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BestStart Statement – Ministry of Education 10-year strategy

BestStart, New Zealand’s largest early childhood education provider, has cautiously welcomed the government’s 10-year strategy for early childhood education.

Fiona Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of BestStart, says there are many initiatives that will be widely welcomed by the early childhood sector, and she was pleased to see there were ‘many objectives focused on lifting quality, equitable opportunities for all and better data around participation.’

However, she was cautious around some objectives. ‘Improving teacher and child ratios, diversity, teachers’ conditions and salaries and going to 80 percent then 100% qualified teachers is great - but we need to know to what extent this will be funded. We’ve seen negligible funding boosts over the last decade.’

Hughes says the early childhood teacher shortage strategy ‘sounds good but the time to act was some years ago. We need to know how governments will change their data collection, so this never happens again.

Meanwhile, right now, in centres all over New Zealand, staff and families are bearing the brunt of this crisis.’

Hughes is careful to point out that the outcomes of the strategy are some time away; ‘It is a comprehensive document with some great aspirations. However, the actions will be spread out over a 10-year period and many will be contingent on the economy or government of the day.’

BestStart is a registered charity and has 270 early learning centres, all are quite different as they reflect the different communities they serve – note, not a chain or franchise.

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