Preparing for the June 2018 Annual ECE Return (Census)

The Annual Early Childhood Education (ECE) Return Week this year is 18 to 24 June 2018. All early learning services need to submit their ECE Return (Census) by 11 July 2018.The information is crucial for monitoring and policy development of ECE in New Zealand. Please remember to submit a fully completed and accurate ECE Return by the due date. Your funding may be withheld if we do not receive your submission on time.

Services connected to ELI Early learning services connected to the Early Learning Information (ELI) System need to submit an electronic ECE Return through your student management system (SMS) or ELI Web.

Services not connected to ELI In the past, early learning services that are not eligible to connect to ELI, or are currently exempt from connecting to ELI needed to submit paper returns, referred to as the RS61 Annual Return.

We have listened to your feedback and improved this process by making the returns available for download online, which makes it easier for you to complete and submit. From this year, early learning services not connected to ELI can complete and submit their ECE Returns electronically, instead of filling out paper forms and then posting them.

Your information privacy is important to us. There are instructions provided on the ‘Instruction’ tab in the 2018 RS61 ECE Return spreadsheet. Following the steps in the instructions will ensure that the data that is submitted is sent to us securely.

The 2018 RS61 ECE Return will be available for download from the Education Counts website in due course. We will also send a link to the affected services by 4 June 2018. Please ensure the Ministry has your correct email address.

If you prefer using paper RS61 ECE Returns, we can post the forms to you. You can request a paper copy by emailing us at:

For common questions and answers about the ECE Return please see the questions and answers page at: The Annual ECE Return.

For further queries please contact the Ministry at: or call (04) 439 5390.

Information collected in the ECE Return

Some information collected in the Annual ECE Return (such as child enrolments, attendance, staff qualification and certification information) can be checked by services in their SMS systems now and updated if necessary. Other information is specific to the ECE Return week.

Child data

For early learning services connected to ELI, child data (e.g. enrolments and attendance) are sent regularly to the Ministry from your SMS or ELI Web.

Please ensure that the following child details are up-to-date:

  • National student number – ensure all enrolled children have national student numbers
  • Child details:
    • Name, date of birth and gender match official records
    • Ethnicity, iwi and home language
    • Home address – this is the primary residential address (not a PO Box)
  • Enrolment – provide end dates for children no longer attending your service
  • Attendance and absence records.

Staff data

Staff and teacher information must be provided for those working during the ECE Return Week. This includes educators, coordinators and relieving staff. Depending on which SMS you use, this information can be updated prior to the ECE Return Week.

Please ensure the following staff details are up-to-date:

  • Qualifications – check staff and teachers’ highest qualifications
  • Certification – check staff and teachers’ certification status
  • Ethnicity and gender – up to 3 ethnicities may be recorded for each staff member
  • Contact hours are amended – all staff in teaching roles who had child contact hours during the ECE Return period (18 to 24 June), including relievers, must be accounted for.

Service data

During the ECE Return Week you will be asked to report on your service’s:

  • Teaching languages – the teaching languages spoken and the percentage of time the language is used
  • Wait-listed children numbers – number of children waiting for a place.