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Making history for Early Childhood Education

Making history for Early Childhood Education – Petition for Pay Parity presented at Parliament

This week a petition with more than 15,000 signatures was presented at parliament to Nicola Willis, MP and opposition spokesperson for Early Childhood Education. Also attending were Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and Hon Nikki Kaye.

The petition asks the Government to instruct the Ministry of Education to end pay discrimination against teachers working in publicly funded early childhood education (ECE) services. It can be found here: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/p/ece-parity

This week also the Government released its 10-Year Early Learning Action Plan and this will take time to implement. It is unfortunate that this plan does not mention pay parity for qualified ECE teachers.

Pay Parity Steering Group member, David Haynes, said that the Government would be making a mistake to plead that pay parity was not possible now.

“The government applied pay parity for school and kindergarten teachers in just a few months. Failing to extend this to all other qualified teachers in publicly funded ECE makes it appear that it does not care enough about the teachers of the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society – our children”, he said.

ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander said that the huge response to the petition shows recognition of the fact that today teachers in ECE must hold a recognised teaching qualification and meet exactly the same professional requirements for a practising certificate as teachers in schools and kindergartens.

“The petition is history-making as it shows that opinion in regard to early childhood education being little more than a babysitting service has changed. ECE teachers today are professionals who must have a high level of expertise and knowledge.

“Just because those who worked in ECE have historically been paid substantially less than their peers in kindergartens and schools, does not make it right today.”

Dr Alexander added that the quality of ECE for children depends on having skilled and qualified teachers.

“The OECD has argued the need for countries to invest in improved training and qualifications for staff working in Early Childhood Education. But low pay does not give staff in teaching positions an incentive to work toward becoming qualified and certificated,” she said.

“Many qualified and highly experienced teachers are barely earning the living wage. Teachers’ good will is being severely taken for granted”, said Dr Alexander.

The rates set by the Ministry of Education for attestation of teacher salaries by early childhood services are $45,491 or $21.87 an hour and $46,832 or $22.51 hour, depending on the level of qualification held.

There is already a nation-wide shortage of qualified ECE teachers and the current discrimination in the allocation and level of Government funding will only make this worse.

The petition asks the Government to require the Ministry of Education to change the rates to ensure teachers are not paid less than their peers in kindergartens and schools.

Dr Alexander said that the Pay Parity Campaign was started by a small group of volunteers because the vast majority of teachers in ECE are not members of NZEI, which mainly represents school and kindergarten teachers. Details of the pay parity campaign for early childhood teachers can be found here: https://www.childforum.com/pay-parity.html

NZEI is currently lobbying for ‘fair pay’ or pay equity on the basis that ECE is a female dominated profession.

“It is not focused on getting pay parity for all qualified ECE teachers with teachers working in kindergarten. NZEI has not supported the pay parity petition and our efforts to achieve pay parity for all of ECE,” Dr Alexander said.

David Haynes said: “the problem is not to do with gender – teachers in kindergartens have pay parity and kindergartens are female dominated. The problem stems from the Ministry of Education’s, and the Government’s, slowness in acknowledging that today there is no difference in the training and professional requirements of qualified teachers. Consequently, the ECE funding decisions that the Ministry of Education makes, and that the Government supports, are unfair.”


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