ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
National membership 

Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


Staff Pay and Workforce Retention: Results from the 2020 Early Childhood Education National Survey - Q6: How does pay compare between service types?

Article Index


Substantial variation in staff pay was found between different ECE services. The chart below shows that the average wage was $32.89 an hour in kindergarten, $32.69 in hospital-based ECE, $27.60 in home-based ECE, $26.38 in early childcare centres, and $24.47 in playcentre. Kindergarten and hospital-based ECE had the highest average hourly pay rates and playcentre had the lowest.

Note that: teaching staff in hospital-based ECE are paid from District Health Board budgets (with application of the Allied and Public Health Salary Scale to teaching/ hospital play specialist positions). This may help to explain why the pay of hospital-based ECE staff was at a similar level to kindergarten staff and therefore higher than staff in other teacher-led early childcare centres.

different services

A $1.22 difference in the average hourly wage was found between home-based and early childcare centre staff. This probably reflects that most home-based ECE employees had management and co-ordination responsibilities and/ or were visiting teachers whereas the early childcare centre staff also included people who cared for and taught children but were not responsible for supervising other staff or managing programmes.

The graph below shows that staff commitment to their job was strongest in kindergarten and hospital-based ECE – both also being the groups that offered higher levels of pay to their teaching staff (as shown in the graph above).

 job change by service

Of the staff in the kindergarten and hospital-based groups who were looking to leave, pay was not given as a reason. But low pay was a reason for leaving among home-based and other teacher-led early childcare centre staff. (Please refer to Question 10 later in this report for further data and discussion on staff employment intentions). 

The results show that the category of service people work in makes a significant difference to what they may be paid. Given the differential pay situation, it is unsurprising that home-based and early childcare centre service teaching staff are more likely to want to quit their jobs.

The data here identify a problem for which an effective solution is needed.  It seems strange that people can be worse off or better off in pay even though their job of providing early childhood education and care is identical and teaching qualification requirements are identical for all licensed services, bar parent-led services (playcentre employees however may also hold teaching qualifications to Level 7 or higher on the NZQA framework).

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