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



Six months full-time

On campus with work placements

until start date
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    22 February 2021
  • Dunedin
    21 February 2022
    18 April 2022 - 29 April 2022

Working with children is a rewarding, challenging, fun and diverse career. 

This introductory programme includes 60 hours of work placements and will help you gain the core skills and knowledge needed to participate in the education and care of infants, toddlers and young children in entry-level carer roles in a range of early childhood contexts. 

It will also prepare you to undertake further study and upon successful completion, you may choose to progress into the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4) to expand your career prospects.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements 

  • For applicants under 20 years old, NCEA Level 1 including 10 literacy and 10 numeracy credits OR equivalent is preferred.
  • For applicants over 20 years old, there are no academic entry requirements.

Special entry 

  • In exceptional circumstances, an applicant under the age of 20 who does not meet the academic entry requirements may be granted entry to the programme where they supply evidence of their ability to succeed on the programme. 

Other requirements

  • Learners must be at least 17 years old. 
  • For all applicants, an interview will be held prior to acceptance to assess your suitability for working with children in the community and to ensure Otago Polytechnic meets the legislative requirements of the Children's Act 2014. In accordance with this Act, you will be required to: 
    • complete a New Zealand Police consent to Disclosure of Information form 
    • supply the contact details of two referees who are willing to give a confidential report. Referees must be over 16 and cannot be related to you, be a partner/spouse/friend or live at the same address as you.
    • attend an informal interview to discuss your suitability for working with children in the community. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must provide:
  • If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Please note: This programme is subject to minimum numbers.

Youth Guarantee Scheme information

To be eligible for Youth Guarantee funding, you must:

  • Be a domestic student between 16-19 years old
  • OR be 15 years of age at the time when you commence the programme AND have an early leaving exemption from your school
  • Not already hold a Level 3 qualification in any subject
  • Have been thinking about leaving school and getting a job OR prefer to be working towards a career rather than staying at school OR have left school and are not sure how to enter higher education or employment
  • Want to learn practical skills
  • Be more motivated in a non-school setting and be prepared to enrol in a full-time programme.

Fees and allowances

The Youth Guarantee Scheme will cover tuition fees, material and equipment costs of your programme of study. 18-19 year olds enrolled in fees-free Youth Guarantee qualifications will now be able to access the course-related costs part of the student loan and student allowances if they meet the eligibility criteria. Those under 18 years old will not be able to access any part of the student loans. Funding for travel is available, conditions apply. Please visit the Studylink website for full details. We strongly recommend that you read this carefully prior to applying for this programme.  

The process

  • There is not a separate Youth Guarantee application form. Please apply for this programme by using our standard Otago Polytechnic application form. To apply online, or to download a paper version, click the apply button at the top right hand corner of this page.
  • If you meet the criteria for Youth Guarantee funding you will be offered the funding if it is available. We will ask you to let us know within two weeks if you do not wish to take up the funding.  
  • If there is no Youth Guarantee funding available, we will send you a letter advising you of this. Along with this letter, you will receive an invoice, terms and conditions, a Studylink brochure and an equipment list advising what you will need to purchase before starting your programme. 
Courses and work placements

You will undertake 60 hours of work placements in various early childhood settings. 


1. Child Learning and Development 

Describe your practice as an early childhood educator using the bi-cultural curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, as it applies to the services, contexts, and philosophies of childhood learning and development in Aotearoa New Zealand.

2. Health and Wellbeing in Practice 

Learn how to promote the health and holistic wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and young children whilst managing own health, in compliance with legislation and regulations. 

3. Professional Practice 

Explore the role of an educator within the Early Childhood Education context. 

4. Community Engagement 

Engage in respectful relationships across the Early Childhood Education environment and to acknowledge and promote the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua. 

Student loans and allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful.  


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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