Government's New Early Learning Action Plan – Why is there not more excitement about it?

thinkingWhen you have responsibility for something and don’t want to do anything, what do you do? Say you will develop a plan!

First, give your ideas to a committee and send these people away to write it. Then consult on the plan. After consultation, its back to the committee or maybe your department staff for some tweaking. Maybe repeat the last two steps to finalise the plan. Then sit on it for a while and release it a time of year when most people are too busy to really read and think much about it.

Today, 4th December 2019 Government’s plan for early childhood education was released.  It comes two years after Hon Chris Hipkins became Minister of Education and after nine years in opposition.

From the outset the idea was to go back in time and do something similar to “Pathways to the Future”.  However, “He taonga te tamaiti – Every child a taonga: Early learning action plan 2019-2029” just doesn’t seem to provoke  the same level of excitement in our sector as “Pathways to the Future” did.

It will take time to implement the Plan.  But harm is being caused by early childhood teachers being taken advantage of today. The Government applied pay parity for kindergarten and school teachers in just a few months.  Failing to extend this to all other teachers in publicly funded ECE makes it appear that it does not care enough about these teachers and the quality of ECE.

Chris Hipkins confirmed that getting children to spend more hours in a day in ECE continued to be a key goal: “More children attending early learning for longer hours is encouraging.”

The Plan has a focus on increasing children’s participation, particularly Māori and Pacific children, and children in lower socio-economic areas.

There is no funding provided for implementation of the Plan.  Implementation will depend on Cabinet agreement and approval of spending on each bit of the Plan.  

Expect to see more public consultation before any changes, especially to regulations are made.

But hey it’s a plan!  It’s good to see it out – would you agree?  What are your thoughts?


Pre the 2017 General Election the Labour Party Promised that if it were elected in it would: 

  • Reinstate extra funding for ECE centres that employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers.
  • Require all ECE centres to employ at least 80 per cent qualified teachers by the end of the first term in government.
  • Actively support establishing new public early childhood centres in areas of low-provision through targeted establishment grants and only provide taxpayer subsidies for new centres if there is an established need in the proposed location
  • Boost support for parent-led early childhood services such as Playcentre and Kohanga Reo, including funding to increase participation
  • Investigate creating a smoother pathway from parent teacher qualifications (eg, Playcentre qualifications) to initial teacher education programmes
  • Undertake a review of home-based, including investigating the introduction of minimum qualification levels for all home-based educators
  • Develop a network of high quality centre-based early intervention programmes addressing the needs of vulnerable children in the most deprived areas
  • Work to improve group size and teacher:child ratios for infants and toddlers
  • Progressively increase the level of funding provided for early intervention in ECE to better support those with identified additional needs
  • Support and lift the quality of ECE service provision with a focus initially on providers who predominantly enrol Pacific children
  • Ensure a dedicated professional development programme is developed and implemented for ECE staff who predominantly serve Pacific kids
  • Put the “free” back into the policy of 20 hours free ECE
  • Work with parents, teachers, and stakeholders to develop a second version of Nga Huarahi Arataki – Pathways to the Future, a 10 year strategic plan for early childhood education

Read through the above list and check off what promises Labour has fulfilled and what it yet needs to achieve before the election next year. 


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