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Point-scoring against private enterprise

Research ‘point-scoring’ against private enterprise

Privately run preschool centres have been unfairly treated in a research paper released yesterday, says Business NZ.

A report* by the NZ Council for Educational Research suggests non-profit preschool centres are of higher quality than privately owned for-profit centres, because non-profit centres have higher ratios of 'teacher qualified' staff.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw said the use of the ratio was misleading.

“Many centres with high ratios of ‘teacher qualified’ staff, like kindergartens, offer only short sessions, while in most full-day centres, children will spend as much time, if not more, across the day in contact with qualified teachers.

“The ratio simply shows that privately-owned centres have more general staff to support those qualified teachers. In fact, for-profit centres have an average of 20 children per 'teacher qualified' staff member, while kindergartens have an average of 28 children per ‘teacher qualified’ staff member.

“The research seems to ignore the fact that it is the quality of outcomes that matters – not whether a centre is for-profit or not-for-profit.

“Parents are voting with their feet. The only part of the sector to show growth in 2001 was the for-profit sector. All others, including the kindergarten sector with a high 'teacher qualified' staffing ratio, declined.

“As long as we have robust regulation and quality assurance of all early childhood education centres, including reviews by ERO, then it is parents who are the best judge of 'quality' early childhood education.

“Narrowly focused research of this kind should not be used to try and score points against private sector enterprise.”

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