The years of discovery…
What happens in early childhood, matters for a lifetime
“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” – Fredrick Froebel, founder of kindergarten
Children are innovators, problem solvers, communicators and leaders. At kindergarten, they learn about science, mathematics, technology, language and literacy, music and art. Teachers create learning environments where children are valued, happy and safe, where their identity and culture is celebrated, and where children can explore and learn about the world around them, developing skills and growing knowledge and understanding. Together with families and whānau, qualified teachers extend and progress children’s learning, supporting every child to be competent and confident in their world.
Kia ora, talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, fakaalofa lahi atu, kia orana, fakatalofa atu, malo ni, mauri – welcome to kindergarten.
“This is our moment to get it right for young children and reset government policy in the interests of high quality teaching and learning” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive NZ Kindergartens. “The government’s determination to ensure the provision of high quality early childhood education (ECE) unique to Aotearoa, is to be applauded.”
The Minister of Education released the draft ECE strategic plan today which sets out a series of recommendations to lift the quality of ECE services through improved adult:child ratios and a requirement for 100% qualified and well-supported teaching workforce, to improve the planning of new services and strengthen monitoring of all services, and to increase investment in community-based, public ECE.
“Teacher shortages aren’t limited to schools” said NZ Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells. “There is also an urgent need to address the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers in early childhood education (ECE).”
“We are seeing the result of government changes over the past decade and shifting targets and timeframes to achieve a fully qualified ECE teaching workforce” said Clare Wells. Sixteen years ago, the Labour government set in place targets for 100% qualified teachers in teacher-led, centre-based services. In 2010, the National government slashed the target to 80% along with the funding. “Years of uncertainty for people looking to take up a teaching career, and for employers and training providers, is taking its toll. We have to turn that around.”
“The announcement that four kindergartens in the South Island may close is a direct result of years of under-funding and inadequate policy settings” said NZ Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells. “Although early childhood education (ECE) services received 1.6% funding increase in the government’s budget this year, the funding rate is lower than it was in 2008 and remains woefully inadequate.”
This week Kidsfirst Kindergartens – a community-based, not-for profit organisation – announced the proposed closure of four kindergartens. This includes two kindergartens in Christchurch, one in north Kaiapoi and another in Franz Josef – the only early childhood centre in South Westland. It is also looking to disestablish a number of support staff jobs in kindergartens and to charge parent’s fees.