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Children’s early learning worth the investment

Children’s early learning worth the investment

For immediate release

2 October 2015

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ) welcomes recommendations made by the Minister of Education’s Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL) in a report released today.

Nancy Bell, Chief Executive of Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ) said that the standout recommendations in the report were around strengthening transitions from early childhood education (ECE) to school, professional development programmes for ECE leaders and early years teachers, early learning clusters and teacher inquiry time, and the development of web-based resources to support Te Whāriki (the early childhood curriculum).

ECE services and schools should be required to implement and evaluate transition to school policies.

Ms Bell said that while most ECE services and schools already have transition policies, it was right to make these mandatory and timely that they be strengthened and reviewed.

‘It’s great to see this focus on transition to school – a time of opportunity and also risk for a child. Thoughtful attention to this critical period will help all children but especially those whose home language is not English and children with special educational needs.’

Significant professional development investment

The report recommends significant investment in professional development to strengthen curriculum implementation and learning continuity across the early years.

Ms Bell said that this is something the sector has been seeking for some time.

‘ECE has been largely ignored when it comes to Government’s systemic investment in professional leadership. Investing in leaders is a cost-effective way to strengthen learning.

‘Recommendations related to shared professional development early years teachers (ECE and primary) are also welcomed. We understand that resourcing for these programmes is being considered as part of government’s overall PLD investments and await further information. There is no doubt that resourcing in PLD will be key to achieving shifts in practice.’

Early learning-clusters and inquiry time for teachers

‘We welcome the recommendations on clusters,’ said Ms Bell. ‘Sharing of best practice that supports strong learning outcomes is consistent with international best practice.’

Minister Parata has advised that she intends to use the recently established Communities of Learners as the primary vehicle for bringing educators together. ‘However funding will be required for ECE services to be able to release teachers to take part.’

The report recommends that qualified teachers have paid released time for two hours per week for inquiry that supports children’s learning.

MS Bell said, ‘While most employers would agree that this is highly desirable, the provision of additional non-contact time would be impossible for many employers unless it were government funded. Employers are already struggling to make ends meet and this is unlikely to be affordable without significant increases to funding rates.’

Modular web-based professional development resources

Members welcome the updating and digitising of Te Whāriki and the development of modular web-based resources.

‘Te Whāriki was developed 20 years ago and is highly regarded internationally for its visionary bicultural framework but it is timely to update it,’ said Ms Bell. ‘As the report states, childhood has changed since 1996 and the curriculum document needs to reflect this.’

ENDS

Please note that Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand should be cited in full in the first instance and can then be abbreviated to ECNZ.

About Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ)

ECNZ represents around 600 early childhood education (ECE) services, providing education and care to thousands of infants, toddlers and young children. Established in 1963, ECNZ has a long history of improving standards of practice in New Zealand’s early childhood education sector.


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