that magical time of year again where our member ECE services and their
teachers will be talking to the children about Santa, and Christmas, reindeer
and stockings. We know not everyone has
everything they need at this time of year, so it is also a good chance for ECE
services to teach children about Manaaki.
ECC National Office, we put the Christmas tree up this week and we are busy
rushing to the end of year. We are
wrapping up the final few workshops, still talking to officials about teacher
shortages, and pondering the detail in the draft Strategic Plan for Early
Learning that was released recently.
great to end the year by submitting a petition to Parliament, asking for
scrutiny into the way the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
is applied specifically to Pasifika ECE teachers. We have worked hard with the sector to
collect 759 signatures from 80 ECE services in support of having IELTS and its
impacts looked into. Along with some
supporters of the petition, myself, and our Policy Officer, gave the petition
to National MP, and ECE spokesperson, Nicola Willis on the steps of Parliament
on 11 December. We are hopeful it will
go to Select Committee and wider scrutiny and submissions there. We will keep you informed about the progress
been a hugely busy year. The ECC has
delivered more than 200 workshops, held webinars, hosted out biggest conference
series ever in three cities, and probably made more submissions and written
more letters than we usually do.
submissions and letters is a necessary voice to ensure we are representing our
membership views as part of the education reforms. For us, we have been involved in the
development of the draft Strategic Plan for early learning, which will
establish a ten-year strategy for ECE. He taonga te tamaiti - every child a taonga – has many good elements, and
some we think need more work or changes.
We look forward to meaningful discussions to finalise the plan next year.
proud to represent our sector and members on the Ministerial Reference Group
that gave advice as part of the Strategy development. There is a lot in the draft Strategic Plan
and we will be making a formal submission on the proposals ahead of the closing
date in March next year. It was a shame
that the ECE funding model (work that was begun and never completed) won’t be
looked at as part of the draft Strategic Plan.
The ECE teacher shortages are also not part of the thinking; and we
don’t know what the costs of the proposed changes will be. The proposals in the draft strategic plan are likely to
carry additional financial impacts on services, but it is unclear what those
are at this stage, or what the proposed changes to funding and subsidy might be
to support all of the proposed changes.
also been involved in the work to develop an Education Workforce Strategy,
which is a long-term plan to address issues with teacher shortages and retention
into the future. We have had concerns
though about the short-term issues around ECED teacher shortages. At the beginning of this year it was revealed
the numbers of people entering initial teacher training to become a tertiary
qualified early childhood teacher dropped by 40 percent (ECE teacher trainees down from 6760
to 3615 in the six years to 2016). These numbers were described as ‘staggering’
by the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, and the headlines said ‘chronic
shortages of teachers laid bare’*.
It was the first time
that we had heard public statements and recognition that there were indeed
shortages of ECE teachers in New Zealand, not only in early childhood education
(ECE) services now, but also long-term as numbers coming out of tertiary
institutions declined. The Early
Childhood Council (ECC) had been saying since September 2017 that the teacher
shortages were not limited just to schools or just to Auckland. It was difficult to back up the claims
without the official statistics or recognition that shortages were real.
The ECC was challenged by
the Minister back in May to come up with ideas for short-term solutions to the
shortage of teachers in ECE. We took
that challenge up. We asked members for
their experiences, and ideas for changes that would help them hire teachers or
survive better while carrying teacher shortages for lengths of time, while
still meeting all the other regulatory requirements, and we then workshopped
those ideas. We also looked at our
membership survey data. We came up with
some sensible ideas for easing the pressures of teacher shortages.
We have heard ECE centres
are trying various ways to attract suitably qualified teaching candidates, but
are finding there are just not the candidates available or that bureaucracy
significantly slows down the ability to hire some teachers quickly. We know around a quarter of our members are
carrying teaching vacancies, and that the vacancies are often open for at least
70-days and sometimes longer.
We submitted a
paper to the Minister that was then sent to officials at the Ministry to look
into. Our ideas include: changes to
policy that would support ECE services when they are carrying long-term
teaching vacancies, adding ECE teachers to the Skills Shortage List, and ensuring
aspects like IELTS aren’t hindering services from hiring teachers quickly.
We are still
working with officials on these ideas and will continue to keep our membership
In terms of
highlights this year:
Also this year, our social media following
has grown on Facebook, and we are currently asking our followers: what would
you like from the government for ECE this Christmas? Make sure you head over to our page to
comment if you have an item to add to the wish list.
Thank you for your support of the ECC this
year. ECE matters and we love
representing our membership. We look
forward to a busy 2019, and another year of change and future proofing out
sector. Merry Christmas and happy New
Chief Executive Officer
Early Childhood Council