By Sarah Alexander
"Charters: The Great Disappointment in Early Childhood Services" Published in the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 1996.
A study of people's experiences of chartering in nine kindergartens, playcentres and childcare centres was carried out between 1989 and 1990. A follow-up of the same centres was carried out in 1993.
From the beginning of 1990 all nine centres had commenced work on areas within the Ministry of Education's charter guidelines, even on areas that proved to be difficult and highly contentious. Teachers and managers were sharing their views and opinions on ways to improve centre quality and they were also making significant effort to consult and involve parents.
Charters started to lose credibility early when centres noted that the different education agencies were not always in agreement on what should be in charters. Credibility was further reduced at the end of 1990 when centres learned that the Ministry of Education were yet to approve charters despite centres rushing to complete them by an initial 1 July 1990 deadline.
Charter changes came in with a change of government from Labour to National at the end of 1990. These changes nullified the progress centres had started to make in developing policies and practices of higher quality, and consulting with parents.
At the end of 1993 all nine centres continued to view the charter primarily as a bureaucratic requirement.
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