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New School Sites To Include Early Childhood

New School Sites To Include Early Childhood Provision


New school sites will in future include provision for early childhood centres, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

Trevor Mallard said he had instructed the Ministry of Education that when looking for land for new schools, they were to ensure it was large enough to include an early childhood centre.

Speaking to kindergarten presidents and managers in Wellington today, Trevor Mallard said the change in policy was one which the kindergarten movement had lobbied particularly hard on.

Securing a site had been identified as one of the major barriers to establish the new Glendowie Kindergarten which opened in Auckland today.

"It is my pleasure to tell you today that the lobbying has been successful and it is now policy that when the Ministry is looking for sites for new schools, there is enough land for an early childhood centre.

"The type of ECE centre will be a matter for consultation involving the community and the Ministry. The Ministry will assist by providing information like demographic projections. I expect that many of these arrangements will involve kindergartens.

"For existing schools, we will be supportive of early childhood centres attached to schools as land and buildings are available and not needed for roll growth.

"I hope that by looking at early childhood provision before a school site is even bought will ease the establishment of early childhood centres and will help the Government meet one of our objectives to increase participation in early childhood education.

"This Government sees early childhood education as an important part of the education system. We are really keen to see better links between early childhood education and the compulsory sector and I will certainly look favourably at initiatives that work towards this goal," Trevor Mallard said.


Hon Trevor Mallard Speech Notes

Kindergarten Presidents and Managers

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

It's particularly nice to be here to help you mark Kindergarten Awareness Week.

I went to Naenae kindergarten as part of my Friday electorate visits. Many of the parents were there this morning. They certainly emphasised to me how important the kindergarten is to their families.

I've noticed a few newspaper clippings from around the country to mark Kindergarten Awareness Week.

The themes that I've picked up are:

 The focus on quality education that kindergartens work hard at;
 The push to involve communities and schools in kindergartens;
 Attempts to recruit more Maori and Pacific families to be involved in the kindergarten experience.

These are all themes that the Government is also interested in.

Some of you may know that a couple of weeks ago I announced that we are extending Maori and Pacific TeachNZ scholarships to the early childhood sector. There will be more than 100 scholarships available each year to support students to undertake study to become registered early childhood teachers.

Trained and qualified Maori and Pacific early childhood teachers will be vital to achieve our goal to increase Maori and Pacific participation in quality early childhood education.

I think that any attempts to recruit Maori and Pacific families into the kindergarten movement would be enhanced by the availability of more Maori and Pacific teachers.

Your focus on building better links with the community and schools is an another area that I am personally interested in.

This Government sees early childhood education as an important part of the education system. We are really keen to see better links between early childhood education and the compulsory sector and I will certainly look favourably at initiatives that work towards this goal.

I noticed in a newspaper clipping earlier this week that talked about the opening of Glendowie Kindergarten in Auckland today and what a struggle that has been for some communities. One of the issues raised was getting a site secured.

It mentioned that the kindergarten movement has been lobbying me to have land set aside for early childhood centres when property is earmarked for schools.

It is my pleasure to tell you today that the lobbying has been successful and it is now policy that when the Ministry is looking for sites for new schools, there is enough land for an early childhood centre.

The type of ECE centre will be a matter for consultation involving the community and the Ministry. The Ministry will assist by providing information like demographic projections. I expect that many of these arrangements will involve kindergartens.

For existing schools, we will be supportive of early childhood centres attached to schools as long as there is available space or buildings which will not be needed for roll growth at the school. The amount of surplus space at schools is discounted for ECE occupation.

I hope that by looking at early childhood provision before a school site is even bought will ease the establishment of early childhood centres and will help the Government meet one of our objectives to increase participation in early childhood education.

You might be aware that improving the quality in early childhood education is another of our chief aims.

One of the keys to that, in our view, is making sure that children are taught by qualified staff.

Currently only kindergartens are required to employ fully trained staff. But I am working with the rest of the early childhood sector to ensure that by 2005, all persons responsible in early childhood centres and co-ordinators in home-based care networks hold the Diploma of Teaching (ECE) or an equivalent qualification.

We've also got work in progress on an equity funding system for the early childhood sector. A working group made up of sector representatives is to report to me in November so that we can have something in place for July 2001.
I've also established a Strategic Plan working group. It is made up of around 30 representatives and stakeholders in the early childhood sector and will report to me by August next year after quite a heavy consultation process. The Strategic Plan is to guide the sector and policy development in early childhood education for the next 10 years.

The Government recognises the importance of early childhood education in giving New Zealand children a good start in life. We are committed to ensuring that all New Zealand children have access to quality early childhood education. I look forward to being guided in that goal by the sector through this strategic plan.

In doing so, we do have to work within some quite tight fiscal constraints. We are determined to be more than a one term Government. Showing that we are fiscally responsible is crucial to that.

Within education, objectives for the sector are long-term. In particular, our focus on closing the gaps between Maori and Pacific communities and other New Zealanders is something that realistically will take a generation. We can’t afford to sacrifice those long-term aims for the sake of a one term spending spree.

I'd like to end by paying tribute to the kindergarten movement.

It was founded to address the needs of children that today we would refer to as ‘at risk’. Today’s kindergartens cater for a wide range of children from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. I think you manage to cope with that wide variety of children really well.

Successive governments have had close relationships with kindergartens. I look forward to that continuing.

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