02 Oct 2015
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Changes to NZ's early education could require significant investment

By Catherine Knowles

Education Minister Hekia Parata has released the report of the Advisory Group on Early Learning, which is designed to give children the best possible start to their early learning.

The report recommends that early childhood education (ECE) services and schools have a more formal responsibility to work with children and their families as they make the transition from ECE to school.

“Through Communities of Learning, ECE services and schools will be working together more closely to strengthen the educational transitions at a time that’s critical for kids as they develop their foundations for learning,” says Parata.

However, these changes will require significant investment, says NZEI Te Riu Roa, an organisation dedicated to safeguarding New Zealand’s public education system.

The recommendations laid out in the report could represent a major overhaul of early childhood education and will require a major funding boost, says Virginia Oakly NZEI Te Riu Roa national executive member.

“We welcome many of the recommendations of this report, which are focused on ensuring quality ECE and improving transitions for our youngest learners, “ says Oakly.

“Whether these recommendations come to life from this report in a market-driven early childhood education system remains to be seen,” she says.

“Our kindergartens and ECE centres are facing a funding crisis due to a government driving up participation at the expense of quality.

“Per-child funding is inadequate and quality community centres and kindergartens are feeling a severe pinch.

“Good initiatives such as increased non-contact hours and a greater focus on special educational needs will have to be backed up not only with dollars but also with a move away from market-driven provision,” she says.

Oakly says NZEI Te Riu Roa will be working with services and government to ensure the best aspects of this report are implemented and resourced.

Parata says, “The Ministry of Education will address the recommendations through the Education Work programme over the next three years, in particular through the increasing involvement of ECE services in Communities of Learning.”

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