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Centralised payment of ECE teacher wages and integrated state ECE services: NZEI

making noise for ECE teacher pay parity

Only around 13% of qualified teachers in teacher-led services have pay parity with primary (you can find what the new unified salary scale is - click here)

But what of the remaining 87% of early childhood teachers?

An online petition started by teacher James Lochead-MacMillan asks for pay parity for all teachers in ECE. Specifically it asks also for the Ministry of Education to seriously lift the attestation rates it requires service providers to pay in return for extra funding to help meet the cost of employing qualified and certificated teachers. 

The petition has already attracted the support of nearly 9,000 people. (see and sign the petition here)

There is no reason why the ministry’s salary attestation levels should not be increased as asked for in the petition and changed to be on par with the Kindergarten Teachers’ Collective Agreement. The Ministry is directly involved in negotiating the KTCA and all ECE teachers including those covered by the KTCA are required to meet similar training levels and the same standards for teacher certification. (find out more on this topic)

Such an increase to the attestation rates will necessitate more funding to maintain wage affordability for service providers and maintain and increase the proportion of qualified and certificated teachers employed in the sector.

Attestation for higher funding rates was not actually designed through for the purpose of achieving pay parity.  It is a mechanism for service provider accountability. Therefore, the government also needs to look at who pays ECE teachers.

NZEI secretary Paul Goulter supports centralisation of the payment of teacher wages.

“Services should be able to elect to enter into a public ECE system and through that become parties to a public provision collective agreement. Part of entering into that system would be a guarantee of centralised payment of teacher wages as in the compulsory sector,” he said.

However, the Ministry of Education has stated that:

"directly paying the salaries of all teachers needed for ratios would be a significant shift in policy. It would entail a system where government covers a higher proportion of the cost of ECE and for more than 30 hours per week per child. In addition, ECE is provided by a mix of community-owned and private organisations which operate independently of government”. (source: 20 Funding Questions We Asked)

While the ministry is hiding behind the current funding system, Minister Chris Hipkins wants to see the establishment of new public ECE services, achieve 100% qualified teachers in all teacher-led services and increase government influence on the ECE market to curb the trend toward privatisation.  

NZEI’s Paul Goulter would like to see such changes too.

“The employment of teachers in ECE needs to be stabilised and regularised along the lines of the compulsory sector’, Paul Goulter said.

The integrated schools model successful in the compulsory sector is one that could be adopted for ECE. It would allow private ECE services that do not wish to integrate for the purpose of funding and support to develop along the lines of private schools in NZ as elite education.

The private sector in ECE is in general not working for ECE teachers as it should. 

A post placed on ChildForum’s Facebook page by Marisa reads: “Secondary privately-owned school = Teachers paid more than public sector. Primary privately-owned school = Teachers paid more than public sector. ECE privately owned centre = Teachers paid less than public sector. Therefore, private sector not working for ECE teachers.”

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