ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
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Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


Minister extends ECE pay parity coverage

ECE Teacher Pay Parity Poster pay discrimination small sizeThe Education and Training Act 2020 extended pay parity for qualified teaching staff to more education and care centres when it came into force on 1 August 2020.

Pay parity advocate David Haynes said “modestly, and surprisingly in an election year, the Minister of Education has not sought to gain political capital from this visionary move.”

The Education and Training Act 2020 contains a definition of ‘free kindergarten’ which includes education and care centres run by ‘free kindergarten associations’. 

"These education and care centres do not need to change their names, the law now says that they are to be treated as ‘free kindergartens’ no matter what they are called.  This definition used to be in a part of the old Education Act that applied only to teacher registration matters, but Minister Hipkins has moved it so that it applies to the whole new Act” said Mr Haynes.

The definition in the new Act extends State sector coverage to teachers at all ECE centres owned by ‘free kindergarten associations’ and these centres can expect to be funded at 'kindergarten' rates that contain the salary component for pay parity.

Coverage extends to associations whose name contains the exact phrase ‘free kindergarten association'. 

“You can’t pretend to be a ‘free kindergarten association’ if those exact words are not in your legal name, otherwise any organisation could claim to be one.  If that had been intended, the law would have been written a different way,” said Mr Haynes

The Ministry of Education has confirmed that 16 of the 29 associations it classifies as kindergarten associations are legally called ‘free kindergarten associations’. 

Mr Haynes argued that it is not the role of the Ministry to interpret the law differently to what it is: "They can’t choose who is and who isn’t a ‘free kindergarten association’.  The law is the law."

“I would recommend that the 13 associations not currently called ‘free kindergarten associations', but currently receiving the ‘kindergarten’ level of funding immediately change their names, not just to benefit their education and care centre teachers, but because I suspect that those 13 associations not currently called ‘free’ actually now don’t legally qualify for the ‘kindergarten’ level of funding at all. I think they may need a good lawyer.”

Can every teacher-led centre (for-profit and non-profit) achieve ‘kindergarten’ funding rates? For a more detailed discussion and to learn how see David Haynes’ paper here.


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