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New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 5)

New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 5)

Level 5

Learn the skills to work in an early childcare centre with UCOL's New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

A photograph of UCOL early childhood students at the workshop with paint and clay in their hands
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North, UCOL Whanganui

Duration: 1 year fill-time (41 weeks)
Part-time option available.
(See Course Hours & Duration for details)

Palmerston North & Whanganui
25 Jul 2022 - 30 Jun 2023

Domestic Fees: *
$6135.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

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.

Learn the skills to work in a range of early childhood contexts, working professionally and collaboratively to provide education and care of infants, toddlers, and young children with UCOL's New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

The Diploma has been developed in partnership with Iwi to ensure inclusion of local culturally competent practices that include history, stories and knowledge that can be shared confidently with tamariki in and early childhood setting.

This locally driven curriculum will ensure the whakapapa of the area is entwined in the early childhood teaching practices and meets the growing need for educators to be able to incorporate Te Reo and Tikanga in the day to day delivery of Te Whariki. This diploma has been designed to ensure that there is a balanced delivery of practical and theory based learning.

The New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care is offered as a blended delivery programme with one day a week on campus.

COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

The New Zealand Government COVID-19 Mandate Order requires the following workers to be vaccinated: 

  • health and disability sector workers
  • prison staff
  • border and MIQ workers.

As well as that, private companies and organisations have the right to require staff to be vaccinated.

Therefore, to go on placement or an internship that is a part of your programme, you must meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements. You can see more information on UCOL's Covid-19 page and on the Unite Against Covid-19 website.

 Course Hours & Duration

This programme runs for 41 weeks, including 7 holiday weeks.

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
12 hrs

Lectures, tutorials and/or online recordings.
Industry Experience
12 hrs

Field base work experience in a ECE workplace.
Study Time
8 hrs

Study in your own time.

You can also choose to study part-time, or possibly by paper. Talk to us about your options with this programme.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of the New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education will be proficient educators who, in a range of early childhood contexts, can competently care for infants, toddlers and young children. Employment options may include:

  • Centre-based care
  • Hospital-based care (play specialist assistant)
  • Home-based care
  • Nanny
  • Parent-led care
  • Culturally-based contexts

Graduates may provide supervision and/or guidance of volunteers or other staff, depending on the workplace setting.

This qualification does not lead to teacher registration, but graduates may choose to undertake further study towards:

  • New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 6) (Not offered by UCOL)

Certain graduates may be able to undetake further study towards Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education).

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

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time.

All students must attend two compulsory noho marae, one in your first semester and one in your second semester. These noho are overnight stays. The dates are:

  • Wairarapa campus  - 21/22 August
  • Palmerston North campus - 14/15 August
  • Whanganui campus - TBC

This programme comprises 120 credits. The courses include:

Child Development (15 Credits)
Students will learn theoretical perspectives of child development (from birth to six years) relevant to the context of Aotearoa. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe key local and global theories of child development and learning approaches.
  • Explain the significance of understanding child development and learning theories in teaching mokopuna in early childhood settings.
  • Explain the connections between current neuroscience and child development and learning theories, perspectives and approaches.

Education and Society (15 Credits)
Ākonga will examine social and cultural contexts in education, including the Tiriti o Waitangi and the implications for early childhood education. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe how knowledge of the history of te Tiriti o Waitangi informs Treaty-based relationships in early childhood education in New Zealand.
  • Explain how the education system shapes the role of teachers in Aotearoa.
  • Analyse concepts of equity and equality in Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings in New Zealand.
Professional Inquiry in Practice 1: Professional and Reflective Practice (15 Credits)
Students will gain the knowledge, practice, values and attitudes required to be effective professional teachers in early childhood education. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Document observations of children’s learning and development.
  • Describe your developing teaching practices to facilitate children’s learning and development.
  • Develop the use of te reo and tikanga Māori.
  • Apply reflective practice in an ECE context.
  • Demonstrate beginning/emerging skills and knowledge related to The Standards for the Teaching Profession.
Professional Inquiry in Practice 2: Communication and Relationships (15 Credits)
Ākonga will learn the collaborative communication skills required to be effective professional teachers in early childhood education. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Develop effective communication and collaborative relationships as part of the professional responsibilities of early childhood teachers.
  • Apply appropriate cultural protocols when communicating with Māori and Pasifika learners and their families.
  • Discuss the roles and responsibilities of a professional early childhood teacher.
  • Develop the correct pronunciation and use of te reo and tikanga Māori in the Practical Experience Placement.
  • Demonstrate emerging skills and knowledge related to The Standards for the Teaching Profession.
Te Puna Reo (15 Credits)
Students will learn te reo Māori me ngā tikanga and its relevance to their work in early childhood services. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Use correct pronunciation of te reo Māori words and sentences appropriate for teaching and learning experiences at an introductory level in an early childhood setting.
  • Recite karakia, mihi, pepeha and perform waiata ā ringa while participating in pōwhiri on the marae.
  • Retell significant local pūrākau of hapū and iwi of the area.
  • Reflect on participation in noho marae.
Play, Curriculum & Pedagogy (15 Credits)
Ākonga will learn the concept of play as a curriculum in Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Explain how play contributes to young children’s learning and development within the context of New Zealand, from a range of national and international perspectives.
  • Analyse children’s learning and development based on observations using various techniques.
  • Explain the role of the teacher in supporting children’s play.
Artistic Languages of Children (15 Credits)
Students will develop curriculum knowledge, skills and understandings of effective learning and teaching processes and strategies in the visual arts, music and movement. After completing this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe how the visual arts and music and movement experiences contribute to young children’s learning and development.
  • Explain the importance of artistic, cultural images and experiences and how these support children’s sense of cultural identity.
  • Plan and implement artistic and music and movement curriculum in response to diverse abilities, interests and needs.
Educational Approaches (15 Credits)
Ākonga will understand historical and contemporary educational ideas, philosophies and approaches informing early childhood education in Aotearoa. After this course, you will be able to:
  • Compare the ideas of a historical and contemporary educationalist who inform early childhood education.
  • Examine the range of early childhood approaches to education in New Zealand.

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 3


New Zealand/National Certificates in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3 or Level 4),


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 the completion of New Zealand Police vetting.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5 with no band score less than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL testing centre.


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 language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL testing centre.

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

As UCOL becomes Te Pūkenga on 1 January 2023, learners enrolling in a programme that is likely to continue into semester 1 2023 or starting in semester 1 2023 will become Te Pūkenga learners. They will receive their qualification from Te Pūkenga on completion.

Students will be placed in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL to complete 120 hours of work experience across two semesters. Work placements and successful completion of the programme are dependent on a satisfactory police check and UCOL’s ability to place students successfully.

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 Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care 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
  • May, Helen. Politics in the Playground. Approximate cost $60.00
  • Orange, Claudia. The Story of a Treaty. Approximate cost $30.00
  • Wairarapa Moana - The Lake and is People. Fraser Books. Approximate cost $50.00 (For Wairarapa based students)
  • Walker, Ranganui. Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle without End. Approximate cost $40.00
  • MacNaughton, G. & Williams, G. (2008), Teaching Techniques for Young Children. Approximate cost $120


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.