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Our teachers matter and so do our children

‘It is great the kindergarten teachers have maintained pay parity with primary school teachers. However, this will create disparity with the rest of the early childhood sector’, Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive of Te Rito Maioha, Early Childhood New Zealand says.

There are currently 654 kindergartens and another 2584 ECE centres operating in education and care. There is a real risk that teachers will be enticed to shift to kindergartens creating an even further challenge in attracting and retaining teachers in the rest of the sector.

Ms Wolfe says ‘Teaching in early childhood is a rewarding profession and we need to attract more people to the ECE workforce. We already have significant shortages. One way to do that is to ensure all ECE qualified teachers, not just those working at kindergartens, are paid at the same level as their primary school peers. After all, the degree qualifications held by kindergarten teachers and qualified teachers in the rest of the ECE sector are the same. Receiving equitable pay will show ECE qualified teachers that they are valued as an integral part of New Zealand’s education system.

‘It was heartening to hear in the RNZ report the view of kindergarten teachers that all early childhood teachers should be rewarded and valued equally.

‘We are advocating that greater investment is required to both attract more people into the ECE teaching profession, and to retain them once qualified. People who have put in the time and effort required to become qualified in ECE teaching should be properly paid, and ECE services must have the money to support their teachers’ ongoing professional learning and development (PLD), after all a teacher is a teacher is a teacher.

‘Government subsidies need to increase for the entire sector, otherwise ECE centres will struggle to maintain high quality education for our youngest and precious citizens. The 1.8% increase to funding announced in the budget that the Minister repeatedly refers to does not nearly meet the cost increases of employing highly qualified and experienced teachers. Who is impacted by this the most? Our tamariki and their whanau!

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