ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
National membership 

Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


Saying goodbye to election promises of funding for 100% qualified teachers

money lossFunding for 100% qualified teachers is almost certain to not happen within the coming year and not even before the next election.   

This will come as a huge disappointment to everyone who voted for a change in government and believed in the election promises of Labour, NZ First and the Greens.  All three parties campaigned on the promise of support for 100% qualified ECE teachers and Labour also promised to lift the current legal requirement from 50% to 80%.

What indicates this?

A role of the Ministry of Education is to shape the direction for early childhood service providers and inform the government’s goals for ECE.

What the ministry has signaled it wants to do is keep wages in our sector low by bringing in cheap migrant labour to meet demand by for-profit childcare providers for 'suitable' staff.

It wants early childhood teaching to be added to the Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) list so ECE service providers do not have to show that there were no suitable NZ applicants and can bypass visa requirements.

And this has to happen as soon as possible because:

  • The kindergarten teachers’ collective agreement expires in May 2019, and the ministry will be keen to support the government to drive down teacher wage claims and reduce the possibility of strikes and stop-work meetings.
  • The ECEA collective agreement ran out on 15 August 2018 and should employers who are party to this agreement agree to increase wages, it will obligate the Ministry to increase the minimum wage that all services on higher funding must pay all qualified staff, costing the government money.

So staffing solutions will come from overseas, not from funding for 100% qualified teachers and requiring service providers to raise wages for teachers here. 

Immigration NZ is seeking submissions on early childhood teachers being included on the Essential Skills in Demand List. The closing date is 9 November 2018.  See more


According to Immigration NZ:

  • The mean salary of an early childhood teacher is $40,681.00. 
  • There is moderate evidence that we have people in NZ to fill current vacancies.  National data on people available to work or train suggests that there are 449 suitable jobseekers available to fill vacancies within this occupation. 
  • There is weak evidence of demand. The number of online advertisements placed for vacancies in early childhood teaching in the year to June 2018 decreased by 7% from that for the previous year.
  • From 2016-2026 the number of ECE staff is expected to grow by 1.7% per annum
  • Because it takes 3 to 4 years to train a teacher there is moderate evidence of the need to open up NZ to immigrant teachers.
  • There is no consideration of how to improve retention of current teachers nor how to attract back qualified teachers who have left the profession or chosen that they can’t afford to teach for financial reasons such as a mortgage or student loans to pay back.

See also an article on NZ teacher pay scales and conditions of work information

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