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Raising quality in early childhood education

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Education

25 May 2012

Media Statement

Raising quality in early childhood education

Education Minister Hon Hekia Parata has today released a series of recommendations on how to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE).

The recommendations are the findings of two advisory groups which were established in January of this year to focus on improving the quality of ECE services, particularly for those children under the age of two.

“I welcome the recommendations and thank the advisory groups for identifying many practical solutions that can be implemented quickly.”

“All of our children deserve high quality ECE. The pre-school years are too critical in terms of learning and development to allow anything else. Parents need to be assured that their children are attending a quality service,’’ says Ms Parata.

“I have asked the Ministry of Education to provide me with advice on the recommendations.

“This will include considering which of the recommendations can be implemented in a shorter timeframe and which will require further work.

“I plan to make a further announcement in August to outline the next steps for these recommendations.”

Media Contact: Julie Ash 04 817 9825/021 3940 327

Recommendations of the Sector Advisory Group on improving quality for under two year olds in ECE




Government supports the provision of specialised professional development for all staff working in services licensed for under twos


Include an infant and toddler component in ECE degrees and diplomas through initial teacher education as well as post-graduate options


A focus on infant and toddler specialisation through study awards that support post graduate study


Introduce a requirement for under two spaces to be staffed by at least 50% qualified staff


Review aspects of regulations and licensing criteria against best practice (key teacher requirements) and international criteria (such as World Health Organisation requirements for space and room temperature), with a view to improving under two settings


Introduce regulated group size. In the context of improved ratios such as 1:3 or 1:4, regulate for group size of three times the adult: child ratio. If current adult: child ratios remain in place, regulate for a maximum group size of 12


Consider introducing a review/renewal of licence process every three years


Ministry to monitor infant and toddler settings more proactively, through annual service spot-checks


Ministry of Education to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health to support the health of under twos in ECE (ie noise levels, physical environment, spread of infectious diseases)


Ministry of Education and ERO to work collaboratively to ensure quicker responses for under twos in poor quality settings


Ensuring that ERO reports are in accessible formats for parents


Ensuring information is provided to parents about how ECE can support the needs of under twos


Ministry processes to be more proactive in supporting the planning stage for new services to ensure high quality outcomes for infants and toddlers


A review of the home-based service type be carried out as a matter of urgency


Through the ECE funding review, consideration be given to more flexible funding for infants and toddlers in ECE and how to better support infants and toddlers with special needs and their families.

Recommendations of the Sector Advisory Group on improving sector wide quality




Develop a protocol between the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office (ERO) to ensure a faster response when poor quality services are identified by ERO.


The Ministry develops further information about quality risk factors for services to enable more active monitoring of at-risk services.


More active use of existing licensing sanctions.


Teacher-led, centre-based services should be required by regulations to have 80% registered teachers from 1 July 2013, and this should apply explicitly to teachers counted in ratios for children aged less than two.


Further work be undertaken to establish appropriate maximum group sizes for children in centre-based services.


Development of the new funding system should include incentives for services to meet higher levels of quality in addition to teacher registration.


Services should be required to provide information to their families on the results of ERO reviews, and any changes to their licence status.


Research to improve our understanding of quality in ECE, with a particular focus on the following specific services and groups of learners: home-based; infants and toddlers; Māori and Pasifika learners, and learners with special needs.


Development of a medium-term plan to bring more sustainable change to the quality of ECE services by increasing the stock of high-quality professional ECE leaders.


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