Staff without an early childhood education qualification to be responsible for early childhood centres

early childcare and education

UPDATE 23/12/2019:  In its newsletter to ECE services on 23rd December 2019 the ministry announced it has decided that the person responsible will no longer need to be ECE trained. Employers will be able to place primary qualified teachers in the person responsible position for the care of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, implementation of Te Whāriki and providing professional supervision and management of teaching staff. The change to the person responsible requirement will take effect on 9th January 2020.  
Read here about the new amendment regulations that are now in place allowing a primary trained teacher to be a person responsible and what the fish hooks are that you need to know.


Plan to allow staff without a recognised ECE qualification to be the person responsible 

On the request of the Early Childhood business Council (ECC), NZ Kindergartens, Montessori Assn, Te Rito Maioha and before the government releases its 10-Year-Strategic Plan, the Ministry of Education has indicated it will be changing requirements on who can be the person responsible in teacher-led centres.  

Designed to reduce staffing costs and give services more choice on staffing it intends to either:

  • Allow primary qualified teachers to be a person responsible for the first and last 1½ hours of the day, or
  • Allow primary qualified teachers to be a person responsible at all times.

The ministry is asking for views on the two above options, which can be submitted on its education conversations page by or before Sunday 20 Oct 2019.

Maintaining the status quo is not given as an option by the Ministry of Education in their consultation document. 

It also does not give the option of revoking the November 2010 decision to allow centres to use primary qualified teachers for funding purposes.

Since November 2010 when there was a teacher shortage, centres have been able to count primary qualified teachers for funding purposes. This was introduced as a temporary measure intended to increase teacher supply and ease pressure on centres. 

Loosening qualification requirements now to allow unqualified ECE teachers to be the person responsible sticks a band aid on the earlier band aid applied in November 2010, with a risk that it will make the shortage of teachers in the ECE sector worse. 

The real problem is a shortage of qualified ECE teachers. The best first step is not to loosen qualification requirements, but to extend equality of remuneration to all ECE teachers through funding pay parity with their kindergarten colleagues.

Potential outcomes of changing regulations to allow non-ECE qualified persons who are primary trained to be the person responsible include:

  1. Official endorsement of people without a specialist ECE teaching qualification as ((a) qualified to care for babies and toddlers and be in sole charge, and (b) advise and mentor qualified early childhood teachers and lead a staffing team.
  2. Persons who might otherwise train to be an early childhood teacher will see that doing a primary qualification will open up more opportunities, since a primary qualification will make no difference to employment in ECE and at the same time open up other future employment possibilities.
  3. A decrease in the proportion of qualified ECE teachers working in the ECE sector.
  4. Service providers who roster one teacher on only at the start and end of the day, can roster on a primary qualified teacher - meaning that 100% of teaching staff are not ECE qualified for at least part of the day that children attend.
  5. ‘Schoolification’ of early childhood programmes, impacting on pedagogy and what is considered best practice for the teaching, learning and care of babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children.

How can the Ministry entertain this idea, and show it is prepared to change regulations to loosen qualification requirements for staffing in ECE centres, when its motto is “We shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes”?  The research shows that excellence in ECE correlates directly with having teachers trained in early childhood development and learning and care.

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