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Early childhood education

Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)

Do you want to foster young children’s love of learning? Study early childhood education and you'll develop the skills and knowledge required to make a difference in the lives of children, their whānau, and society.

360 (3.0 EFTS)
Mt Albert
Start dates
February or July
Full-time for three years

Programme overview

In this practical, field-based programme, you'll develop the skills required to become a competent, informed, and reflective ECE (Early Childhood Education) teacher who's committed to young children and their learning and development.

We believe people learn through participation, so you'll value the experience and insight you’ll gain from actively working in early childhood education centres. There'll also be plenty of opportunities to relate these experiences to theory during campus sessions, though these sessions will only require you to be on campus for 2 days per week, making it manageable for those coming from outside Auckland. Additionally, we can organise placements closer to your place of residence to avoid any unnecessary inconvenience. 

Best of all, when you graduate, you'll be eligible to become a registered teacher in licensed early childhood education centres.


  • Teacher registration: once you've completed this degree, you can apply for teacher registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • We aim for informed and reflective teaching, based on observation and an understanding of how people learn
  • A thorough grounding in educational theory and relevant practice of teaching and learning, child development, relevant te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori, and working with children and their whānau in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Emphasis on teaching practice: you'll be working (paid or voluntary) in a licensed early childhood centre for at least 12 hours per week during the programme
  • Experience teaching in a range of centres: each year you will also take part in a practicum, working full-time in an early childhood education centre for 37.5 hours per week
  • A strong emphasis on the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum document, Te Whāriki, and a bicultural and sociocultural approach to learning
  • Acknowledgement of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which prepares you to implement te reo Māori me ona tikanga in your teaching practice
  • A focus on research: you'll develop an understanding of research methodologies with a particular emphasis on action research (self-study) in an early childhood setting

Work Experience

You'll need to complete at least 12 hours (paid or voluntary) work experience per week during term time. If you're not currently employed, we can help you locate an appropriate centre, which can be located close to your home. 


Year One: You'll need to complete one 2-week practicum in your first term at the centre where you are, or will be, completing work experience. You will also complete one four-week practicum at the end of the year at another centre, chosen by Unitec in accordance with Teaching Council requirements. This can be at a centre close to your home. 

Years Two and Three: You will complete one five-week practicum per year at two other centres, also chosen by Unitec in accordance with Teaching Council requirements. Again, this can be at a centre close to your home. 

TeachNZ Early Childhood Education Scholarships

The government supports equity in education. There are a range of TeachNZ scholarships available that you may be eligible for. 

If you want to become an early childhood education teacher and you're passionate about Māori or Pasifika cultures, a TeachNZ ECE Scholarship may be able to support you.

Applications for the second round for the 2020 programme will close on 24th January 2020.

Admission requirements

Academic requirements

For this programme, you will need the following:

If you are at least 20 years old

  1. Be able to work for a minimum of 12 hours per week for the duration of the programme in a licensed early childhood centre
  2. Complete a self-declaration of criminal convictions and medical conditions form
  3. Consent to a Safety Check which meets the requirements of the Children Act 2014 (formerly known as the Vulnerable Children's Act) and will be shared with a host institution as part of your practicum placement. This includes:
    • Provide two forms of verified ID and evidence of any name changes
    • Consent to a police vet check
    • Provide the names of two referees who Unitec or your placement provider can contact
    • Pass a mandatory interview process which includes a group and individual interview plus a short numeracy and literacy test
    • If required, provide a Curriculum Vitae (CV) detailing a chronological summary of your work history for the past 5 years and the name of any professional organisations, licensing authorities and registration authorities that you have been or are a member of

Please note: If you're 20 or over, you don't need to meet any NCEA credits (or equivalent), however there is a short numeracy and literacy test during your interview process.

If you are under 20 years old

In addition to the above requirements for students who are at least 20 years old, you will need the following: 

  1. Be at least 17 years old by the time the programme begins;
  2. University Entrance which requires NCEA Level 3 including:
    • 14 credits at NCEA Level 3 in three different approved subjects;
    • 10 credits at NCEA Level 2 or higher in English or Maori (5 in reading, 5 in writing);
    • 10 credits at NCEA Level 1 or higher in Mathematics or Pangarau;

If you don’t meet the academic criteria above, we have a range of Bridging Education programmes which will help you prepare for further academic study.

