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Early Childhood Policy, Q & A, Factsheet


Labour’s Vision

Labour believes that every New Zealander is entitled to access quality public education of the highest standard, throughout their lives. Quality education ensures that every Kiwi regardless of who they are and where they come from can achieve their full potential and contribute to New Zealand's society and economy.

Early childhood education is the first stepping-stone on the path to lifelong learning. Access to high quality early childhood education that parents can afford, is the firm footing children need to thrive at school and beyond.

Labour's Achievements

Labour has already improved the quality of teaching and access to early childhood education by:

- Increasing government's investment in early childhood education – by 2009, it will have increased 140 percent compared to 1999.

- Working with the sector to develop Nga Huarahi Arataki, Pathways to the Future: A 10-year strategic plan for ECE. The plan sets out the shared vision of the sector and the government.

- Requiring all teacher-led services to have at least one registered and qualified teacher (97% of services have already met this standard, with the others being given dedicated assistance to meet the target.)

- Implementing a higher rate of funding for services that employ more registered teachers. $546 million has been put aside to fund this between 2005 and 2008 – approximately $245 million (44%) will go to private services and $301 million (56%) will go to community based services.

- Increasing the number of early childhood teacher trainees to 4,700 – up from 2,653 in 1999. This has in part been helped by a number of government funded grants and incentives.

- Taking to 900, the number of bonded scholarships ($43.7 million over four years) for people from low-income backgrounds to train as early childhood teachers.

- Introducing equity funding for early childhood centres in low-income neighbourhoods, at a value of around $11 million per year.

- Mapping the network of early childhood services, and identifying 'hot spots' where more services are needed to meet demand.

- Creating extra places for more than 4,300 thousand children. Community based early childhood education centres across New Zealand received $64 million to extend, upgrade or develop their buildings.

- Creating Centres of Innovation – supporting services to carry out research into teaching and learning, and strengthen effective practice in early childhood education.

- Introduced start-up grants for new community based centres

Labour's Priorities for the next term

More Affordable

During our next term in government Labour will:

- Provide funding for 20 hours free early childhood education for three and four year olds attending any licensed, teacher-led services from July 2007.

- Review funding arrangements for playcentres to ensure that they are fairly resourced and that the contribution they make to the early childhood education sector is appropriately recognised.

More Accessible

During our next term in government Labour will:

- Work with existing early childhood providers to encourage them to extend services, by either growing their centres (where appropriate) or establishing additional centres on other sites. We will also engage existing providers to act as mentors for new centre managers.

- Encourage employers (particularly in the state sector) to establish early childhood education facilities on work sites.

- Extend and promote the highly successful scholarship scheme for early childhood teacher trainees, so there are sufficient quality teachers to staff the additional services.

- Promote the benefits of participating in early childhood education to families and whanau with children under three years old.

- Continue to develop capacity in Pasifika communities to deliver early childhood education in Pasifika languages to foster participation of Pasifika peoples.

More Responsive

During our next term in government Labour will:

- Encourage parental and staff involvement in the governance of community early childhood services, and provide them with good information to guide their input.

- Support initiatives within the health sector to identify barriers to early learning.

Questions and Answers

Early Childhood Education

Why are you extending the 20 hours free to more licensed services?

When we announced the 20 hours free policy in Budget 2004 we saw it as the next logical extension of the free 12 to 15 hours a week provided at kindergartens which are also community-owned. Extending coverage to private centres was up to now not affordable. However, the government's financial position has continued to strengthen and we are now in a position to extend the 20 hours per week free policy to all licensed teacher-led early childhood education services.

How much will this policy cost?

The 20 hours free at community-based services was estimated to cost about $52 million a year. We estimate that the additional cost of extending the 20 hours per week free policy to private services will be around $53 million in 2007/08 rising to around $63 million in 2011/12. These figures are GST exclusive.

Does this mean that all early childhood providers will be able to get funding for 20 hours per week free for 3 and 4 year olds?

Funding for 20 hours free will be restricted to licensed, teacher-led services.

Labour is committed to improving quality in early childhood education. We do not want this extra funding to go to unlicensed, backyard childcare facilities that do not provide quality educational outcomes.

How will playcentres be affected by Labour's policy?

Playcentres are not teacher-led and do not have teacher registration requirements therefore the costs of running these centres is much lower as they do not have to pay for qualified and trained staff.

However, Labour does recognise the benefits that playcentres provide, and we have committed to reviewing funding arrangements for playcentres to ensure that they are fairly resourced and that the contribution they make to the early childhood education sector is appropriately recognised.

When will the 20 hours per week free early childhood education for three and four-year-olds come into force?

In July 2007. The government is taking an active approach to managing the early childhood education network, so the sector is strengthened to the level where it has the capacity to deliver free education to as many three and four year olds as possible. It takes time to train extra staff and to build and acquire the necessary buildings.

Why is 20 hours free quality early childhood education important?

Research shows that intensive and regular participation in quality early childhood education delivers the strongest benefits for children in education later in life.

Providing 20 hours free education a week for three and four-year-olds in teacher-led licensed services is a major step towards providing regular and intensive quality early childhood education for children.

Research also shows that teacher qualifications are a key factor in delivering quality early childhood education for children. That's why the government has set teacher registration requirements.

How will you guarantee that services in private centres are provided free?

The government will work with the sector over the next year to finalise contractual arrangements which will ensure those centres getting the additional funding are providing the services free of charge.

Facts about Early Childhood Education

- Early childhood education services include playcentres, home-based care providers, kohanga reo, education and care services, kindergartens, licence-exempt playgroups and The Correspondence School.

- The government will spend approximately $523 million funding early childhood education in the 2005/2006 financial year, an increase of $234 million or 81 per cent since 1999/00.

- A total of 163,058 children were enrolled at licensed early childhood education services during 2004:

o 45,287 children were enrolled at kindergartens

o 15,440 children were enrolled in playcentres

o 81,096 children were enrolled in education and care services

o 10,418 children were enrolled in kohanga reo

o 9,922 children were enrolled at home-based services

o 922 children were enrolled in early childhood programmes through the correspondence school.

- As at July 2004 there were 979 private teacher-led early childhood education services, teaching 45,000 children, and there were 1,365 community-based services.

- This year all teacher-led early childhood education services must have present at all times, at least one registered and qualified teacher designated as a 'person responsible'. Provisional licences may be issued to services that are having difficulty in meeting the qualification requirements for persons responsible but only under certain circumstances.

- By 2012, all regulated staff in teacher-led services must be registered, although an exemption to the requirement allows services to meet the target of registration by having up to 30 per cent of their teachers enrolled in approved teacher education programmes

- A registered early childhood education teacher is a person who holds the appropriate qualification and is registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council, just like primary and secondary teachers. The minimum qualification requirement for registration is a Diploma of Teaching (ECE) from a course approved by the New Zealand Teachers Council.

- The government has put in place a wide range of initiatives to ensure that the teacher registration requirements can be met. These have included:

o TeachNZ scholarships to support more people to train as ECE teachers

o National and international relocation grants for ECE teachers

o Returning to teaching allowances and beginning teacher resources

o Financial support for current ECE teachers to up-skill and existing primary teachers to re-train in the early childhood area

- In July 2004 4,708 people were enrolled in ECE teacher education. In 2003, around 1,000 people graduated from ECE teacher education. 2004 graduate data will be available later this year.


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