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Survey Reveals ECE Sector Not Optimistic Of Improvement Under New Government

The outlook for the early childhood education (ECE) sector continues to be bleak, the OECE Pre-Budget Confidence Survey finds.

Only 11% of respondents felt the government was taking the right direction for the ECE sector.

Views on government effectiveness in managing the ECE sector continue to worsen. A net negative 63% think the direction being taken is right, compared to a net negative 59% last year.

ECE sector pessimism has been increasing year to year since 2018.

In the next 12 months, more than three quarters of respondents (78%) expect things to worsen for the ECE sector.

Currently many ECE service/s are struggling, as 36% of respondents had ECE service/s not going well or only slightly well. Only 18% reported their service/s was going extremely or very well.

OECE chief advisor Dr Sarah Alexander says exhaustion from staffing shortages and funding woes, and now being told to expect big change in the regulatory environment, more market competition, and withdrawal of ECE teacher pay parity support funding that has helped education and care centres retain teachers, are likely to be weighing on sentiment generally.

“As the ECE sector has been in bad shape, a change of government might be expected to bring renewed optimism. But it hasn’t.

“The fact the Ministry for Regulation is reviewing ECE first before any other industry has people worried about facing a whole new round of challenges and changes.

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“The lack of policy on building a sustainable NZ ECE teacher qualified workforce, might also explain the high degree of pessimism,” Dr Alexander says.

Another problem is that policy proposals so far seem focused one component of the ECE sector – education and care centres - and services such as Playcentre and Home-based ECE seem to be largely overlooked.

Pessimism is the highest it’s been in six years prior to the release of Government’s annual Budget.

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