NZ commits to quality in 10-year early learning vision
The New Zealand Government has announced a 10-year early learning plan which “looks to restore the Government’s commitment to quality”, and includes a focus on more early childhood teachers and improving ratios for those caring for babies and toddlers.
The draft plan, He taonga te tamaiti, sets the direction for early learning for the next 10 years and is open for consultation until 15 March 2019. NZ Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the plan reflected the commitment from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.
“All the evidence shows that early learning gives children a head start in life, improves their wellbeing and contributes to a happy safe childhood. But only if it’s high quality. Participation in early learning has grown in recent years, but this doesn’t mean that all children have access to high quality learning opportunities,” Mr Hipkins said.
The reference group tasked with formulating the plan worked with an advisory group, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, and the Ministry of Education around three core themes: quality, equity and choice.
Describing the five goals of the project as aspirational, Mr Hipkins acknowledged that the draft plan represented significant changes for the sector, and that the plan was “a long-term commitment which requires a staged approach to allow time for the sector to respond to the changes and additional workforce demands”.
Key changes include:
- Moving to a 100 per cent qualified teacher workforce in ECEC centres
- Improving the adult:child ratios for children under three
- Increasing the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions across the sector
- A more planned approach to establishing new services, greater support for services, and increased monitoring.