Facts don’t support fear of private early learning

16 July 2020

Calls to nationalise and further regulate one of the most regulated sectors in New Zealand is unrealistic and would reduce choice for parents, says the Early Childhood Council.

“We agree with Child Poverty Action Group that early learning is crucial in a child’s development, but nationalisation would take away much of our diversity and choice. Parents don’t want a one size fits all model,” says ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

“The current system allows for a wide range of cultural, community and philosophical options parents are happy to support now – the problem isn’t ownership, it’s funding.”

While much of CPAG’s report is based on overseas research, New Zealand’s own Education Review Office found ownership of early learning services have no bearing on the learning outcomes.

The tired line that private centres are out to fill their pockets is insulting to the thousands of dedicated New Zealand small business owners up and down the country. 30% of the ECC’s 1,300 member centres are community owned. Of the remaining 70%, 80% are owned and run by teachers. The problem CPAG is trying to solve doesn’t exist.

“All centres must be mindful of their bottom line, especially in the COVID-19 environment. Profitability keeps the doors open, it’s not a dirty word. Centres rely heavily on word of mouth for enrolments – if an operator is pre-occupied with just making money, they won’t last,” said Mr Reynolds.

“Equity is in providing all ECE services with the same resources and holding them up to the same set of rules, not reducing choice for parents. Nationalisation offers nothing different to quality and risks losing the very things that matter most to parents. The current funding model is causing many of the issues raised by CPAG – that’ s what should be fixed, not ownership.”

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