Level 5

Study early childhood education (ECE)

Get the skills and hands-on experience to get a job in early childhood education. This practical qualification will give you real-world experience working in a range of early childhood settings and provide you core teaching skills.

Programme highlights

Get the skills and knowledge necessary for becoming a proficient educator.

On completion of this programme you will be able to provide and support the education and care of infants, toddlers, and young children in a range of early childhood contexts.

Students learn about early childhood education and curriculum in Aotearoa, human development and learning, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ao Māori, belonging and well-being and professional relationships.

Spend up to three days a week learning with a blend of classroom and online experiences and activities. You will also spend two days per week (12 hours) in an early childhood centre where you will apply classroom theory to practical scenarios.

In Semester 1 you will spend one week full time (35 hours) in your home centre. In Semester 2 you will also experience a three-week full-time (105 hours) placement in another early childhood setting. This placement will be organised by the School of Education Practicum co-ordinator. Get real experience working in an early childhood setting with four weeks of full-time placement.

On successful completion of the diploma programme, you will be eligible under specified criteria, to pathway into the second year of the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Teaching) (Level 7).

This programme has been developed to align with the first year of our Bachelor of Education (ECT) Degree. This programme does not lead to teacher registration, but it may provide opportunities for graduates, under specified criteria, to pathway into the second year of the degree. Students wanting to pathway to our Level 7 ECE initial teacher education qualification will need to; successfully complete this programme and meet all other entry criteria of the degree, including being interviewed and supplying new referee reports,  and those who are EAL achieving Academic IELTS 7 in all bands.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Academic admission requirements

Applicants under 20 years of age: NCEA level 2 or equivalent

Entry over 20 years of age: Applicants who are 20 years of age at the commencement of the programme and have relevant life and/or work experience do not have to meet the minimum academic requirements (with the exception of English Language criteria).

Safety checks

To satisfy the risk assessment and safety check required in compliance with the Vulnerable Children Act (2014) the following requirements are in place:

  1. Provide a New Zealand Police Check (using the NZ Police and Vetting Consent to Disclosure of Information form) that demonstrates that the applicant has no criminal record and thus meets the requirements to work with at-risk and vulnerable children as required by the Vulnerable Children Act (2014)
  2. Interviews will be conducted in person. Skype or other electronic means as outlined in the Vulnerable Children Act (2014) will be used where distance is an issue
  3. Sign a statement agreeing to the release of pertinent information relevant to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 that a Childcare centre may request
  4. Provide two satisfactory written referee reports
  5. Provide one photograph that meets the criteria defined by the New Zealand passport office: https://www.passports.govt.nz/Passport-Photo-Requirements
English language entry requirements

Applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient competence in English language and literacy to undertake this programme.

  • Applicants for whom English is not their first language (including International students) must demonstrate that they meet an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Academic version minimum score of 5.5 with nothing lower than 5.0 in all components.
  • International students must further meet the English language requirements as specified by NZQA

Visit the IELTS test centre for more information.


Exempted case: EAL applicants who have completed the New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Professional/Academic) (Level 5) or achieved 10 literacy credits (5 reading and 5 writing) from the New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Academic) (Level 4).

Applicants who do not meet the IELTS requirement are able to re-apply for future intakes to the programme once this English language requirement has been met.

Special & discretionary admission

Any ākonga who is 20 years of age or older and has not reached the general admission requirements for their intended programme is eligible for Special Admission. Te Pūkenga works with the ākonga to ensure they are prepared for their intended programme. Any ākonga who is not yet 20 years of age and has not reached the general admission requirements for their intended programme may be eligible for Discretionary Admission. In assessing whether to grant Discretionary Admission, the delegated authority focuses on the applicant’s level of preparedness for their intended programme.


Book your British Council IELTS test with us.

You will complete your test in one day, plus get free online tuition to help you succeed. We offer paper-based or computer-delivered IELTS. Choose computer-delivered IELTS and get your results in 3-5 days.

