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Generic or specific? Deciphering the New Zealand approach to professional standards for early childhood

Full reference
Zhang, Q. (2018). Generic or specific? Deciphering the New Zealand approach to professional standards for early childhood. NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 21(2), 59-70. Retrieved from

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Original Research Paper
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Generic or specific? Deciphering the New Zealand approach to professional standards for early childhood

Qilong Zhang
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, NZ


Internationally, there exist two disparate and contested approaches to professional standards for early childhood teachers: relying solely on generic professional standards that are shared across early childhood, primary, and secondary school sectors, and introducing standards specifically for early childhood teachers. Given the different effect of the two approaches and the inconsistency between jurisdictions in their approach, it is pertinent to examine why New Zealand (NZ) has chosen the generic approach. Data are collected through ‘dilemmatic expert interview’ with 15 experts from eight early childhood initial teacher education providers across NZ. Analysis of the data generates seven themes concerning reasons for the NZ approach: commonality, applicability, autonomy, remediableness, pay parity, status parity, and policy direction. These themes mirror the complex historical, social, and political roots of the generic approach that has long been preferred in NZ regardless of its limitations.

Key words: professional standards, early childhood teacher, New Zealand.


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