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Qualified Teachers Help Ensure Quality for Young Children

Qualified Teachers Help Ensure Quality for Young Children

Parents wanting quality early childhood education for their children should look for services that have 100 per cent qualified teachers, says one of the country’s largest Kindergarten Associations.

Recent reports have described some early childhood services as “kiddie prisons” and one teacher said parents don’t know what happens once they leave their child.

Current regulations are woefully minimal in that only 50% of staff are required to be qualified, registered teachers. Qualified, registered teachers must abide by the Teaching Council standards and abide by a Code of Ethics, and so if all centres were required to have 100% qualified registered teachers, some of the huge variations in quality and safety would be significantly reduced.

Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens runs 86 kindergartens in the lower North Island and three home-based networks catering for more than 5,000 children each day. All teachers are qualified and registered.

Chief executive Amanda Coulston says children’s well-being is the highest priority, and families are always welcome to spend time at kindergarten and many do, regularly.

“Research shows that qualified teachers have the knowledge and attitudes to see the world from children’s perspective and to provide the warm and stimulating environment they need to cater for their emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual welfare.”

In addition, kindergartens are not motivated by profit and kindergarten teachers have pay and conditions that are similar to school teachers, meaning they have more job satisfaction and more commitment to their profession and to their employer. Many teachers in the private sector have low pay and long hours. Staff can be expected to put the company’s interests before those of children.

“Parents should ask about qualified teachers, about centre ownership, about teacher pay and conditions and turnover, and should spend time in a centre, watching how children and teachers relate to each other, before choosing a place for their children” Ms Coulston says.

The government is currently consulting on a new plan for early childhood education which has the potential to improve conditions for children with more qualified teachers, better ratios and limits on the expansion of poor quality services. Ms Coulston says: “The move to 100% qualified registered teachers needs to happen as a matter of urgency – for the sake of everyone, but most of all for the sake of the nation’s youngest”.

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