the diverse philosophical and cultural contexts and approaches informing early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand to develop a personal philosophy of practice;
  • implement bicultural early childhood education practice and promote awareness of Māori as tangata whenua, through using te reo Māori and tikanga Māori with infants, toddlers, young children and families/whānau in early childhood settings.

Education pathway
Graduates who wish to further specialise can enrol in:

New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education L5 or Bachelor of Teaching (ECE)

Employment opportunities include working in a range of early childhood education settings as educators (teachers), Kaimahi, support workers, session leaders or organisers in parent-led services or playgroups including Pasifika and Māori.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Teachers.

 Course Information

This programme comprises 60 credits.

Learning and Development Theories (15 Credits)
Gain a broad theoretical understanding of the learning and development of infants, toddlers and young children. The course covers:

  • Concept of Ako
  • Significance of neuroscience
  • Attachment relationships and transitions
  • Socio-culture theories and holistic development
  • Models of wellbeing
  • Health, safety, care and nutrition requirements

Culture and Identity (15 Credits)
Learn to communicate and interact with a diverse range of cultural groups within Aotearoa New Zealand.

Professional and Ethical Principles and Practices (15 Credits)
Gain an understanding of relevant fundamental legislative documents and their impact on ethical practice in an early childhood setting.

Early Childhood Practicum (15 Credits) (60 practicum hours)
This course maybe credited to you if you can provide evidence that you have met the course aim through your current employmment.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 2;


the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)


equivalent academic achievement on a case-by-case basis;


at the discretion of the Executive Dean.

Students must authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency. If a conviction and/or a matter of concern is identified, the decision for accepting the applicant’s enrolment onto the programme is at the discretion of the Head of School.

UCOL will undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL meets the legislative requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act, 2014.  UCOL will do this on behalf of early childhood education institutions and providers of private childcare placements hosting UCOL students.  The safety check involves confirming the student’s work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and completing New Zealand Police vetting. 


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants.

English Proficiency Entry Requirements
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS (or equivalent, including TOEFL) score of 5.5 with no band lower than 5. IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (ie combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes.

 Advice & Guidance

Full attendance is encouraged to maximise learning opportunities and to optimise success for students. Completion of this programme is required within three years of the date of first enrolment.

Work experience

Students will be placed in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL to achieve the required 60 hours of practicum if they are not already working within the sector.

Work placements and successful completion of the programme are dependent on a satisfactory police check and UCOL’s ability to place students successfully.


Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a commitment of:

  • On-campus tutorials
  • Self-directed learning (your own time spent on research and study to complete your written assignments)
  • 60 hours of practicum placement

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4) as follows:

The following books are available from leading book stores including textbooksRus.

  • Clark, B. & Grey, A. (ED.). (2010). Āta Kitea Te Pae – Scanning the horizon. Perspectives on early childhood education. North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. Approximate cost $64.00
  • Drewery, W. & Claibourne, L. (2014). Human Development: Family, place and culture (2nd ed.). Australia: McGraw-Hill Education Pty Ltd. Approximate cost $100.00


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.