National needs to be open and transparent about ECE plans

Press Release – NZEI

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is urging National to be open and transparent about its plans for early childhood education given the experience of the last election.National needs to be open and transparent about plans for ECE

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is urging National to be open and transparent about its plans for early childhood education given the experience of the last election.

In announcing policy in the lead up to the 2008 election, National failed to signal the massive funding cuts it made to ECE when it became government. Those cuts saw hundreds of millions of dollars stripped from thousands of ECE services around the country.

“ECE services and communities are understandably a little wary of what National’s true agenda might be considering they were completely blind-sided by the cuts,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.

Under National’s education policy, it would set a 2015 target of 98% of new entrants having participated in early childhood education.

NZEI says that recognises that early childhood education is the foundation for all future learning but any drive to boost participation must promote quality services and qualified teachers.

“That means early childhood education which is properly funded, is affordable for parents, provides low ratios and effective learning environments and has 100% fully qualified staff,” says Hayley Whitaker.

“There’s no point in trying to encourage participation on the one hand, while cutting funding to services on the other. The funding cuts to those services with more than 80 % qualified staff has pushed up fees to parents and created barriers to participation.”

Hayley Whitaker says it is still disappointing that National does not recognise the value of qualified teachers in early childhood education and will not commit to restoring the 100% fully qualified target.

NZEI says National has made a commitment to maintain 20 Hours ECE and fee controls, in a clear response to public pressure. The party is also promising changes to the funding model for ECE.

Ms Whitaker says “I think everyone would acknowledge that ECE funding is complex but we would urge National to undertake some fair and open consultation with services and communities before making wholesale change.”

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