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ECE policy: Your family - your choice

Anne Tolley MP
National Party Education Spokeswoman
Paula Bennett MP
Associate Education Spokeswoman (Early Childhood)

11 July 2008

ECE policy: Your family - your choice

National today released details of its early childhood education policy, which includes retaining but improving the 20 Hours scheme for three- and four-year-olds.

National Party Education spokeswoman Anne Tolley says, “While we will keep the scheme, it will be renamed ’20 Hours ECE’, instead of ’20 Hours Free’, which was patently misleading. We will retain all the existing subsidies and fee controls. But we will also make the scheme much more flexible for parents.”

Paula Bennett says, “Thousands of parents are now using 20 Hours and we do not want to cause them uncertainty, especially in these challenging economic times. However, we will not live with the clearly dishonest claim of the scheme being free for parents. It never was.

“What we will do is improve the scheme to make it much more flexible and available to more children, while giving parents the freedom to choose which facility best suits them.”

National will:

• Remove the six-hours-a-day limit.

• Include play centres and kohanga reo in 20 Hours ECE.

• Provide 20 Hours ECE to five-year-olds.

• Investigate more frequent payment methods.

Staff ratios, reducing bureaucracy, and boosting participation rates are also key parts of the policy.

“To combat teacher shortages we plan to promote working while training, allow qualified English-speaking foreign teachers to qualify after an intensive six-week programme, and allow Montessori, Steiner, and play centre qualifications to count towards a degree.

“Staff ratios for under two-year-olds are critical. We believe the current 1:5 ratio is too high. We do not think one person will always be enough to ensure all five babies can be guaranteed the high level of attention they may need. Over time, we will reduce that ratio to 1:4.

“We will also ensure that, after 2012, sessions for the under-twos in teacher-led early childhood centres are staffed by at least 50% qualified teachers.

“Our policy backs parents. It recognises that parents, by and large, will make the right decisions for their children.

“This policy gives them the flexibility to do that.”


For policy summary visit:


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