NZ Government allocates $287 million to restore 100 per cent funding band for ECTs
The New Zealand Government’s commitment to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE) is taking “another step forward” with the reintroduction of a higher funding rate for services that employ fully qualified and registered early childhood teachers (ECTs), NZ Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced yesterday.
NZ’s Budget 2020 provides $278.2 million to restore the 100 per cent funding band for teacher-led ECE services after it was scrapped by the previous Government in 2010.
The decision to restore the funding, he added, was backed by research which shows that high-quality ECE can improve young people’s learning and developmental outcomes, particularly for children in low socio-economic groups.
ECE was a top priority for the 2020 Budget, he said, noting the impact of what he views as “a decade of underfunding in early childhood education” under the previous National Government.
“As we respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and rebuild together, it is vitally important that the sector responsible for our youngest New Zealanders is funded properly,” Mr Hipkins said.
In 2018, around 400 New Zealand centres (13 per cent of teacher-led centres) employed “a fully qualified and certificated workforce” he added, explaining that the newly announced initiative will “reward centres offering the highest quality education by ensuring all of their required teachers are fully trained teachers.”
“This funding boost comes at a time when COVID-19 is likely to lower demand for early learning services. This new funding band will encourage more centres to use fully trained teachers and keep them in work,” Mr Hipkins continued.
“Today’s investment builds on the $320.8 million investment in early learning announced last week, which focused on improving the pay of some of the lowest paid teachers,” he added.
Reinstating the 100 per cent funding band is one of the top action points in the Early Learning Action Plan.
The new 100 per cent funding rates will apply from 1 January 2021. Eligible centres will receive the increased payments in November 2020 advance funding to cover January and February 2021.
Currently the requirement is that ECT-led centres need to have at least 50 per cent of staff required to meet adult-to-child ratios with a recognised ECE teaching qualification. Almost all (96 per cent) teacher-led centres employ 80 per cent or more qualified and certificated teachers. A small number (135 out of 3,305) teacher-led centres employ fewer than 80 per cent qualified and certificated teachers.