Give yourself credit with Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Did you know you can use the knowledge and experience you already have to your advantage?

Your previous work experience and on-the-job skills, volunteering, professional development, and other providers’ qualifications can be recognised as prior learning, matched against credits in our courses, and put towards your qualification – potentially saving you money and possibly helping you to complete your qualification faster Learn more.

Programme structure

Programme structure

You will need to complete the below five courses (120 credits):

922.501 Tikanga Māori and te Tiriti o Waitangi (20 credits)

Engage in early childhood education practices which reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi and the place of Māori as tangata whenua.

902.538 Belonging, health and well-being (20 credits)

Provide a healthy, safe, and inclusive environment for the protection, care, wellbeing and education of children/mokopuna as guided by legislative and

regulatory requirements and children's rights (UNCROC).

922.540 Learning and development 0-6 (25 credits)

Apply knowledge of key early childhood teaching, learning and development theories and approaches, and historical influences, to inform and guide practice in Aotearoa New Zealand.

922.539 Early childhood curriculum in Aotearoa (25 credits)

Implement the philosophy, principles, and practices embodied in Te Whāriki, and supporting resources, to promote children's learning.

Use knowledge of philosophies, perspectives and contexts of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand, including contemporary Māori and Pasifika education developments and implications for practice, to inform an emerging personal philosophy of practice.

922.541 Professional relationships (30 credits)

Communicate effectively and include cultural protocols, whanaungatanga, and manaakitanga concepts, to develop and maintain inclusive and collaborative relationships with a wide range of people in an early childhood education and care community. Manage personal wellbeing and engage in the personal, professional, ethical and reflective practices required of an early childhood educator. Support children's language, culture and identity, through the application of emerging knowledge of cultural competence, with consideration of diverse families and aspirations for their children's learning.

Do you want to study a single course, without enrolling into the full programme?

Courses within some of our programmes may be offered as an individual Certificate of Proficiency (COP). Programme entry requirements and course fees apply. For more information, please speak to our friendly Ask Me! team.

Careers and pathways

Further training or study

Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Teaching) (Level 7)

Career opportunities

Graduates of this qualification will have the skills and knowledge to work in a range of early childhood contexts, such as centre-based, hospital-based (play specialist assistant), home-based, nanny, parent-led, or culturally-based contexts including Pasifika or Māori. Graduates may provide supervision or guidance of volunteers or other staff, in some early childhood settings.  They may also be involved in voluntary roles in early childhood settings. For potential salaries visit careers.govt.nz.

*This programme does not lead to New Zealand Teacher Certification, to gain this you must have a level 7 teaching qualification.

Free study for the first year of your Level 3 or above qualification may be available under the government’s fees-free study scheme. Visit feesfree.govt.nz for eligibility criteria and more information. Students must be eligible to study as a domestic student. All free study is subject to funding confirmation. Proof of residency status required. Entry criteria, and some costs, may also apply. Eligibility for student allowances or student loans may vary. Contact StudyLink for more information.

Information is correct as at 25 March 2024. Programme fees are based on a full-time student and may vary depending on your final selection of courses that make up your programme. To provide you with an indication of costs, the approximate fees quoted in this publication are based on the indicative 2024 fee structure. The indicative programme fees for 2024 do not include the Compulsory Student Services Fee (CSSF). The CSSF is an additional levy to your 2024 programme or course fees. Further information about the CSSF can be found here www.manukau.ac.nz/cssf. Programmes stated as eligible for free study in 2024 are based on the 2023 fee structure and subject to funding confirmation for 2024. All fees are in New Zealand Dollars. You will be advised of the current fees at the time of enrolment. All courses and programmes will proceed subject to numbers and academic approval. Manukau Institute of Technology is part of Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. Te Pūkenga is accredited under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020. International students must study in class and will not be able to enrol for online study options.