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Budget 2010 And Montessori Education

Budget 2010 And Montessori Education

Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand was relieved to see the 20 ECE funding retained in the 2010 Budget for children in early childhood centres and the Government's on-going intention to deliver on on the 2009 Budget announcement to extend 20 ECE to five-year-olds in early childhood centres.

The ability to retain five-year-olds will enable Montessori early childhood centres in New Zealand to offer the full three-year-mixed age grouping from 3-6 years; an essential element of authentic Montessori programmes. Montessori primary classes will also benefit from increased numbers of children entering the Montessori 6-12 year old classes at the age of six.

Not-so-welcome was the news about cuts to funding rates to early childhood services; with dismaying reductions in funding for centres in the current top two funding bands.

From February 2011, the funding for centres on the higher bands will drop by between $1.47 to 54 cents per hour per child. Montessori early childhood centres across the country have been busy doing the math on what the 2010 Budget will mean for their centres and families.

'An average-sized Montessori early childhood centre with 30 children attending 20 hours per week is open around 40 weeks of the year. If this centre was currently on the 80-99% registered teacher funding band, the reduction in their income is 54 cents per child hour which is around $324 per week or $12,700 across the school year,' explains executive officer Ana Pickering. 'For Montessori early childhood centres at 80-99% funding levels with children attending 30 hours per week, the reduction in funding in 2011 rises to close to $20,000 pa.'

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Montessori early childhood centres have worked hard to meet the goal of the ECE Strategic Plan to increase quality in their centres by employing qualified and registered teachers. Since 2002 many experienced Montessori qualified teachers took on the burden of extra study to achieve early childhood qualifications, in order to gain teacher registration.

'Montessori centres who recently achieved the goal of 100% registered teachers, will be short $1.47 per child hour; at 20 hours per week the centre will lose over $35,280 and for 30 hours per week will receive $52,920 less per year.' In addition Montessori centres will be facing further reductions in income when GST increases.

Like other teacher-led early childhood services, Montessori centres have limited options for dealing with these funding losses; the amount that can be recouped from parents through fees is limited and will simply reduce the ability of New Zealand families to access the early childhood service of their choice. The only other alternatives are a reduction in overall staffing levels and number of qualified staff and/or a reduction in the quality of the service offered to these young children. Is this what this government wants for our most vulnerable citizens?

Nearly 4000 families choose Montessori early childhood, primary and high school years. There are 82 Montessori early childhood centres, 27 Montessori primary classes and one high school programme.


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