At a time when government policy is strongly focused on increasing children's participation in early childhood education, Christchurch is set to lose one of its early childhood education teacher training providers with the closure of Rangi Ruru Early Childhood Education College.
The city-based College has operated since 1985 and its closure will be an emotional event for many according to the ChildForum Early Childhood Network.
"The Rangi Ruru ECE College is a well-known institution serving the Canterbury region. It has provided teachers and nannies to early childhood services and families for nearly three decades and its closure will reduce options for people in the region wishing to learn about early childhood education", says Dr Sarah Farquhar of ChildForum.
Rangi Ruru principal Julie Moor said a cap on student numbers and the increasing cost of providing courses had contributed to the closure, which will involve the loss of 12 full-time equivalent jobs.
Student numbers at the college were capped at 66 by the government several years ago. A small increase was allowed giving the college leeway to have 83 students spread over three years, but Moor said it was hard to grow with the restrictions in place.
The early childhood education sector favouring teachers with degrees was also causing problems. The college offers Diplomas of Teaching, but Moor said early childhood education services were looking more for staff with degrees and the cost of setting up degree courses was expensive.
The college's teacher education programme will have a phased closure over two years to allow current students to finish their courses. New students will not be accepted next year, other than for the one-year NZ Certificate in Nanny Education providing suitable numbers enrolled.
The Certificate in Infant and Toddler Mental Health for qualified, registered early childhood teachers is still proposed for delivery by the College in 2013/14.