Ministry of Education high trust vision will fail if ECE remains unequal

16 December 2020

The Early Childhood Council says the ‘educationally powerful connections’ vision set out in the Ministry of Education’s Briefing for Incoming Education Minister will be handicapped by the broken early learning funding model.

The Ministry sees trust in relationships as key to change and progress in this term - but the ECC warns that if community and privately owned ECE centres remain on an uneven playing field compared to kindergartens and hamstrung by regulation, that trust will evaporate.

“We broadly agree with the direction set out, but relationships are best when built on mutual trust and transparency. The current funding model is broken and lies at the heart of so much inequality in our system. Let’s get that right first,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

Centres often find outmoded funding rules prevent what’s best for children. For example, providers that want to offer higher-than-regulated teacher ratios aren’t allowed to ask parents to contribute to that cost.

“For these centres, this increases the number of teachers per child past the regulated minimum, offering a higher level of quality that some parents support. Surely this is a matter of parent choice, not a Ministry decision. These centres might be better off starting a Go Fund Me page to meet the needs of its parents, and improve the quality of experience for the child,” said Mr Reynolds.

“Better consultation and collaboration on regulation reform, interpretation and monitoring that works in the real world and fixing the funding model would build that high trust model and help truly achieve what the Ministry has set out to the Minister and the early learning sector,” said Mr Reynolds.

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