Preparing for the June 2021 ECE Census

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Census week this year from 21 to 27 June 2021. All early learning services need to submit their ECE Census return to the Ministry by 14 July through their Student Management System (SMS) or ELI Web. This is a mandatory requirement of the Education and Training Act 2020.

The information collected for the ECE Census is crucial for monitoring and policy development for ECE in New Zealand. You can find the published results of the 2020 ECE census on Education Counts.

2020 ECE Census Fact Sheets

Information collected in the ECE Census

Some information collected in the ECE Census (such as child enrolment, staff qualifications and certification information) can be checked by services in their SMS prior to census week and updated if necessary. Other information is more specific to the ECE Census week.

Please check the following prior to census 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 make sure that the following child details are up to date:

  • National Student Numbers – ensure all enrolled children have an NSN
  • Child demographic details –
    • Name, date of birth and gender match official records
    • Gender, ethnicity, iwi, and home language
  • Enrolment – enter enrolment end dates for children who no longer attend your service. Ensure their attendance data is completely up to date before ending the enrolment of the child.

Staff data

Staff and teacher information must be provided for those working during the ECE Census week. This includes educators, coordinators, and relieving staff. Depending on the SMS you use, you may be able to update this information prior to the ECE Census week.

Please ensure the all your staff details are up to date in your SMS.

  • Staff qualifications and certification status (including expiry date) are up to date. This also applies to relieving staff working during the census week.
  • Staff who are no longer working at your service, including relievers, have had their employment end date (resignation date) entered in your SMS.
  • Staff demographics such as ethnicity (up to 3 ethnicities may be recorded for each staff member), date of birth (or age band) and gender have been populated in your SMS.
  • Contact hours – all staff in teaching roles who have child contact hours during the ECE Census week (21 to 27 June 2021), including relievers, must be accounted for.

Please check the following prior to submitting your census data

Service data

During the ECE Census week you will be asked to report on your services:

  • Teaching languages – please ensure these (and the percentages of time each language is used) accurately reflect the languages spoken when instructing and interacting with the children in your service.
  • Wait-listed children numbers – the number of children waiting for a place by age. 

Child attendance data

  • Please ensure the attendance data for all enrolled children is submitted promptly for the census week.

Services not connected to ELI

Casual and hospital-based services and playgroups need to complete and submit their ECE Census digitally. A copy of the digital 2021 ECE Census excel form (RS61) is available for download from the Education Counts website. This link will be emailed prior to the census week to the email address we hold for all these services.

Education Counts website

For common questions and answers about the ECE Census please see the Annual ECE Return of the Questions and Answers page accessible on the ELI homepage.

Questions and Answers Page

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