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National Survey on State of Early Childhood Education Begins

National Survey on State of Early Childhood Education Begins
Monday, 5 November 2012

Press Release: ChildForum Early Childhood Network

The New Zealand early childhood network, ChildForum, is conducting a national survey on young children’s care and education in New Zealand and the current state of the early childhood sector.

The survey is the only research independent of the Government and its Ministries of Education and Social Development and the financial and political interests of individual groups within the sector.

It canvasses the views of different providers of early childhood care and education and people from across the sector, says ChildForum’s chief executive Dr Sarah Farquhar.

“The survey provides an opportunity to indicate what is best for young children’s care and education and convey what is going well or not going well on the ground in the sector.

“The survey results may even have an influence on future policy development.”

Dr Farquhar says the turmoil the early childhood and care sector has faced over the last few years with reductions in funding for the employment of qualified teachers and other decisions such as increasing the proxy for class size allowing centre operators to have up to 150 children per licence, may be nothing compared to what may be seen soon.

The Government has so far set a path that is focused on numbers - on strategies to get more children in early childcare and on establishing control of the burgeoning costs of supply of this childcare and education - rather than on quality of experience for children and families, and being supportive of a well-functioning cohesive early childhood sector.

Already as a result of the Government’s ECE Taskforce Group report we have seen the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust going to the Waitangi Tribunal and Playcentre people staging major protests to get some assurance on the safety of their funding. With several reviews of funding, standards, and the home-based sector either under way or recently completed many more changes for groups within the sector, and potential stress for teachers, families and children are in the wind.

Last year’s survey, also conducted by ChildForum, revealed six key issues occupying the minds of people in the ECE sector and how they thought Government should respond.
The six issues were:
• concerns about funding levels and reliability of funding
• maintaining teacher morale (optimism and confidence) in the face of policy and funding changes
• the financial affordability of early childcare and education for families
• maintaining full rolls and child attendance
• services and teaching adults being able to give children what they valued as a high standard of education, and
• a high standard of care for children.
This year’s survey seeks to find out if anything has changed, identify what issues may be concerning the sector now, and what might be expected to improve or worsen.
The survey closes on 30th November and the results will be published on the Network’s ChildForum website

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