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Preschoolers Matter too Minister

Preschoolers Matter too Minister

Minister Mallard has seen sense and agreed to cease closing schools, he should now act quickly to remove the threat of closure from preschools as well.

Latest Ministry of Education statistics indicate that shortages of trained early childhood teachers could close over 350 early childhood centres nationwide on 1 January 2005 when the government's new staffing policy takes effect. In the Auckland region alone over 7000 families would be forced to find alternative education and care arrangements for their preschoolers.

More than 1300 currently recognised experienced teachers working in the sector will lose their positions of responsibility on 1 January 2005. The sector has already lost hundreds of experienced staff who since the qualifications changes were announced in 2000 have chosen to move on to another career rather than retrain. Other government policy changes affecting early childhood teacher supply including a moratorium on new teacher training courses, a simultaneous moratorium on private training providers, and pay parity for kindergarten teachers have contributed to the supply of trained early childhood teachers falling well short of demand.

ECC CEO Sue Thorne said the chronic staff shortages are the direct result of a deliberate policy to drive experienced teachers out of the education and care sector.

"The blame for the massive closures can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Minister and his advisors from the primary teachers' union" Mrs Thorne said. "Our sector is furious about the unnecessary stress centre staff, managers and ultimately families have been placed under as a result of this ill conceived policy."

Now that Minister Mallard has conceded that his school closure policy is flawed and has stopped closing schools he should also reverse his flawed decision to force experienced staff out of the early childhood sector. In future the Minister would be well advised to leave the setting of training standards to the sector, rather than taking poor advice and meddling in an area well outside his area of expertise.

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