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This week's newsletter mainly focuses on government policy and funding for the ECE sector - we list below some articles and information you may be interested in reading about (and other topics and issues are available from the policy section of our website click here). Also we bring you ideas for encouraging children's science learning, a link to a listing of completed NZ Master and Doctoral Theses, and the weekly roundup of interesting items of international news.
- Government Budget 2012, Pre-Announcements for Early Childhood Education
- Small Group-Size (Class Size) - Is it Not Also Important for Young Children?
- 80% Qualified Teacher Target and Loss of Funding to Services
- Indoor Science Ideas - Plant Growing
- Directory of Unpublished Master and Doctoral Theses
- International News Headlines for this Week
1. Government Budget 2012, Pre-Announcements for Early Childhood Education
The National Government releases its latest budget on Thursday (May 24th), however there is not likely to be much extra funding for early childhood education above that which has already been announced.
There is probably little point in speculating what might or might not be in the 2012 Government Budget. For early childcare and education, the Budget is unlikely to indicate much more spending on top of what has already been signalled. All we possibly may see is the actual numbers and more detail.
Pre Budget statements have indicated that the Budget will include $80 million over four years for early childhood education and a guaranteed childcare assistance payment to help solo parents get back to work. This money has been reprioritised from the welfare sector and is designed to increase the number of solo parents working rather than claiming benefits.
The biggest challenge for the ECE sector is how to make the most of this money and how to respond to the needs of single parents who may have different childcare needs to two-parent families. For example, they may do shift work or may only need childcare for a few hours a week while they are in training or education. The focus on getting single parents, usually mothers back to work may also benefit ECE services looking to expand their home-based care business, as many single mothers may be interested in the flexibility of earning while caring for their own child and each other's children.
The Government has also signalled that it intends to target certain areas to increase participation in ECE, focusing on Maori, Pasifika and low-income families. Education Minister Hekia Parata has said early childhood education is important for children to get an educational head-start and the focus on increasing participation in certain areas is part of the Government’s wider target of having 98% of all children participating in ECE by 2016.
The rest of the Education Budget is likely to focus on school age children with the minister signalling that the focus will be on raising teacher standards and changing pay structures to reflect performance as well as changing class sizes and raising school children’s achievement. A further $60 million over the next four years has already been allocated to boost new teacher and leadership training.
While the Budget may not offer all the funding that the ECE sector expects, it is likely to offer a clearer picture of where the funding for targeting low participation areas will come from and how this will affect funding for other areas of ECE.
Arwen Hann will cover the Budget release for ChildForum and full information and analysis will be available on the ChildForum website.
* READ MORE: Leading News and Analysis
2. Is Small Group-Size (Class Size) Important? And Should It be a Legal Requirement?
Licence size is the total of the number of children a centre can have on the premises for the purposes of care and education at any one time.
Group size (also called class size) is the specific number of children grouped together within a facility who interact together with the same teacher/s in a specially assigned space or classroom.
While the Education Minister has affirmed in pre-budget announcements for Education that class size for 5-year-old school new entrants remains capped at 15, in early childhood education there is no limitation on class size. Last year regulations were changed without consultation to enable early childhood centres to extend licences from 50 to 150 children. No regulation for class/group size was introduced at the time and no funding incentives are provided to support services to limit class/group size to that which evidence shows to be linked to quality educational, health, and social outcomes for children.
* READ MORE AND GIVE YOUR VIEW: Should Maximum Class/Group Sizes Be Introduced into Early Childhood Education?
3. 80% Qualified Teacher Target and Loss of Funding to Services
Earlier ChildForum published an article on perspectives and likely consequences of cutbacks in funding to teacher-led early childhood centres whose employment practices were to recruit and maintain 80 - 100% qualified/registered teachers.
You will remember that the National Government under the former Minister Anne Tolley gave a commitment to the target of achieving 80% qualified/registered teachers across the teacher-led part of the ECE sector, although the target was delayed for a couple of years until 2012. It is now 2012. The teacher supply problem has eased and a lack of qualified/registered teachers can no longer be used as a rationale on its own for not confirming the 80% target rate.
No announcement as to whether the target will be regulated has been made by the Education Minister yet. However, this is something that ECE lobby groups could be expected to really begin to put pressure on the Government about before the end of the year.
* READ MORE AND HAVE YOUR SAY: Funding Cutbacks and the Qualified/Registered Teacher Target
4. Indoor Science Ideas - Plant Growing
Here are 7 ideas for how to do some fun growing activities and keep children busy. Activities include an onion person, a Humpty Dumpty potato or swede, an egg shell garden, wheat people and more.
Young children will be able to do many of these growing activities themselves - they just need you to provide the bits and pieces and to provide a model to look at and follow.
The activities can be turned easily into science projects if you discuss and keep records of plant growth, feeding, and maintenance.
A couple of the projects also make suitable 'living' presents for children to pass on to special friends and family members or take to give to their teacher at kindergarten, childcare or home-based care.
5. Directory of Unpublished Master and Doctoral Theses
Two directories, one for NZ Masterate studies and one for Doctoral studies are provided on the ChildForum website. They show the range and depth of investigations completed in New Zealand in areas of early childcare and education.
When you are searching for information on a particular early childhood topic this is a bibliography of (often) non-published research that cannot easily be found elsewhere.
* READ MORE: NZ Research Theses Directories
6. International News Headlines for this Week
Click on the title for the news article below that you are interested in reading more about:
- Childcare & Kindergarten Teachers Require Special Skill Set if They are to Help Children be Successful Later at School
- Strength of Emotional Attachments during Early Years Predicts if a Child Will Put on Excessive Weight in Later Years
- Why Chores and Being a Helper is Good For Children in Early Childhood Education Centres and at Home
- Breastfeeding, Sleep, Healthy Food and No TV in the Bedroom - What Do These Things Have in Common for Childcare/ECE Services and Caregivers?
- Update on Politics and Funding of Free Early Childhood Education in Scotland
See our website at www.childforum.com to learn more about childcare, teaching, ECE service management, research and education policy, and add your comments and views.
No responsibility is taken for any errors. If you spot an error please inform us so that it can be corrected.
Write to: ChildForum, PO Box 58-078, Porirua 5245, NEW ZEALAND
Update on Politics and Funding of Free Early Childhood Education in Scotland (2 matches)
Teaching Children about Competition and to Want to Achieve (1 match)
Shakespeare and Superheroes: Boys and Underachievement (1 match)
Scaring Single Parents on the DPB About a Lack of Quality Childcare (1 match)
Being Informed - for the week of 28th May 2012 (1 match)