Early childhood education makes a difference for a lifetime and New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) commends the Government for developing a 10-year strategic plan to ensure high quality early childhood education provision.
The Board of NZK has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer. Jill Bond has enjoyed a significant public sector career having held senior leadership roles in Housing, Education and Health. Most recently Jill was the Executive Director of the Office of the Director General of Health and had responsibility for the delivery of the refresh of the NZ Health Strategy.
In appointing Jill to the position James Patea, President of NZK said the Board was delighted that Jill had accepted the position and they looked forward to working with her to deliver on the government’s early childhood education agenda. “What happens in early childhood makes a difference of a lifetime and having a passionate and committed person leading NZK is critical for 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.
“Ensuring every child experiences high quality early childhood education (ECE) is a priority” said NZ Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells.
“One in five children engaged in education today will be attending an ECE service – almost 200,000 young children. We have a responsibility to ensure that experience benefits children’s well-being and learning regardless of the service they attend.”
“Placing the well-being of children, families and whānau centre-stage of the government’s budget is to be applauded” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive NZ Kindergartens. “Shifting the focus to investing in families in long overdue. We need to do better by children and the government has made its intentions clear” said Clare Wells.
“The pressures on families and implications for young children of limited household income and poor housing are undeniable.” The budget provided $590.2 million to the early childhood education (ECE) sector. “One in five children in the education system today attends an ECE service – around 95% of children under five years old” Clare Wells said.”The government recognises that services have a critical role to play in the lives of young children.”
“It’s our time get early childhood education (ECE) back on track, focusing on what’s best for every child and their whānau engaged in an ECE service” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive NZ Kindergartens. “The government’s focus on ensuring the provision of high quality early childhood education is to be applauded.”
“It is heartening to see the government backing research on the importance of the first few years in a child’s life” Clare Wells said. “Cleary, the government wants to make sure where children are in ECE services independent of their caregivers and parents, they benefit from high quality teaching and learning.”
“The release of the latest Childcare Survey is timely” said Clare Wells, Chief Executive NZ Kindergartens. The survey shows just under 300,000 children have formal childcare arrangements, attending services each day. Half of those children attend because of parents’ work commitments.
“The survey shows 64% of children aged four or younger attend an early childhood education (ECE) service – that’s around 200,000 children” Clare Wells said.