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Children's participation in quality early childhood education and care is valued as important but is all early childhood education quality?
A decade and more ago people such as Prof Anne B Smith, Dr Sarah Alexander, and Dr Anne Meade did a lot of work on defining quality and looking at the effects of quality on children, and Dr Alexander as our CEO continues to share her expertise with our sector and update information. Research, information and guidance on quality is available so we don't have to reinvent the wheel to know what quality is and what needs to be done. But we do need to be talking quality and walking the talk!
We are delighted that interest in transparency and accountability is now finally emerging. Indeed there have been lots of positive signs just recently that both the Ministry of Education and our sector are moving in this direction. For example, the Ministry has now published a summary report of complaints made against ECE services in 2017 (learn more about the complaints data)
This week's newsletter contains a number of news items and thought-provoking pieces around this topic. But before you start checking out the items below - we need to tell you about a Poll that asks:
To vote go to the poll on our ChildForum Facebook page Every vote counts to show what the employment situation is like right now.
In this week's newsletter
- Names of early childhood services known to have breached minimum standards
- Names of teachers who breached professional standards
- Strengthening the Ministry of Education's job to enforce regulations and requirements
- Key minimum standards vs. quality standards
- Plain English guide to minimum standards for centres
- Free printable booklet on choosing quality ECE to give to parents visiting your service
- Self-review: tips for working smarter not harder for best practice
1. Names of early childhood services known to have breached minimum licensing standards
The names of early childhood services are on the My ECE parents' free consumer website that in 2016 or 2017:
- were put on notice by the Ministry of Education for failure to meet one or more minimum standards (licence was reclassified by the Ministry as provisional until compliance reached),
- were closed by the Ministry of Education because of non-compliance,
- or, had an Education Review Office confirmed report noting an area or areas of non-compliance.
2. Names of teachers who breached professional standards
The Education Council often names teachers found by its disciplinary tribunal to have breached professional standards. Recent rulings reported in the media include:
- A teacher pulled the hair of four boys who had pulled plants from the centre's garden. A teacher smacked, dragged and force-fed a child, and swore around children. A teacher manhandled a child with Down Syndrome. Another pushed a "challenging" child to a seated position on the ground and pulled him back up by his arm.
- A teacher took toys from the kindergarten
Examples of two cases when name suppression was granted
- A "distressed" early childcare teacher was censured for serious misconduct after immobilising a child while trying to get her to sleep
- An early childhood teacher was censured for "serious misconduct" after asking a 2-year-old child to bite the finger of another
3. Strengthening the Ministry of Education's job to enforce regulations
"In the Education Ministry we place our trust to enforce ECE minimum standards and practices but it is letting us down.
"What we are seeing now is that regulations alone are not enough to protect children’s health and safety and prevent or reduce exploitation.
"Monitoring and enforcement are important and the Ministry of Education needs to have more staffing and resources to do this.
"Community-based services with parent involvement or that rely on volunteers can be pulled up by ERO for things such as not doing regular staff appraisals, which suggests no intention to breach regulations but rather a need for support."
4. Key minimum standards vs. quality standards
Research on quality has focused on four structural features of the early childhood setting that are typically controlled through regulation. These are: group size (translated in some ECE settings as class size), trained staff, adult to child ratio, and the amount of space per child.
5. Plain English guide to minimum standards for centres
If you need a quick answer on what might be the requirements say for staffing or heating, or if you haven't got time to go through and understand the legislation and ministry licencing requirements there is help in the form of a plain English guide.
6. Free printable booklet on choosing quality ECE
This is ideal to print out and include in information packs and give to parents enquiring about early childcare and options.
7. Self-review: tips for working smarter not harder for best practice
"Early childhood teachers are very familiar with change and new expectations. We’re a very adaptive species.
"However, we have a tendency to just add on the new task, rather than look to see how it can be incorporated with existing tasks – or even replace some of them.
"This article is about working more effectively, rather than behaving like pack-horses and adding more burdens as they plod onward, up the hill."
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