English requirements

If English is not your first language you will also need one or more of the following:

  1. University Entrance literacy - 10 credits at NCEA Level 2 or higher in English or Maori (5 in reading, 5 in writing), or;
  2. Evidence of achieving an overall IELTS (Academic) band score of no less than 7.0 in each band of the test. For additional requirements, please see the Education Council website.

If you don’t meet the English criteria above, we also have a range of English Language programmes available, depending on your current level of ability.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still apply under special or discretionary entrance.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Introduction to Practicum (EDUC5519) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To demonstrate beginning teaching practice in a practicum setting
Te Kete Manaaki Tangata (EDUC5905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To assist students to develop understandings of Maori values and tikanga through deepening understandings of Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga.
Contexts of Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa/ New Zealand (EDUC5911) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To examine the social, cultural and ecological contexts of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, including the bicultural nature of Early Childhood Education and the diversity of early childhood services.
Partnership and Professionalism (EDUC5912) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To encourage the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for early childhood educators to work in professional partnership with whanau and community.
Human Development (EDUC5913) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To describe and analyse theories of development, in order to gain an understanding of human development across the lifespan and its applications to practice in community health or early childhood contexts.
Academic Literacy for Tertiary Studies (EDUC5914) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To explore a range of academic study, research, referencing and writing skills and tools in order to provide a foundation for research and study.
Introduction to Curriculum and Te Whariki (EDUC5915) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to examine curriculum, observation, planning and assessment in Early Childhood Education including the relationship between play and learning for young children.
Introduction to Work Experience (EDUC5919) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To introduce the practice of teaching, with an emphasis on developing responsive and reciprocal relationships, through engagement in a work experience setting
Courses Credits Aim
Informed Practicum (EDUC6529) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To demonstrate teaching and professional practices that recognise and respond to the integrated nature of young children’s learning on a teaching practicum
Te Kete Manaaki Whenua (EDUC6905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To further develop Te Reo Maori language skills, advance knowledge of Tikanga Maori, and develop students understandings of Manaaki Whenua and its application in teaching practice.
Historical and Current Contexts of Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa/ New Zealand (EDUC6921) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To critically examine the history and current social and political status of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand and its impact upon centres especially in the Pasifika community.
The Ethical Teacher (EDUC6922) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To assist students to extend their knowledge and skills in professional communication and respond to ethical dilemmas in an early childhood setting
Infants and Toddlers (EDUC6923) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To assist students to examine and analyse a range of theories and philosophies on the care, learning and development of infants and toddlers
Curriculum Content Pedagogy (EDUC6924) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to critically examine theories and practices relating to curriculum content knowledge and pedagogy in early childhood education.
Research and Research Design in Early Childhood Education (EDUC6927) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To critically assesses the quality of research underpinned by a variety of research methodologies, with a particular focus upon action research.
Informed Work Experience (EDUC6929) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) Examine and apply current approaches in Early Childhood Education assessment, planning and evaluation through participation in a work experience setting.
Courses Credits Aim
Action Research Project (Self- Study) (EDUC7537) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To facilitate the implementation and reporting of an action research project in the context of an early childhood centre.
Advanced Practicum (EDUC7539) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To consolidate and refine teaching practice, demonstrating practice informed by theory and leadership capabilities, in a practicum placement.
Te Kete Manaki Taonga (EDUC7905) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to synthesise Te Reo Maori me ona tikanga in their teaching praxis, and articulate their understandings of manaaki taonga and its application in teaching practice.
Policy and Discourse in Context: The Early Childhood Education (EDUC7931) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To critically examine social and educational policy, and contemporary discourses and issues relevant to early childhood education.
Personal Pedagogy and Leadership (EDUC7932) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) The course facilitates the development and justification of student?s personal early childhood pedagogical philosophy and to critically analyse ethical, professional and leadership issues guiding their practice.
Diverse Learners (EDUC7933) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To critically examine the theory and practices that support a diverse range of learners in early childhood education settings
Advanced Curriculum and Pedagogical Documentation (EDUC7935) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to critically analyse and consolidate understanding of a range of curriculum issues and discourses.
Advanced Work Experience (EDUC7939) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) Engage effectively and critically in a range of professional practice and leadership strategies with the work experience setting.