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Qualified teacher numbers receive a boost

Qualified teacher numbers receive a boost

The graduation of more than 100 early childhood teachers this month from New Zealand Tertiary College will help address a shortage of qualified staff in the sector which threatens to force some centres to close next year.

As many as 25 per cent of early childhood education and care centres in Auckland are currently not able to meet new qualification requirements imposed by Government which come into effect early next year, according to Sue Thorne Early Childhood Council CEO.

"These centres will be given a three month provisional licence and unless they can then meet the new requirements will be forced to close," she says.

"This will have a huge impact not only on working parents who rely on early childhood services but also on the economy. Any closures will cause these families and the centre owners themselves considerable stress. The policy changes mean that experienced teachers have been told to go back to square one and upgrade their qualifications. This has been seen as too daunting for many who are already juggling work and family responsibilities and they have left the sector. Those who wish to retrain need flexible training delivery options such as that offered by organizations like NZTC."

Many NZTC graduates study through distance learning which enables them to gain their early childhood teaching qualifications from anywhere in New Zealand. This is an extremely popular option which makes study possible for many who would otherwise find it impossible for a variety of reasons including the area in which they live or family and employment commitments.

Findings from national and international research into the link between staff qualifications and the quality of education delivered in the early childhood area has never been more compelling, according to NZTC general manager, Selena Fox. "Teachers with specialist knowledge in child care, education and development, make a significant difference in the lives of young children. Some 99 per cent of our graduates have been employed consistently over the past 23 years," she said at the college¹s recent graduation ceremony attended by National¹s Spokesperson on Education, Bill English.

Flexible training options were a vital aspect in the success of NZTC graduate, Cushla Trainer, who received the Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood) Most Outstanding Student award. Cushla received an Early Childhood Teachers Certificate in 1993 and worked full time in a centre for three years before going on her OE. Five years later she returned home and chose field based study to obtain her Diploma in Early Childhood Education. This enabled the Auckland based early childhood teacher to work fulltime while completing her studies.

"The field based option meant that I was able to put the new knowledge that I gained into practice every day and it also gave me face to face contact with other teachers and college tutors every week."

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