Easier access to learning support - but will it be?
“Improving the way children and families access learning support is a welcome move,” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK). “Channelling that support through communities of learning as they are currently established however, will mean most of our youngest children will miss out. ”
In 2016, the ministry advised it would be taking a new approach to support children with additional learning needs including more funding being made available at an earlier age.
“One in ten children attending ECE receives some form of ‘special education’ support - these children all go on to school. That’s 20,000 children and their families for whom earlier intervention and support could make all the difference in the world,” said Clare Wells. “However, expecting to provide access to that support through Kāhui Ako when only 4% of ECE services are involved in those communities simply won’t work.” Clare Wells said.
“Two things need to happen: we need the ministry to step up and facilitate ECE services me ngā kohanga reo genuine participation in Kāhui Ako including funding to support teachers to participate; and we need the ministry to start work immediately with the sector to find ways learning support will be provided to children whose ECE service or school are not in a Kāhui Ako.” Clare Wells said.
“To maximise the benefit, it is time for the government to require all staff in ECE centres to be fully qualified and registered teachers, be well supported by experts and have access to effective professional development.”
"It is critical that the resources are tagged to providing quality services for young children who need learning support, along with expert advice and support for parents and whānau and the ECE services children attend. These are the conditions within which all young children will thrive and experience success as learners," Clare Wells said.