ECE centres should ignore Minister’s mixed messages

06 July 2020

The Early Childhood Council is advising its centre-owning members to use a funding increase to pay teachers at least the new minimum rate, and use anything left over as they see fit, as required by the Ministry of Education.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has since said all the extra funding should be used to increase teacher wages, but the ECC understands this is an opinion, not a requirement.

ECC CEO Peter Reynolds said: “Teacher pay parity is crucial, but so is centre viability. With many providers already paying teachers above the minimum rate, it’s only fair the funding can be used for areas neglected after a decade of underfunding, like maintenance and education resources.”

“Accusations of centres lining pockets is insulting. Tell that to centres hanging on by the fingernails to survive. The funding was earmarked for bringing all teachers up at to the new minimum wage rate, and that will happen. Many will continue earning well over that rate,” said Mr Reynolds.

When the increased funding was announced on 21 May, the Ministry said “While the intention of the funding is to improve teacher salaries, services that already pay all their teachers above $49,862 are permitted to use the additional funding in other ways, should they choose – for example, on deferred maintenance or resources for children.”

“We’re still not clear if the increased funding will cover the cost of the new teacher wage rates for all our members. Any increase is welcome, but the confusion proves that to sort this out properly, all roads lead to a full review of our broken funding system,” said Mr Reynolds.

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