3rd October 2008
For Immediate Release
Flexibility Must Not Compromise Quality In Early Childhood Education
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says any move to provide more flexibility within early childhood education must not come at the expense of quality teaching and terms and conditions of staff.
A Families Commission report "Juggling Acts" on how parents working non standard hours arrange care for their pre-school children, suggests many parents would like there to be more flexibility around the hours they can access childcare services.
NZEI, which represents thousands of early childhood educators, believes accessibility to high quality early childhood education is essential. As the report points out, research shows that high quality ECE can have a long lasting effect on the educational outcomes of children later in life.
"Early childhood services must respond to the needs of the community but what we don't want to see is centres responding to those needs by compromising quality teaching," says NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter.
He says any move to change a centre's operational arrangements would have to be carefully thought out in terms of the impact on staff working conditions, the need for more qualified and registered teachers, and the care and education of children.
"We know there are early childhood operators out there who can unilaterally change the hours and conditions of work for their employees. Quality education cannot be delivered in an environment where staff are stressed and overworked," he says.
NZEI also continues to argue that with the 20 Hours Free policy fuelling demand, there is an urgent need for a planned national network of publicly owned services which young children in all communities can access.