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Kindergarten teachers to return to State Sector

Kindergarten teachers will be returned to the State Sector Act in a clause which is part of the Employment Relations Bill introduced to Parliament this week.

The clause provides for an amendment to the State Sector Act so that kindergarten teachers are considered part of the state sector.

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said the Government was realising the commitment made when National removed kindergarten teachers from the State Sector Act nearly three years ago.

“As State Services Minister, Jenny Shipley introduced the bill to remove kindergarten teachers from the State Sector Act with no consultation and rushed it through under urgency.

"The prime motivation for doing so was to relieve that Government of having any responsibility for quality early childhood education. The National Government was trying to wriggle out of the shame of refusing to fund the pay increases negotiated by the State Services Commission. By doing so, they removed a very important benchmark for the funding of all early childhood education.

“The previous Government saw early childhood education as a business. We see it as an integral part of the education system and we want to help as many children as possible have access to quality early childhood education.

"Teachers are the key to that quality. By taking responsibility for the terms under which they are employed, the Government is taking leadership for setting benchmarks for standards. We will be making advancements on issues like the provision and co-ordination of professional development.

"The Government owns the majority of kindergartens and there is certainly a public perception that we are a major partner in the kindergarten sector and therefore have a greater responsibility for encouraging quality."

Contact: Moerangi Vercoe (Press Secretary) 04 471 9080 or 025 270 9194

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