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Government ignores impending childcare disaster

Media Release

Date: 15th August 2019

Government ignores impending childcare disaster

The latest response by the Ministry of Education to an Official Information Act request confirms nothing is being done to relieve the pressure childcare centres are under as a result of the current teacher shortage.

“The Ministry are sitting on their hands” according to ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

Mr Reynolds made the request following Minister of Education Chris Hipkins’ statement in response to a question regarding the lack of action over the teacher shortage in childcare. Hipkins commented that the “Ministry are working on it”.

This led to the OIA request for details of exactly what the Ministry are doing.

The response received details two initiatives to recruit new teachers, which means the sector won’t see the benefit of that activity for several years. One initiative involves teachers needing to complete a refresher course, with a completion time of around 12 months. The second initiative, a targeted marketing campaign, includes attracting students into teaching, which could take three or four years to deliver a result.

Data previously released by the Ministry shows that the number of student ECE teachers remains beneath the number of current vacancies in the sector.

For some time the Ministry refused to accept there was a teacher shortage in childcare at all. Then, after their colleagues at Immigration New Zealand, acknowledged the shortage by placing ECE teachers back on the Skills Shortage List, the Ministry of Education finally acknowledged there is a shortage after all.

“The Ministry are failing in their duty to the hundreds of thousands of pre-school-aged children and the thousands of parents engaged in our sector. The Ministry are responsible for the environment in which early childhood education services in New Zealand operate. They are also singularly the biggest threat to ECE services at present,” said Mr Reynolds

“While childcare services struggle with the teacher shortage and are offered no relief from the Minister or Ministry, the latter persists in beating the sector up with ever-increasing compliance visits.”

We see daily evidence of ECE services struggling under the pressure.

Two initiatives to grow teacher numbers in future years does not provide relief today.

The Ministry also refers to their Education Workforce Strategy initiative, but fails to acknowledge that this is a longer-term initiative, offering little solace to those struggling right now. Nor does the Ministry comment on the fact that their two top officials leading this work have resigned, leaving these longer-term plans up in the air.

Attached: OIA response, Ministry of Education, dated 7th August 2019
Peter_Reynolds_OIA_1199216.pdf
R__46_1192898__BN__Hipkins_Redacted.pdf

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