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


Early Childhood Alert, No. 20, 2019

We are trying a new printable newspaper format for the Early Childhood newsletter. 

It is bright, gives you snippets of information about what's up and where to find out more if you are interested, and it is printable! 

You can print out a copy and keep it.  You may also give out copies to other people at work or place a copy in your staffroom or library.  

Get your free printable newsletter by clicking here (it may take up to 30 seconds to show on your screen) - or email us and request a copy

Key headings or topics of articles and notices include:  food safety, minister accepts need for pay parity for teachers in all ECE services, sun protection for children and ideas for natural and built shade, NZEI Te Riu Roa promises unmet, $80k salary for overseas teachers set to make teacher shortage worse - has the Early Childhood business council got it wrong, birthday cakes and other options for children in ECE, spirituality in ECE and why educators must prioritise this, an open letter from early childhood teachers to Prime Minister Ardern and Minister Hipkins, and reading starts early - a parent workshop programme available to all ECE services.

Let us know if you like this new format or if you would prefer that we return to doing what we have always done which is the electronic e-mail newsletter (which is pasted in below for you too).


Kind regards

Sarah Alexander
(Chief Executive)


Early Childhood Alert, No. 20, 2019

Food safety

The most basic expectation every parent has when leaving their infant or young child in licensed ECE is that their child will still be alive and unharmed at the end of the day.
And so, it is wonderful that the Ministry of Education has accepted it must take action to put things right and enforce that services follow Ministry of Health guidelines to prevent and reduce the risk to children of choking when eating. Choking hazards will need to be included in service hazard lists and the ministry is also looking at increasing the number of adults that must be first-aid trained in a service.

To challenge the ministry and get to this point, it has taken hundreds of hours of work and much planning. But this commitment has been nothing compared to the bravery of the Renata family in telling their story and it has been nothing compared to what they and other families have suffered because services are allowed to do what the Ministry of Health says is dangerous to do, which is to give high risk foods to children at highest risk of choking.

> To learn more and see the reports and various updates click here

Education Minister accepts need for Pay Parity

Our message is clear and simple. Qualified ECE teachers are valuable professionals. They should have pay parity with their kindergarten and school teacher peers.

We are delighted that our clear message has been accepted by the Minister and that he has not allowed himself to be diverted by NZEI’s various initiatives.

We have identified a simple mechanism to achieve pay parity; which is that the Ministry of Education require attestation that services are paying at KTCA rates in exchange for kindergarten levels of funding.

Our message is starting to get through – the Minister has accepted the need for pay parity. We have been improving material to help give you a voice. Everything can be found at

Open Letter: An open letter from teachers to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education is now available for signing.
Postcards: There are postcards to the various education/ECE spokespeople for you to print off, sign and post (FREE!).
Posters: We have three different posters. Share these wherever you think appropriate.
The Pay Parity Petition: There are now over 13,000 signatures. Please keep encouraging everyone to sign it.
Campaign book: This gives considerable information on teacher pay and reviews the reasons for pay parity. Get your free copy of this also from the page link above.

> Find everything on ECE teacher pay and materials here


Children’s eyes, skin and health: Protecting from the harmful effects of the sun

Always use sun protection measures during peak UVR times between September and April, especially between 10am and 4pm (or Terms 1 & 4 in early childhood services).
During the winter months and outside of these hours, sunhats and other sun protection measures are usually not necessary and can be harmful for children's health. It can be harmful because some UV radiation exposure through being outdoors is important for vitamin D production. Vitamin D is really important for young children's bone, muscle and brain development.

When the UVR levels are high or there is high reflectivity then measures need to be taken to protect children's skin and eyes.
The basics of sun protection for young children include:
* Protective clothing
* A suitable hat
* Broad-spectrum SPF30+ water resistant sunscreen
* Shade when outdoors
* Sunglasses when a hat cannot be used.

Read more about the best methods and also the special considerations for babies, for all children when travelling in a vehicle, and when taking children on walks

Service providers: Make use of guidance and ideas for natural and for built shade structures and planning


NZEI TE RIU ROA: Promises unmet

NZEI are presenting a petition to the Minister of Education this Friday. Their petition is the result of their ‘Every Child is Worth It’ campaign; a campaign promise to restore early childhood that has been going on since the last election. It states “We ask that you honour your pre-election education funding, deliver on 100% qualified teachers, and reduce teacher to child ratios.”

The NZEI's petition has no mention of the pay equity campaign that they have been promoting, or of pay parity for teachers in ECE services. It also has no mention of their somewhat confusing 11% immediate pay increase promise to all teachers working in ECE regardless of employer.

It hasn’t delivered on its promise yet to give all ECE teachers an immediate pay jolt of 11%.

