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EC Staffing Shambles

Tue, 05 Oct 2004

EC Staffing Shambles

To see a small rural early childhood centre taking on the might of the Secretary and Minister of Education in the High Court is surprising but may be just the first of many legal challenges. Hundreds of centres around New Zealand are facing closure and they are getting angry and desperate.

The Kawhia PreSchool, like many others in and around New Zealand are well supported by their community. They are viable and have achieved good reviews from the ERO, yet the Minister¹s qualification and staffing policies, as interpreted by the Secretary of Education, will result in the loss of their licence and funding, and consequent closure of the centre.

"The Ministry¹s own staffing survey data indicates that as many as 400 centres around New Zealand cannot comply with the new requirements by 1 January 2005 and some cannot comply now" said Sue Thorne, Chief Executive Officer of Early Childhood Council.

A recent survey by the Early Childhood Council indicates that 36% of centres currently have a position available for a qualified staff member.

"The government staffing and qualification policies have been one blunder after another" said Mrs Thorne.

The Minister¹s policies have precipitated a staffing crisis by changing the rules as to who is qualified but failing to ensure there are sufficient staff available in all areas with the new qualifications.

Worse still the staff with new qualifications are not always as competent and experienced as those being purged from the sector.

It's rather ironic that in the name of improving quality in centres the Ministry of Education intends to close them down" said Mrs Thorne.


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