ECE needs flight plan overhaul, not flying squads

News the Ministry of Education is bringing back a Provider Assessment Group, a ‘surprise visit’ investigation unit that shut down 17 early learning services will only add to providers’ woes.

There’s no question safety and quality comes first, and we can’t tolerate practice that puts children’s safety at risk.

Instead of tying providers up in red tape, why not use funding to support them, incentivise the right behaviours and ensure we get the best outcomes for our children. Along with fairness and transparency.

We don’t think crowing about shutting down 17 providers is right. Dragging centres, already struggling with underfunding, the COVID pandemic, a severe teacher shortage and compliance burdens over the coals for extremely minor breaches like the odd incorrect word in their Health and Safety policy doesn’t seem right.

There’s no other sector in New Zealand where a small businesses or community organisations have to comply with over 303 rules and regulations every minute of every day.

We have to ask, are teachers there to fill in forms and tick boxes, or provide high quality care and education to New Zealand children?

These concerns were raised with Education Minister Chris Hipkins at a recent sector forum about the compliance burden on providers, but the sector has had no response.

We have no problem with spot checks, but instead of investing in teams of surprise investigators, a better idea would be fixing the broken funding model to drive the right behaviours.

An added bonus would be parents being able to understand how their taxes are being used in their children’s education and care.