Petition delivered to steps of Parliament

11 December 2018

The Early Childhood Council today delivered a petition to Parliament seeking scrutiny of the way the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is applied to Pasifika early childhood education teachers.

The paper signature petition with 759 signatures collected from 80 early childhood education (ECE) services, was received by National MP, and early childhood education spokesperson, Nicola Willis.

The Early Childhood Council (ECC) Chief Executive Officer, Peter Reynolds, says the petition seeks a review of the Teaching Council’s IELTS policy as it relates to Pasifika ECE services.

“IELTS is overseen by the Teaching Council and it is a very stringent and costly test. It is also an international standardised test, and it can prove a significant hurdle for those wanting to study to be ECE teachers,” Mr Reynolds says.

“We hear from the sector that immersion Pasifika ECE services are struggling to find Pasifika teachers, and IELTS poses a significant barrier for many Pasifika teachers who are already specialised educators in their own right in their own language,” Mr Reynolds says.

“This is not only an issue when we have a significant teacher shortage in early childhood, but also because Pasifika teachers are specialists in their languages.”

A number of tertiary courses that trained ECE Pasifika teachers have stopped running or been significantly reduced because IELTS, required for the courses for international students, is a significant hurdle.

This means less Pasifika ECE teachers are being trained and are graduating, and Pasifika ECE services are struggling to fill vacancies with candidates with suitable Pasifika language and cultural skills.

While the Teaching Council has signalled the English language policies it oversees in relation to teachers will be undergoing changes, those changes will benefit people from countries where English is the official language and their education has been undertaken in English language.

“It is wonderful to be able to coordinate this petition on behalf of the ECE Pasifika sector and we thank everyone that has contributed to the petition being handed into Parliament for further scrutiny today,” Mr Reynolds says.

The Early Childhood Council is a not-for-profit membership body that represents the interests of 1,200 community-owned and privately-owned early childhood centres.

ENDS

Additional information

There are 4,659 licensed ECE services in New Zealand. 2,635 of these are licensed childcare centres. Of these, 101 are identified by the Ministry of Education as Pasifika services (Samoan, Niuean, Tongan, Cook, Tokelauan and Pacific Island other).

We have gathered 759 signatures, from 80 ECE services, for a paper signature petition to Parliament asking that the House of Representatives inquire into the impact that the Teaching Council’s current application of the International English Language Test System is having on specialist Pasifika language teachers in early childhood education.