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Early childhood education: Govt sets timeframes

19 October 2006

Government sets timeframes to lift quality in early childhood education
The government has confirmed dates for initiatives to further improve quality in early childhood education, says Education Minister Steve Maharey.

"After discussions with the early childhood sector, Cabinet has agreed timeframes for increasing the number of qualified teachers and improving ratios of teachers to children," Steve Maharey said.

"Early childhood centres will be required to have 50 percent qualified teachers in all centres from December next year.

"This will enable services to manage the introduction of Labour's policy of 20 hours free ECE from 1 July next year, while continuing to employ more qualified teachers.

"Cabinet has also agreed to improvements to adult to child ratios from 2009, and the introduction of a new regulatory system in 2008, which will set clear minimum standards for all early childhood services receiving government funding."

Steve Maharey said the government was working closely with the early childhood sector to ensure changes were workable, and pressures on early childhood centres were minimised.

"The early childhood sector is undergoing an enormous amount of change as we work to lift quality and lower the costs for all New Zealand families. The government has listened to centres and set targets that will be manageable for them.

"Improvements to adult to child ratios will begin in July 2009, and be phased in over 12 months. From 2010, adult to child ratios for children two and a half years and over, in sessional teacher-led services, will change from 1:15 to 1:14."

Steve Maharey said funding rates to early childhood centres had increased from 1 July this year to enable services to employ more qualified teachers without passing additional costs on to parents.

The Labour-led government is also working towards lowering the cost of early childhood education for all New Zealand families with the implementation of up to 20 hours free early childhood education for three and four year-olds beginning in July next year.


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