Open Letter To Minister Hipkins
13 May 2021
Dear Mr Hipkins
I watched with interest on Wednesday as you announced a move towards pay parity for teachers in early childhood education (ECE) centres. You said a funding increase of $170 million was intended to help these teachers move towards pay parity with their equivalents in kindergartens. I applaud this move and the increased recognition of the role of Kaiako in early learning services, however, was disappointed to see that it appears home-based services have been excluded from this funding increase.
Did you forget about us?
Home-based services are teacher-led services, just like their centre-based equivalents. They employ visiting teachers who are fully qualified and registered teachers, supporting networks of educators in their regions. Our visiting teachers are professional leaders in early childhood education and care – mentoring educators and connecting regularly with families. Their role is full and varied, with many demands equal to that of management and head teacher roles in centre-based ECE services. They are responsible for licences and for ensuring all licensing criteria is met across premises, health and safety, curriculum and management. Their role cannot be overlooked when it comes to pay parity decisions.
In the cabinet paper that you wrote in February 2019 as a part of the home-based early learning review outcomes, you discuss the importance of sustainability for our sector, the need for experienced visiting teachers and the mentoring and leadership role that they have. You also share the importance of providing our visiting teachers with additional support and training given the key role they play in assuring quality. By not including visiting teachers in the pay parity funding increases, you are reneging on your commitment to support the visiting teacher role and the wider intentions of the home-based review and Early Learning Strategic Plan. Quite frankly, you are leaving home-based ECE and the tamariki, staff whanau and communities that we support out in the cold.
Don’t forget about us Minister Hipkins. Home-based ECE is the fastest growing part of the early learning sector. And we’re a passionate bunch. We believe in our kaupapa and the work that we have been called to do but we need your help to do it. When you forget about the important role that our visiting teachers play, you de-value us and create an unfair division in our sector based on discrimination.
This, in turn, makes it hard for us to attract, retain and reward our visiting teachers, who are so treasured by those they care for and support.
At the end of the day, we’re all after the same thing – the best possible outcomes for our tamariki. It’s time to come together and recognise and acknowledge the critical role that each part of the early learning sector plays in this, without prejudice. A teacher is a teacher is a teacher.
President of the NZ Home Base Association