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Removing socio-economic barriers to participation in early childhood education: Is current policy in Aotearoa New Zealand effective?

nzrece journalOriginal Policy Paper
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Full reference
Postlewaight, G. (2016). Removing socio-economic barriers to participation in early childhood education: Is current policy in Aotearoa New Zealand effective? NZ Research in ECE Journal, Special Issue: Equality and Diversity, 19, 46 - 60. Retrieved from


Removing socio-economic barriers to participation in early childhood education: Is current policy in Aotearoa New Zealand effective?

Gillian Postlewaight
Eastern Institute of Technology, NZ



Positive outcomes for children from low socio-economic families are increased through their participation in quality early childhood education (ECE) programmes (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2011). Present Government policies and initiatives in New Zealand focus predominantly on increasing participation as a long term solution to equitable access to education. Such a one dimensional solution does not address the underlying barriers that hinder participation for children in poverty. Through the examination of current research, aspects of equal importance to access and participation that were central to Pathways to the future: Ngā Huarahi Arataki, a 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2002) are identified and discussed. Specifically, the goals to: “increase participation in quality in ECE services, improve quality of ECE services and promote collaborative relationships” (MoE, 2002, p.3) are considered in relation to past and current policy. This position paper offers for deliberation an alternative cohesive solution to break down the barriers of access to ECE. A holistic, wraparound approach for families in poverty that includes health, well-being and education is presented as an equitable way forward.

Key words: Barriers to participation; equitable outcomes; socio-economic; policy; poverty.

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Who is this for?
Teachers, Caregivers, Teacher Educators, Policy Advisors - any indivdual with an interest in ECE

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Centres, home-based, hospital-based, playgroups ... established or newly licensed.

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