In the past week a business lobby group (the Early Childhood Council) was promoted by the media as representing our sector - which it does not. Were it not for signs from the Ministry of Education suggesting it supports the ECC and the silence of Minister Chris Hipkins concerning its crazy/ harmful ideas on a shortage of teachers, it would not matter.
We take a closer look at this, and bring you facts and opinion.
1. Get the Facts on the Teacher Shortage
- Is it true as TVNZ reports that an 'expert' says a survey found a third of centres can’t fill staff vacancies? That there is a need to reduce the number of teachers to children? That it is fine to drop the quality of care and education for children? That we need to open up a whole new system of exploitation of migrants and replace kiwi teachers with cheaper/ compliant migrants?
- How are centres doing when it comes to meeting legal requirements for qualified teachers?
- Is a lack of staff forcing services to close?
- Is teacher turnover higher than usual and if so in what parts of the sector is staff churn typically highest?
- Are there obvious biases that restrict teacher supply, and if so what are these and what is being done to address the biases?
2. Opinion: What the ECC says its centres want will not be best for early childhood education
The ECC prefers cheap migrant labour over providing great workplaces for staff and supporting kiwi teachers to be paid a fair wage that reflects their value, training and experience.
Bypassing strict immigration and visa requirements will inevitably see exploitation of people who are truly desperate to do whatever they have to, to get into NZ and get out of the poor/ or authoritarian country they currently live in. The longer this then goes on, making employer profitability dependent on cheap/ compliant/ scared labour, a strategy will develop of laying off kiwi early childhood teachers and simply hiring replacement teachers from overseas.
The ECC wants at least the same level of taxpayer funding for centres as is now, but with fewer qualified ECE teachers, more children to teachers, and lower quality staffing.
3. Goodbye to election promises of funding for 100% qualified teachers in teacher-led services
The ministry has signalled that it wants to keep wages in our sector low by bringing in cheap migrant labour to meet demand by some for-profit childcare providers for 'suitable' staff. It wants early childhood teaching to be added to the Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) list so ECE service providers do not have to show that there were no suitable NZ applicants and can bypass visa requirements.
This will come as a huge disappointment to everyone who voted for a change in government and believed in the election promises of Labour, NZ First and the Greens. All three parties campaigned on the promise of support for 100% qualified ECE teachers and Labour also promised to lift the current legal requirement from 50% to 80%.
Immigration NZ is seeking submissions on early childhood teaching being included in the ESID list
4. How to be an early childhood service that doesn't have staffing hassles
5. Quality - the best for children in centres and home-based ECE
Research on quality from a developmental psychology perspective has focused on structural features of the early childhood setting. The five most important features are:
- group size (also known as class size),
- trained staff,
- teacher-child ratio,
- the amount of space per child, and
- teacher turnover/ staff stability.
The first four features can be controlled through government regulation the fifth feature depends on the service provider/ employer as it is difficult to regulate.
The regulatory requirements for each of these features are outlined in an article, along with what to achieve if you are a service provider and what to look for if you are a prospective employee or parent looking for a quality service.
6. Sun protection begins in Term 4 - What you need to know, discussions, policy template, and resources
> sun protection policy for centres and home-based service. Includes: legal and professional accountability, guidelines for policy development, the recommended frequency of and reasons for review, and a policy templates (ECE service info)
> best practices recommended by World Health Organisation, the NZ and Australian Cancer Societies, and health experts for best clothing, sunscreen, sunhats, shade protection for children at centres, when travelling in cars and going for walks, etc. Also, details what you need to know about special considerations for infants.
7. Students and research supervisors - call for papers
A special issue of the NZ-International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal is in preparation to showcase the best of student writing on issues relevant to early childhood education. Submissions to the special issue are now invited.
Go to our website www.childforum.com You will find practical advice, policy guidance, the latest news, survey reports, original research and analysis.
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