Release of "Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua"

  • Brian Donnelly
Associate Minister of Education (Early Childhood Education and Maori Education)

E nga rangatira ma

E nga iwi katoa e noho nei

T ëna koutou, tëna koutou, tëna koutou katoa

I would like to welcome you all here today to celebrate the Government's initiatives to support and improve the quality of early childhood education.

While waiting for this function to begin I hope you had time to browse through some of the curriculum resources that only 12 years ago would not have been possible. In those days no money was allocated for early childhood education resources. The publications you have been looking at today have only been possible since 1990.

The Desirable Objectives and Practices are founded on two guiding principles which I consider essential in the provision of quality early childhood care and education.

They are:

that services work in partnership with parents and whanau to promote and extend the learning and development of each child and

that they develop and implement a curriculum that assists all children to be competent and confident learners and communicators; that they be healthy in mind, body and spirit; secure in their sense of belonging; and secure in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.

The concept that there is a curriculum in early childhood education is relatively new in New Zealand. In the 1980s it was a debated subject and it was not till the 1990s that the concept became acceptable to all services. 'Te Wharaki' was a major breakthrough that changed the opposition to the concept of a curriculum in early childhood education.

This land mark document changed service providers understanding of curriculum. It gave an acceptable definition of curriculum and provided a common knowledge base that all early childhood educators could share.

The important principle we are celebrating today, that there is a curriculum in early childhood education and the quality of that curriculum is vital to young children's ongoing educational achievement has been developed and promoted particularly in the last 12 years.

The guiding principle of partnership with parents and whanau is dear to my heart. I believe strongly that early childhood must be a partnership between home, family and community to enable children to have the best start in life.

Parents after all are the prime educators of very young children.

Just last week, research published in Christchurch, emphasised that parents demand QUALITY in early childhood education. It is our job, as professionals and funders to support providers in ensuring that quality is there.

This publication 'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' is part of that support.

Many of the people who were part of earlier initiatives that have led to today's publication, are in the audience today. There are too many to mention individually but I want to acknowledge their presence and thank them for their contribution and the sound foundations they laid.

'Quality in Action- Te Mahi Whai Hua' continues the tradition of a bicultural resource for all early childhood education services.

It identifies the generic principles common to all early childhood education services and sets out the Government's expectations that all chartered early childhood services in partnership with parents should provide for the standards of care and education for young children.

'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' is not a mandatory document. However, the revised Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices 1996 commonly known as the DOPs, is mandatory and becomes operational on 1 August 1998.

The DOPs is the legal basis of the charters for early childhood services. The DOPs is an undertaking by the management of an early childhood service that it will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the service is managed in accordance with the objectives and practices in their charter.

The purpose of 'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' is to provide guidance and support to early childhood managers and educators in their responsibilities of interpreting and implementing the requirements of the DOPs.

'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' reflects up-to -date knowledge on young children's learning and development and on management theory and practice.

It indicates different ways in which managers and educators might meet the requirements of the revised DOPs. It makes transparent the sound educational and management practices for all New Zealand early childhood services, regardless of their individual philosophies and emphases.

'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' is an ambitious document. It aims to provide guidance that is helpful and practical at the same time as it aims to enable managers and educators to use their professional judgment and determine their own individual emphases and philosophies.

I have read 'Quality in Acton- Te Mahi Whai Hua' and I am impressed at its depth and breadth of subject matter. As a former school principal I acknowledge that you will not be able to implement all of the components immediately.

On first reading it may seem overwhelming. This book makes transparent all the dynamics that go on in an early childhood centre. I am confident that you are already doing many of the examples described, but you are probably taking them for granted and do not recognise that you are doing them.

Things often seem more difficult when they are presented in written form but I am sure on reflection you will realise the book is in many instances describing what you are already doing. I suggest you identify where your service is at, and then work out a strategic plan as to how you will progress over time to implement each DOP.

Professional development will continue to support services. 'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' was written to improve practice and lift performance. It does not just describe today's common practice but provides a practical vision for the future. I am confident that the successful implementation of 'Quality in Action - Te Mahi Whai Hua' will benefit today's young children and their families.

In officially announcing the release of 'Quality in Action- Te Mahi Whai Hua' I want to acknowledge the work of all those people who have contributed to the success of the document. In particular I want to acknowledge:

the co-operation and input of the early childhood education sector and especially the Early Childhood Education Advisory Committee;
the dedication and hard work put in by the writers of the document under the guidance of Di Davies. I'm told that Lyn Foote, Di Davies, Rita Walker, Sophie Bringzen, Arapera
Royal-Tangaere, Barbara Mabbett, Edna Faleto'ese, Bernadette Ah-Vao and Val Burns were spotted working late sometimes after midnight on too many occasions;
the expertise and flair of Simon Chiaroni, the editor and Learning Media project manager. the photographer Margaret Gould for capturing the essence of young children's involvement in learning;
the co-operation of the early childhood services and the parents of the children, who allowed Margaret to take photographs in their centres - The Newtown Aoga Amata; Te Kaahui Kohanga Reo; the Kilbirnie Community Creche; Kidzone Newtown; and Wellington South Kindergarten; and finally to
Colin Brown Senior Manager of the Curriculum Division of the Ministry of Education who was determined that early childhood education services would get the best publication at the highest standard to assist them in their important work.

Ladies and gentleman I commend 'Quality in Action- Te Mahi Whai Hua' to you as a useful practical document designed to take New Zealand early childhood services into the 21st century.

By putting into practice the examples of standards indicated in this book, early childhood education
services will continue to promote New Zealand's international reputation for providing high quality
early childhood education to all New Zealanders.

No reira, e nga iwi e tau nei, e hoa ma, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

(Therefore, all those assembled here, friends, distinguished leaders, greetings, greetings, greetings
one and all)