Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce

  • Hon Chris Hipkins

The Government’s drive to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE) is taking another step forward with the reintroduction of a higher funding rate for services that employ fully qualified and registered teachers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.

“Research shows that high-quality ECE can improve young people’s learning and developmental outcomes, particularly for children in low socio-economic groups,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Budget 2020 provides $278.2 million to restore the 100 per cent funding band for teacher-led ECE services after it was scrapped by the previous Government in 2010.

“A decade of underfunding in early childhood education under National has had a significant impact on the sector, which is why I put ECE as my top priority for this Budget.

“As we respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and rebuild together, it is vitally important that the sector responsible for our youngest New Zealanders is funded properly.

“In 2018, about 400 centres (13 per cent of teacher-led centres) employed a fully qualified and certificated workforce.

“This initiative rewards centres offering the highest quality education by ensuring all of their required teachers are fully trained teachers.

“This funding boost comes at a time when COVID-19 is likely to lower demand for early learning services. This new funding band will encourage more centres to use fully trained teachers and keep them in work.

“Today’s investment builds on the $320.8 million investment in early learning announced last week, which focused on improving the pay of some of the lowest paid teachers,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Reinstating the 100% funding band is one of the top action points in the Early Learning Action Plan.

The new 100% funding rates will apply from 1 January 2021. Eligible centres will receive the increased payments in November 2020 advance funding to cover January and February 2021.

Note –

Currently the requirement is that early childhood teacher-led centres need to have at least 50% of staff required to meet adult-to-child ratios with a recognised ECE teaching qualification. Almost all (96%) teacher-led centres employ 80% or more qualified and certificated teachers. A small number (135 out of 3,305) teacher-led centres employ fewer than 80% qualified and certificated teachers.