Government keeps missing teacher pay parity moving target

10 September 2020

The Early Childhood Council is warning the government’s approach to achieving early learning teacher pay parity is failing to hit a moving target, when a full review of the Early Childhood Education funding model is required.

The Minister of Education has signalled pay parity will take multiple budgets, but the long term plan is unclear.

To achieve this goal, the government could reduce or freeze primary and kindergarten pay rates, while in investing in non-kindergarten early learning to lift it to the same level.

“We’re concerned that with primary teacher pay rates increasing every year, bringing kindergarten pay with it, we’ll get trapped in an endless game of snakes and ladders,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

“It just highlights the utterly broken funding model. The risk for most centres is that they’re continually dipping into their pockets to make this pay parity strategy work. That has implications for parent fees and service affordability, as centres were and remain underfunded,” said Mr Reynolds.

“We have received the Minister's first contribution toward teacher pay parity with a 3.9% increase in funding to help the lowest paid teachers. But thanks to increases also agreed for kindergartens, they’ll still be 16.44% better off by January 2021. That’s not a recipe for parity.”

The ECC has long advocated a review of the ECE funding model. Political parties on all sides are calling for early learning affordability for parents. Ultimately, that depends on simplifying and introducing efficiencies to the ECE funding model, with incentives to drive quality to make sure we’re doing the best for over 200,000 New Zealand pre-schoolers.

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