Urgent need to address ECE teacher supply
“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.”
“Kindergartens and many education and care services have managed to hang on to 100% qualified teachers but that’s getting harder to do” said Clare Wells. “Attracting people into the teaching profession is one thing, supporting them to stay there is another – and we have to do both” Clare Wells said.
What will make a difference:
- determining that all staff in teaching roles are qualified teachers;
- reinstating and improving funding levels to maintain 100% qualified teachers in services where this is currently the case;
- designing policy and implementing funding to help those working in ECE services to become qualified teachers;
- providing appropriate funding to ensure newly graduated teachers have access to the support they need as beginning teachers;
- increasing pay and improving employment conditions for all qualified ECE teachers and ensuring they are covered by a national collective agreement;
- extending the support offered to teachers in the schools sector to all teachers, to attract and retain staff especially in isolated and rural communities.
“Clearly the initiatives to attract more school teachers is a welcome ‘quick fix’ but there is no such offer to ECE” Clare Wells said. “We’re lagging behind again. We need the government to put a stake in the ground now and implement a coherent workforce policy, ensure top quality teacher education programmes are available, and ensure ECE services have the resources and support they need to attract and retain qualified teachers.”