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Montessori Assn Supports Early Childhood Plan

Montessori Association Supports Early Childhood Plan

November 2, 2001

The Montessori Association of New Zealand (MANZ) has welcomed the release this week of the Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Education from the Government Working Group.

“Our organisation is heartened by the direction of the strategic plan to provide greater accessibility for Early Childhood Education (ECE), sustainable funding of centres, support to improve the quality of ECE in Aotearoa New Zealand and the focus on meeting the needs of the child,” MANZ President David Stott said today.

Mr Stott did, however, express some concerns on behalf of Montessori centres. “Private centres make up 65 percent of our membership and provide more than a third of the total ECE provision nationwide. The Strategic Plan suggests that Government wishes to take an increased role in ownership and provision of ECE, and provide itself with powers to establish and close centres.

“We would be dismayed if these powers were used to close existing centres on a political or other basis not related to quality. There are adequate safeguards in the proposed revamp of ERO reviews, centre self-review processes and Ministry of Education compliance procedures to address issues of quality, meeting of community needs and financial accountability. We do not need further Government involvement in the running of successful centres.

“While we agree with the general thrust to upgrade qualifications of ECE staff, we believe that the strategy proposed in the plan is flawed and is unsustainable in the timeframe suggested. It seems that little thought has been given to the logistics of upgrading the qualifications of existing teachers, nor to the support infrastructure that will have to be in place to achieve the proposed targets.”

Mr Stott said that the capacity to deliver upgraded qualification provision was also compromised by the current Government’s moratorium on the establishment of new teacher training courses.

“We support a simplified funding formula, but we have some concerns about the silence of the report with regard to the future funding of private centres,” he said. “Since this Government has been in power, targeted funding has been introduced that is not available to private centres. We strongly believe that funding should be based on the financial needs of the community, parents and whanau regardless of the organisational structure of the ECE centre.”

He said MANZ hoped that the proposed funding formulas adopted under the strategic plan would consider all types of centres equitably.

“We trust that when the Ministry of Education implements the proposals in the plan, it will work closely with the ECE service to meet the many desirable outcomes identified in the report.

“MANZ is excited about many of the suggested changes in ECE delivery and providing our initial reservations do not arise, we look forward to working with Government and the service to implement quality early childhood education that meets the needs of the children in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Mr Stott said.

ENDS


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