ECE funding lacks focus on quality
New Zealand Kindergartens welcomes the $155.7 million increase in the 2014 budget to support participation in early childhood education, but is disappointed the government hasn’t made a commitment to improving the quality of ECE services.
“The budget reprioritises around $20 million of funding and while we welcome new funding to keep pace with growing participation rates in ECE and to provide some help to services to meet rising costs, we are disappointed that the government hasn’t focused on improving the quality of ECE.” said New Zealand Kindergartens Chief Executive Clare Wells. “Overall we still have some way to go to ensure every child has access to high quality early childhood education.”
“This budget was the opportunity to lift the standards for all ECE (teacher-led) services to support at least 80% of staff have the appropriate teaching qualifications to work with young children as a step towards 100% qualified teaching workforce." said Wells. “Instead, the government has left it at 50%, and that’s not good enough.”
“It was also an opportunity to connect initiatives around professional leadership and special education across ECE and schools," says Wells. "Better connections would improve professional leadership and teaching practice and strengthen transitions for children and families."
The government has acknowledged the importance of ECE to the well-being and educational achievement of all children – and all services must be high quality to realise these outcomes.
New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) Incorporated, Te Putahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa, is the umbrella organisation representing twenty-eight regional kindergarten associations covering over 440 kindergartens and early childhood education services. Nationwide kindergartens provide services for over 35,000 enrolled children as well as support for their families and whānau. We are committed to working with parents, communities and the government to offer high quality services, with 100% qualified teachers, which meet the unique needs of children and whānau.
NZK provides services to all families. Almost two-thirds of kindergartens are in low and middle income areas. After nga kōhanga reo and correspondence school, kindergarten has the highest percentage of Māori children attending (22%), and among Pasifika children, kindergarten has the highest percentage attending alongside education and care services (8%). Almost twenty per cent of early childhood education enrolments in communities with a Ministry of Health deprivation index rating of 10 (the most socio-economically deprived communities) are in kindergartens.