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Freezing cold early childhood centre – saving centre power bill comes before children

coldsBy a qualified certificated New Zealand ECE teacher (name withheld)

Opinion article

As a teacher I never thought I would find myself having to fight for children’s right to stay warm in their centre in winter.

When I became an early childhood education teacher I thought of all the fun learning experiences I could provide for tamariki. But time for this starts to take a back seat when it’s too cold for children and management is not worried about the centre not meeting regulations for room temperature every day.

Nine times out of 10 when we have the heating on management walk in and turn the heat pump off.

We are told: "I don’t want another high power bill" or given reasons such as "its 9 am and there are enough bodies in the room" (despite the room sitting at around 10 degrees and the staff wearing puffer jackets and scarves inside!).

Keeping children and staff warm takes second place to the owner saving money. It is an issue that I don’t believe the Ministry of Education can do anything about to substantiate complaints unless it visited unannounced when the owner is present and the heating is off - or unless the Ministry actually talked to staff and gave us protection to whistle blow.

I have now resigned from my job because management would not respond to complaints and would not budge on this issue.

If I continued to care for children under these conditions then I was condoning this bad practice. I felt I was not living up to my professional responsibility as a teacher and I didn’t want to be another unhappy staff member who carried on working in these poor conditions because it was "a job" and better than not having a job.

MANAAKITANGA: creating a welcoming, caring and creative learning environment that treats everyone with respect and dignity. (Our Code, Our Standards: Education Council of Aotearoa requirements for the behaviour of teachers holding a practising certificate)

I have stood up to management and said that what is going on is not right. I want to see children get quality care and education within a warm, learning environment. They are entitled to this and at the end of the day a price should not be put children’s health

We all have a professional responsibility to speak up and not accept bad practice.

I hope by writing about my experience that you may feel encouraged not to stay silent.  

Should you see or know of something that is not right for children at an early childhood service please speak up.

 

Further Information - Regulations

All licensed early childhood services must have the temperature safely and effectively kept above 16 degrees at 500mm above the floor while children are attending. Indoor temperature may be naturally are artificially controlled.

 

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