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Early childhood teachers a priority for recruitment drive

Early childhood teachers a priority for recruitment drive too

19 September 2018

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand Chief Executive, Kathy Wolfe today expressed her expectation that the Ministry of Education’s newly launched teacher recruitment drive will include a focus on early childhood teachers.

“We absolutely support this initiative, as there is an urgent need for government to encourage more people into teaching at all levels. We recognise that the campaign has only just been launched, and its initial focus appears to be on school teachers and teachers of te reo Māori. However, we would expect that the campaign will also include early childhood teachers as a priority group. The Ministry knows well that the early childhood education sector is experiencing the same pressures as the compulsory schooling sector, with insufficient numbers of existing teachers and new graduates to meet demand.

“We know from our members that current pay and conditions for early childhood teachers are potential barriers to students undertaking study to enter the profession, and for qualified teachers to remain.

"The rate of attrition for early childhood teachers is approximately four percent annually (around 1200 teachers). With current qualified early childhood teacher levels at 67 percent, we need around 800 new teachers this year just to replace those leaving the profession. This is nearly twice the number of early childhood teacher graduates Tertiary Education Commission figures predict for this year (around 440), meaning we are approximately 360 qualified teachers short of meeting attrition for this year.

"And this does not take into account the volume growth projected by the government in Budget 2018 of 8,656 children in early childhood education, which requires an additional 1,300 teachers.

“Even the Minister of Education's initiative to subsidise Teacher Education Refresh programmes in 2018 – which we support and which has seen more enrolments than usual this year – still won't address attrition, let alone projected volume growth.

“As a result of insufficient teachers numbers, we are hearing more and more frequently about quality concerns and high levels of teacher stress in early childhood education settings. This worries us, especially when there is a flow-on effect to the children at the services. Our youngest tamariki deserve to have the best experiences in the early years of their learning journey.

“If the government is to meet its recently announced commitment to wellbeing for all New Zealanders, which includes access to world-class education, it must take urgent action to bolster its struggling teaching workforce. From our perspective, government must invest in initiatives to grow the early childhood education workforce, in line with those of the compulsory sector.

“While we acknowledge the Ministry’s work currently underway to develop a ten-year strategic plan for the early learning sector and an education workforce strategy, we are concerned that the timing of these strategies will mean there will be little or nothing in Budget 2019 for the early childhood sector. The sector can’t afford to wait another year or more for government to invest in its workforce. As a minimum, the Ministry must include early childhood teachers in its recruitment campaign as a priority group and with urgency,” Ms Wolfe said.


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