Otago Polytechnic

Certificate in Early Childhood Studies (Level 3)



One year full-time

On campus (360 Cumberland Street, Dunedin) with work placements in early childhood centres

until start date
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    19 February 2018
    2 July 2018 - 20 July 2018
    16 April 2018 - 27 April 2018
    1 October 2018 - 12 October 2018

Working with children is a rewarding, challenging, fun and diverse career. This introductory programme helps you gain the core skills and knowledge to prepare you to undertake the higher level learning required for employment in the early childhood sector. 

A section of this programme is practical and includes work placement in early childhood centres. You will learn through the guidance of a supportive tutor in a practical learning environment.

If you would like to extend your qualification after graduation, you may wish to pathway into further education programmes offered at other New Zealand institutions. Please contact our Career Advisor, Patricia Quensell, to chat about options. Email patriciaq@op.ac.nz or phone 0800 762 786 

Youth Guarantee Scheme: If you are a 16-19 year old and feel that school didn’t work out for you, you may be able to study this programme via our Youth Guarantee Scheme and pay no fees. This also applies if you are going to be 15 years old at the time that this programme starts and you have an early exemption from school. Please note that there are limited Youth Guarantee places available for this programme and therefore funding cannot be guaranteed. 

Please note: This programme name will change to the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)* (subject to final approval) in the future. This is due to a national review of qualifications that is being carried out by NZQA across all New Zealand tertiary institutions.

Career possibilities 
  • Child care support worker; Home-based carer; Nanny; Education Support Worker (ESW).
What will this programme cover?
  • Development and parenthood in early childhood
  • Learning through play
  • Planning for learning
  • Guidance strategies
  • Professional practice, agency experience and field work
  • Health and Safety; First aid
  • Contextualised numeracy and literacy skills for the early childhood sector. 
Further study options 

If you would like to extend your qualification after graduation, you may wish to pathway into further education programmes offered at other New Zealand institutions. Please contact our Career Advisor, Patricia Quensell, to chat about options. Email patriciaq@op.ac.nz or phone 0800 762 786 

Entry requirements
  • Entry is limited to students 17 years and over.
  • We prefer that you have a minimum (or equivalent) of 36 NCEA credits at Level 1, made up of
    • at least 12 credits in English,
    • at least 12 credits in maths, and
    • a minimum of 12 credits in at least one other subject.
  • Applications from mature students (over 20) are welcome.
  • You will be required to complete a Police Record Check.
  • An informal interview will be held prior to acceptance to assess
    • your suitability for working with children in the community
    • any current experience that you have working with children
    • whether you have a friendly outgoing manner and a willingness to learn.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure you are ready for this study.
  • If English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5, with no band score less than 5.5.

If you don’t have the entry requirements above, talk to us about whether you have the equivalent skills and knowledge or to determine if this is the right programme for you. 

Please note: this programme is subject to minimum numbers.

Additional documentation 

You must supply certified copies of proof of identity and proof of residency (where appropriate). 

Additional costs 
  • Textbook and any stationery required 
Youth Guarantee Scheme

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. 
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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