ECE Taskforce Report Released
TASKFORCE PROPOSES RADICAL SHIFT IN FUNDING
The report from the Early Childhood Education Taskforce receives a cautious welcome from New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) .
“The report’s strong advocacy for high quality ECE services is welcome” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive of NZ Kindergartens. “It backs up the considerable research evidence available on the benefits of high quality ECE for children, families and whanau, and for society in the long term.”
“We support efforts to increase participation, particularly for Maori and Pasifika children and those in low income families.” says Clare Wells. “Maintaining universal funding to services will be important. We know the benefits of high quality ECE extend all the way up the income ladder and for all socio-economic groups.”
The report proposes a new funding mechanism is established and parents share the costs of ECE where they can. “The funding rate is not stated in the report but it is critical. There is a potential for significant costs to be transferred to families” says Clare Wells. “Parents and communities already meet around half the costs of ECE in fees and donations as well as through fund-raising, grants and in volunteer time. Further pressure on household budgets will inevitably mean some children will miss out.”
The report recommends kindergarten associations negotiate salaries directly with teachers. “The government has been negotiating and meeting the cost of kindergarten teacher’s salaries for over 50 years – apart from a short time in the 1990s.” said Clare Wells. “Kindergarten teachers are part of the teaching profession and have pay parity with teachers in the schools sector. Associations are dependent on government funding to meet the costs of teachers salaries and any changes in funding would put pay parity in jeopardy.”
“The Taskforce emphasizes the need for high quality and professional ECE services, that engage with parents, work across all communities, and offer a range of services to meet families needs. All are hallmarks of kindergartens in our NZK network” says Clare Wells.
The report proposes a new performance measure for the sector. “We agree parents need to have good information about ECE and the learning outcomes for children.” Clare Wells says. “However, we would be concerned if the mechanism used is a version of the national standards operating in schools.”
“There are many welcome recommendations in the report which we would endorse. We are particularly pleased to see the Taskforce recommend incentives be put in place for services to employ 100% qualified teachers, for a focus on services for under-two year olds, for better support for special education, the examination of the quality of teacher education programmes, and the proposal for new services to be funded if they meet the needs of priority groups.” said Clare Wells.
The Taskforce recommends wide consultation with the sector. “We look forward to engaging in consultation on the report over the coming months and working through the detail of the report’s recommendations.” said Clare Wells.
“Our interest now is to ensure that ECE is high quality, affordable, and accessible to all children and their families, and that the needs of children remain centre-stage of ECE policy development.” Clare Wells said.
For more information, please contact:
Clare Wells Tel: 04 495 3744 Chief Executive Mob: 0272 955 044 New Zealand Kindergarten Inc