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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)


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, UCOL Wairarapa in Masterton

Duration: 1 year, full-time (one day a week on-campus)

21 Feb 2022 - 02 Dec 2022
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 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.

You can see more information on this on UCOL's Covid-19 page, and on the Ministry of Health's website.

?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

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.

Early Childhood Learning Theories and Development (15 Credits)
Develop broad theoretical knowledge of early childhood education theories of learning and development to inform practice.

  • Language and culture
  • Brain development
  • Significance of neuroscience & implications for practice
  • Development theories and approaches
  • Brain architecture
  • Relationships/Attachment

Culturally Appropriate Practices in an Early Childhood Setting (15 Credits)
Learn to engage with confidence and competency in your use and understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ao Māori within your local community. The course covers:

  • The history of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Local iwi and hapū within the early childhood context
  • Te Ao Māori - building relationships, caring, unity, bonding, leadership, reciprocal learning
  • Te Reo Māori me onā tikanga Māori - basic praise phrases, simple instructions, waiata, understanding of tapu and noa in early childhood centre practices
  • Pasifika salutations and phrases
  • Communication techniques

Communication in an Early Childhood Setting (15 Credits)
Develop a range of skills and observation techniques to effectively communicate and develop collaborative relationships in an early childhood setting.

History of Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand (15 Credits)
Develop a broad theoretical understanding of the historical context of early child education in Aotearoa New Zealand and its implications for practice, to inform your developing philosophies.

Legislative Requirements in an Early Childhood Context (15 Credits)
Develop an understanding of professional standards, legal requirements and ethical principles within the early childhood education context.

Holistic Teaching and Learning in an Early Childhood Setting (15 Credits)
Develop a range of relevant pedagogies and assessment practices in regards to infants, toddlers and young children and their learning.

Te Puna Mātauranga Māori (15 Credits)
Create a collection of appropriate teaching resources that enhance cultural responsiveness within an early childhood education and care setting.

Advanced Early Childhood Practicum (15 Credits) (120 practicum hours)
Learn to effectively engage in an early childhood setting, displaying culturally and responsive practice.

?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.


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 iBT testing centre

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

?Advice & Guidance

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.