Montessori ECE Centres Uncertain
Montessori ECE Centres Uncertain Government’s 20 Free ECE Policy
An Montessori Association of NZ (MANZ) survey has found most Montessori early childhood centres remain uncertain about offering the government’s 20 hours free early childhood education.
The majority of centres surveyed shows 55% are undecided about offering the free ece at their Montessori centre. 24% of survey respondents said they would definitely not be offering free early childhood education. Only 21% said they would be offering the 20 Free ECE at the present rates offered by the government.
Montessori ece centres who have decided not to take part in the 20 Free ece stated that the funding level offered for the 20hrs free ECE was simply insufficient to cover the costs of running a Montessori centre, the rates offered provide no incentive to offer 20 Free ECE, the additional paper workload for 20 Free would require extra staff to be employed, that the funding rate offered would require Montessori centres to reduce the quality of programmes offered to children and parents, a strong reluctance to base the quality of programmes offered on voluntary parent payments and concern that there will be no guarantee that the 20 Free rate will be adjusted for inflation.
Montessori centres that remain undecided about offering 20 Free would review their ability to offer 20 Free ECE if the rate were increased or if it was made clearer how ‘’optional costs’’ could be charged so that the quality of Montessori programmes could be maintained.
The Montessori centres that have decided to offer the 20 Free indicate they wish to enable fees for 3 and 4 year olds to be reduced and intend to collect donations from parents to make up fee shortfalls.
MANZ Executive Officer Ana Pickering said: ‘A major concern of Montessori centres is their ability to continue to offer the quality Montessori programmes that parents are seeking. Although Montessori is a small part of the ECE sector it is well established in NZ. The first Montessori centres in NZ were opened prior to WW1 and since the mid 1970’s Montessori has flourished both at early childhood, primary and now secondary level. It would be disappointing if this latest government funding policy resulted in a reduction in the quality of Montessori education offered or made Montessori affordable only to the wealthy.’’
The MANZ survey results are based on an email survey sent to 61 Montessori early childhood centres throughout NZ. The response rate was 48%.