New Zealand ECTs call discrimination on latest Government pay announcement

by Freya Lucas

May 28, 2020

Early childhood teachers (ECTs) in New Zealand have responded to a recent Government announcement of funding to bring the minimum pay for ECTs outside the kindergarten sector into alignment with those within it, saying that until they are able access the Kindergarten Association pay scale, teachers will continue to be lost to the sector. 

 

The challenges faced in New Zealand mirror closely those faced in Australia, where Bachelor qualified candidates are often drawn to working in schools or preschool settings, drawn by opportunities and conditions such as higher wages and school holidays not typically available in long day care settings. 

 

Chief Executive of early childhood representative group ChildForum, Dr Sarah Alexander, recently led a delegation who presented to NZ’s Ministry of Education about the issue. While the Government has raised the base rate for ECTs, to be in line with those who work in kindergarten, they did not have the ability to move teachers up a pay scale, as they did in kindergarten. 

 

“This is discriminatory, and it’s not only discriminatory, it also doesn’t support excellent outcomes across the teacher-lead early childhood education (ECE) sector. Instead it gives one group of employers the upper hand when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified teachers,” Dr Alexander told local newsource Stuff NZ.

 

In response, Deputy Secretary of Engagement and Support for NZ Ministry of Education, Katrina Casey, told the publication that the Government’s commitment of a 3.9 per cent increase to funding rates for education and care services in the 2020 budget was a measure to address low pay. 

 

Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins, on announcing the funding, acknowledged it as a first step, one which goes “some way towards levelling the playing field for ECE centres to employ qualified teachers”.

 

I do acknowledge that fully closing the gap between education and care services and kindergartens will be a challenge to be addressed over a number of budgets,” he added. 

 

St Mary’s early childhood manager Heather TeHuia said issues with retaining staff as a result of the disparity were a recent issue, one which is exacerbated by the fact that teachers can earn approximately $30,000 more by working in kindergarten as opposed to early childhood.

 

With the promise of more money, more holidays and working fewer hours, as well as educating and caring for older children than those found in early childhood settings, her question, after 40 years of working in the sector was “why wouldn’t they go?”

 

To read the original coverage of this story, please see here

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