Sadly for its members a clause within the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement was not kept by NZEI as it has spent the last couple of years working on putting together a claim for pay equity. The clause read: “The parties to the ECECA are committed to achieving pay parity with qualified and certificated teachers in kindergarten and in the primary and secondary education sectors for qualified and certificated teachers covered by this agreement.”

The ECECA expired on the 19th Sept 2019 and NZEI appears to have left teachers who are covered by this agreement hanging, with no pay increase! How could this be? What then are teachers getting out of their membership fees to NZEI?

> Read more and get the campaign update here 

Must offer $80k salary – really?

There has been a bit of a flap about pay rates for ECE teachers recruited from overseas. According to a press release by the Early Childhood business Council (ECC) Immigration NZ changes are set to make the teacher shortage worse: “ECE centres looking to attract teachers wanting residency must offer an almost $80k annual salary, up from $55k, from 2021.”  Is the ECC right? 

> Get the full story here


CELEBRATIONS: Birthday cakes and other options

Birthdays are a very exciting time for children and it is important that children can celebrate these special occasions with their peers to acknowledge and appreciate this day with them.

We can probably all remember the excitement of a birthday cake and waiting with anticipation to eat this tasty treat.
In early childhood settings however, this can pose a problem when following healthy eating guidelines that recommend foods and drinks high in sugar, salt or saturated and trans-fat should be avoided. For this reason, teachers may be unsure of whether to allow birthday cakes. Celebrating birthdays can be beneficial in many ways, which are reflected in Te Whāriki.
* Children’s wellbeing – Celebrating a child’s birthday helps them to develop a sense of self-worth, recognising that they are important to others.
* Children’s sense of belonging – Sharing experiences from their own lives, that are unique to them, encourages children to see themselves as an important part of the group.

Children may also want to share food with their peers, a way to link their culture and/or their home life with their time at the centre.

So, can children celebrate their birthday with cake at their ECE service?
Why do some services not allow this and what other options may be provided?

You can find the full article for members here


Spirituality in ECE: Why educators must prioritise this

Spiritual learning in ECE care can be summarised as experiences and explorations that come from the child which embrace connections and relationships. Spirituality encompasses beliefs and endeavours of creativity and curiosity. Studies in spirituality have made links with spiritual connections and learning, and a stronger sense of wellbeing. When considering the increasing incidences of poor mental health for young people in a rapidly changing society, spirituality can be viewed as an opportunity to decrease the occurrence of these disorders. Connections between religion and spirituality have created a barrier for its application in a range of services despite its ability to be applied without these inferences. To provide better outcomes for individuals in the future, we need to prioritise and promote spirituality in ECE.

Source: Nicole Megan Lees, author, NZ International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 2019, Vol. 22(2), pp. 35 - 42.

> You can find the research paper here




Tēnā korua Prime Minister Ardern and Minister Hipkins,

The Labour Party has said; “Children who participate in quality early childhood education enjoy the benefits throughout the rest of their lives. They do better at school, in tertiary education, and when they enter the workforce. Investment in children is one of the most important investments any government can make.”

As qualified teachers we are essential to the quality of education and care that our youngest and most vulnerable children receive, yet the Ministry of Education does not support our pay as professionally qualified and certificated
teachers to be much more than the minimum wage.

No early childhood teacher should have to get a second job, such as an actor, builder's apprentice, or a cleaner or turn to relief teaching, to make up for lower earnings.

Please don’t force us to leave teaching by treating us as worth substantially less than our peers who work in kindergartens and schools.

We shouldn’t be told to join a union and donate a proportion of what little we earn to it, when you have the power to enable pay parity for all teachers in ECE.

Please act now for the benefit of all children in teacher-led ECE (not in one year or 10 years, but now), by ensuring that all qualified ECE teachers receive the same pay as their peers in kindergarten and in the school sector.

Ngā mihi nui,
** Add your name to the letter to be sent to the Prime Minister and Minister of Education – go to the letter at:   or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name and ask to be added to the letter


Early Reading Together® is a workshop programme which helps parents/whānau of young children (babies to 5 and 6-year-olds) to support their children's language and literacy development.

It is a gold-standard programme developed through research by New Zealand expert Jeanne Biddulph.

The goal of Early Reading Together® is to help all children to develop a love of language and reading and the range of language and literacy abilities they need to function confidently and effectively. The Ministry of Education has for many years endorsed the programme and it has proven success.

Should your service not already be implementing the programme, you are invited to get in contact with The Biddulph Group and discuss getting on board.
ChildForum is planning to prepare a special feature to highlight the stories of services who have provided Early Reading Together® to their parents and whānau.

So, if you don’t want to miss out go to  or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


See our website at for more early childhood information, research, and guidance.

For member access as an individual join here:   or to join your ECE service organisation go here: 

No responsibility is taken for any errors. If you spot an error please inform us so that it can be corrected.
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