Requirements around the ‘person responsible’ (PR) regulation are currently under review by the Ministry of Education, as part of its ECE Regulatory Review process.
Please note that the following information was first produced as a draft (14 June 2021) and shared with Service Provider and Educator/individual members of our organisation for their feedback. The draft was reviewed and a final copy produced on 17 June 2021 which we are now sharing with everyone to read and give their view on the PR requirement.
Article explaining what you need to know
The following article explains what changes/ improvements are possible and needed, and identifies three issues arising from the Ministry's review that ought to also be addressed as part of it.
If you are not sure what the current regulatory requirements are for the PR at your type of service, you can find this information at the end of the article.
Give your feedback
Your input into what the changes should/ should not be would be much appreciated.
After reading the information provided on this page - please give your views by going to a 3 minute survey at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PersonResponsible
A short report on the feedback will be compiled and shared to help to inform regulation changes around the Person Responsible requirement.
About the Person Responsible and the PR Role
Service Providers must ensure there is 1 person responsible for every 50 children. In centres, the PR is a person who is directly involved in the day-to-care care of children. In home-based services the PR is the service co-ordinator.
The PR oversees the care and education of children and ensures their wellbeing. The PR therefore also watches over the adults providing the care and education, advising, and directing as and when necessary for the best outcomes for children. (The role of the PR is perhaps analogous to the role of the ‘sober driver’ – the role of the PR is to make sure that the law is obeyed and the group stays safe, well, has a good experience and achieves the outcomes desired.)
While ultimate responsibility for compliance with regulations sits with the Service Provider, the PR is the person on the ground who is actively looking out for participants, supervising participants, and helping to ensure that legal requirements are met - and informing the Service Provider (or manager who in turn informs the service provider) if there are any problems.
The designated PR may change over the course of any day, depending on the length of time that a service is open and staff rosters, thereby ensuring that there is always a PR.
In services with a small licence number, the PR is often also the service manager (should this person be qualified) or head teacher.
It is important that the PR holds an appropriate early childhood specialist qualification because infants and young children do not have a voice. This age group is most vulnerable and the quality of the ECE service affects child outcomes. At present, it is not required for the PR in teacher-led education and care/ kindergarten centres to hold a recognised ECE qualification.
ECE teachers are trained and qualified in many things that primary and secondary teachers have little or no training in, for example:
- The care and health needs of babies, toddlers, and young children.
- Early childhood development.
- Theories of early learning.
- ECE curriculum content and delivery.
- Assessment of learning appropriate to infants and young children.
- Fostering partnership and working with parents, family and whānau.
- Early language acquisition.
- Encouraging development of early positive pro-social behaviours.
- The ECE regulations and licensing criteria.
Five Improvements that Need to be Made to the PR Requirement
1. At centres, the name of the designated PR must be displayed at all times at the centre’s front entrance. At home-based services the name of the PR must be communicated to all parents/families and educators.
2. At all services the Service Provider must ensure that the person/s designated to be the PR is fit to perform the role. Persons Responsible are those who:
- Are well informed/ adequately inducted on the role and responsibilities of the position.
- Know and understand the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations and the licensing criteria relevant to their type of service.
- Are competent to carry out of the role and responsibilities of the PR.
3. At education and care/ kindergarten centres the designated PR must be ECE qualified. This would ensure that when children are attending there would always be at least one member of teaching staff present who has completed a recognised course of specialist training in early childhood care and education for working in an ECE setting. But at present this is not the case.
The Education Minister pushed through a change of regulation to temporarily allow teachers qualified to teach children aged 5 to 12 years in school classrooms to be the PR in ECE centres. The Minister said: “I only intend for this to be a temporary change to help with teacher supply (Cabinet paper). This decision needs to be reversed to:
- Bring the training/qualification requirement for education and care centres back up to the same level as home-based and hospital-based services who are required to have a PR who is ECE trained and qualified.
- Support the Education Minister’s Early Learning Action Plan (2019) focus on improving the quality of ECE in New Zealand.
- Build on the direction created by the Meade report (Education to Be More 1988) to increase the supply of skilled persons who are ECE qualified teachers.
4. At all teacher-led services the PR must be a person who meets the code and standards expected of the teaching profession as evidenced by holding a current full practising certificate.
5. At all licensed services the PR must hold a current First Aid Qualification.
Issues Arising That Also Need to be Addressed
The number of PRs should reflect how the environment is organised
It is not clear in the regulations that one PR to every 50 children is the maximum number of children but not the minimum. The number of children should be adjusted down to reflect the layout of the centre and the ease with which the PR can supervise children and adults. For example, in a service with two rooms of 20 children it could be most practicable and essential to have a PR in each room.
There needs to be a regulatory statement on 'supervision' - what supervision means, and if supervision of children must be provided at all times they are in the care of the service
‘Supervision’ is not defined in the regulations (Clause 3 Interpretation). Moreover, there is no explicitly stated requirement that the adults providing care and education who are not the PR must supervise children at times, other than when they are eating.
Therefore, the absence of a definition and regulatory statement concerning supervision means that the adult-child ratio is usually cited as the measure of whether children are adequately supervised or not (- when serious injury incidents involving children are unseen, or are claimed to be unseen, only the adult-child ratio at the time of the incident is assessed. The quality or standard of supervision does not come into a compliance investigation, and neither does whether the Service Provider has ensured adults are skilled in supervision and are able to apply those skills in the setting of the service).
It needs to be clarified if the PR is counted as being inside or outside of Ratio. The benefits and disadvantaged of either option need to be assessed
At present the PR is not specifically prohibited from being counted as an adult within the adult-child ratio for the purpose of meeting the adult-child requirement. However, as the PR must supervise the staff who are providing education and care for children, and as the PR cannot supervise themselves, the Regulations could be interpreted as meaning that the PR cannot currently be counted in ratio.
When the PR position is counted as being outside of the minimum adult-child ratio count this person is then free to assume the position of a float and not be tied to any specific duties such as being on nappy changing duty. The current regulation states that the Service Provider must ensure that the PR supervises “all children present and the adults providing education and care who supervise them.” Counting the PR within ratio, can render the PR, unable to provide adequate supervision of teaching staff and children especially at the busiest times of day. Some Service Providers may place only 1 staff member on opening and closing the centre. If the PR is counted outside of ratio then this would guarantee that there would always be at least 2 staff on opening and closing times, which is a best practice for both staff and child safety.
The Current PR Regulatory Requirements
The person responsible means “1 or more persons nominated for the purpose by the service provider; being persons who are directly involved in, and primarily responsible for, the day-to-day education and care, comfort, and health and safety of the children.” (Regs: Clause 3 Interpretation)
When children leave the premises on a regular or special excursion, the excursion must be approved by the Person Responsible.
“The person responsible is the co-ordinator and has primary responsibility for overseeing the education and care, comfort, and health and safety of the children; and providing professional leadership and support to educators within the service.” (Regs: Clause 3).
The PR must:
- “Contact each educator engaged in the service at least once per fortnight
- “Visit each educator engaged in the service at least once per month
- “Take all reasonable steps each month to observe each child participating in the service while that child is receiving education and care.” (Regs, 28(2)(a-c)
The PR means “the person or persons who have primary responsibility for the education of children participating in the service; and ensuring supervision of children in the activity room used as part of the service; and support the health and safety and care of the children."
Give your views and help to inform the regulatory review on the PR requirement by going to a 3 minute survey at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PersonResponsible