My name is Anna Ryder and I am owner, operator and qualified teacher at Ruru House, a new centre located in rural Lepperton, Taranki. Ruru House is licensed for 50 children: 20 under 2’s and 30 overs.
The centre is a big workload and sacrifice for my family. It is on huge grounds to care for and a large overhead is the building that we pay a market lease for. But I feel connected to the land on which Ruru House is built and feel a responsibility (kaitiaki) to ensure it is nurtured because I was born and raised on the land and reside next door with my husband and young son. I have had a vision for long time to be able to offer our extended family land as a place for discovery and learning. A base for children to foster a love of nature and that supports children to take healthy risks to develop their sense of self.
All up we have 11 teachers plus myself (qualified/registered teacher).
Teachers are paid above the attestation rate set by the Ministry of Education.
As well I employ one unqualified support teacher who covers sick leave and holidays and two home makers that cover the cooking of all meals and cleaning (we provide cloth nappies).
We have just gone through consultation on the government’s proposed 10-year Strategic Plan. There are some really good things in it, and one of those is ratios. But the problem is to do with pay parity for our teachers with teachers in kindergarten and primary and quality ratios for children.
While I am already paying my teachers above the rates set by the Ministry of Education for attestation, I would love to pay my teachers much more, they deserve more and no less than teachers in kindergartens and primary.
Funding is an issue because its based on minimum adult-child ratio. We have more teachers than the minimum ratio because ratios are set far too low for the safety of children and for quality ECE. Our ratios reduce the stress for teachers and on children but this increases the wage bill. If we dropped down to minimum ratios there would be more profit. The only way I could afford to pay an individual teacher more would be to reduce the number of staff which I’m not prepared for our children to do.
If you are a centre owner like myself who is living and working and breathing at the centre then you can stay on top of issues such as stress. I think we have a pretty good culture here at Ruru and I feel the staff are overall pretty happy but those kinds of things can only carry you for so long.
I believe that even with paying our teachers above the Ministry of Education attestation rate and providing good working conditions eventually we will have issues around retention if the attestation rates with funding specifically for teacher salaries doesn’t go up.
The teachers are only going to be able to earn this much for so long. So, salaries in the end will be a deciding factor for most of our teachers whether they stay in the ECE profession.