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Government consults on early childhood education

8 June 2004

Government consults on early childhood education

The government is taking further steps to deliver high quality, affordable and accessible early childhood education for every child in the country, through a public consultation process on proposed new policy, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"Over the next six weeks early childhood education services and communities will be consulted about the best way to deliver the key quality improvements contained in the 10-year early childhood education strategy, Pathways to the Future: Ngä Huarahi Arataki," Trevor Mallard said.

"This government is taking ground breaking action in early childhood education, because research tells us that if kids receive quality early childhood education, it makes a significant difference to how they do later on.

"Budget 2004 announced a new funding system, and additional support for early childhood education through the biggest injection of new spending seen in decades - equivalent to $365 million over the next four years.

"Both community-based and private centres will benefit significantly from this funding as we focus on driving up the quality of early childhood education, and making it more affordable and accessible for families.

"Of the new funding, a $307 million package will support the new funding system. Close to half of this will go directly to private centres, while the rest will fund the introduction of 20 hours free early childhood education a week for three and four-year-olds at community-based centres from 2007.

"We’ve got the money there and we know that it will be spent on lifting teacher quality, improving adult to child ratios and other quality standards. But we’re now turning to the sector to tie down the detail so we can be sure we are getting the best quality improvements that work effectively for every child."

The consultation will seek feedback on matters such as: What the improved adult:child ratios will be. How teacher registration targets will be regulated. Progressively improving adult: child ratios and reducing group size. Legislating Te Whäriki as the curriculum for all early childhood education services.

"The consultation document also proposes a new framework for regulation that is more streamlined and transparent than the current system. This should reduce the compliance costs of early childhood regulation, while ensuring that the current standards are maintained," Trevor Mallard said.

The consultation document - Review of Regulation of Early Childhood Education - and details of the consultation meeting dates and venues are available on www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/ecereviews.

The first consultation meetings will start in mid-June, and submissions close on July 23.

ENDS

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