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Change to provisional licence system

2 December 2004

Change to provisional licence system

Early childhood education centres having problems meeting regulations will be able to have their provisional licences extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances, Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

"Regulatory changes, effective from 1 January 2005, mean that provisional licences may now be extended to a maximum period of 12 months, subject to strict criteria, and at the discretion of the Secretary for Education. Previously the provisional licence was only for a maximum of three months," Trevor Mallard said.

The change to provisional licence regulations is one of several strategies designed to help services meet the goals of the government’s ten-year strategic plan for early childhood education.

"The strategic plan is a key commitment of the Labour-led government, and is aimed at making top quality early childhood education more affordable and accessible for all New Zealand families. We want to give every single youngster the chance for a really good start to their education that will have lasting benefits for the rest of their lives," Trevor Mallard said.

"The minimum standards that services must meet cover building standards, qualifications and health and safety requirements. They are all designed to ensure the quality of education, safety and welfare of children is paramount.

"This change to provisional licensing regulations will give centres experiencing real difficulties more time to work closely with the Ministry of Education to comply with requirements, particularly in relation to building modifications and qualification requirements.

"Services wanting to upgrade or extend their buildings will be particularly interested in the extended provision, given the current building environment which can make building projects difficult to complete within three months.

"New teacher qualification and registration targets start coming into force next year and are aimed at making sure the education that our youngest children receive is of a high quality. The qualification requirements were announced four years ago to ensure services had plenty of time to plan.

"Services may be eligible for a longer provisional licence as long as they meet the new strict criteria. These include evidence of serious attempts to find appropriately qualified staff, and realistic plans to ensure qualification requirements are met.

"As well as this regulatory change, the government has put in place a range of initiatives to help centres meet qualification targets and to increase the number of qualified early childhood education teachers," Trevor Mallard said. (See attached sheet for details).

The Secretary for Education has developed a set of national criteria that will guide decisions about provisional licences. Under no circumstances will a provisional licence be issued to a service in which children’s health and safety is at risk.

Details of the criteria are available on www.minedu.govt.nz by searching on keywords "provisional licence".

Decisions about the duration of the provisional licence will be made on a case-by-case basis. Services that are issued with a provisional licence will be closely monitored by the Ministry of Education which will be tracking their progress towards meeting the conditions listed as part of each service’s provisional licence.

Attached is the list of initiatives to help increase the supply of qualified early childhood education teachers.

ENDS


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