Early childhood education likely to get more expensive

The Government has announced a ‘bold ten year plan’ for early childhood (pre-school) education,  an area in education that has increased a lot over the last decade or two. I

Changes include moving towards 100% fully qualified teachers and improving adult child ratios, which will make what effectively is childcare for working parents more expensive.

RNZ: Govt announces $3.5 billion early childhood plan

The government’s draft 10-year strategic plan for early childhood education also suggested regulation of early childhood teachers’ pay and greater restrictions on where new services would be allowed to open.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said quality was the focus of the plan, which would be open for consultation until 15 March 2019.

Mr Hipkins said a top priority was the reintroduction of a higher government subsidy for early childhood services where all teachers were qualified.

He said another priority was to raise the minimum ratio of teachers required to look after the youngest children.

“At the moment the ratios for under-twos are one-to-five, but also in the two-year-old age bracket it’s a one-to-10 ratio at the moment. The plan aims to get us to a one-to-five ratio for the two-year-olds and then moving down to a one-to-four for the under two-year-olds,” Mr Hipkins said.

The draft plan suggests raising the minimum percentage of qualified teachers in teacher-led early childhood centres from 50 to 80 percent by 2022, and to 100 percent in the longer-term.

There are some concerns:

The Early Childhood Council said it agreed with the goal of raising quality, but warned that it would be difficult to find sufficient teachers to fill improved teacher-child ratios for the youngest children.

“We wonder where the increased teaching staff will come from given there is currently a significant shortage of teachers,” the council’s chief executive Peter Reynolds said.

Beehive: New plan for high quality early learning

A bold ten year plan looks to restore the Government’s commitment to quality in early learning, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Moving towards 100 percent qualified teachers in early childhood education centres and improving adult:child ratios are among some of the key proposals for change put forward by the sector and experts in the new draft ten year strategic plan for early learning,”  Chris Hipkins said.

The draft plan, He taonga te tamaiti, sets the direction for early learning for the next 10 years and is open for consultation until 15 March 2019.

“This ten year vision for early learning puts the focus back on quality, picking up on the huge progress made by the last Labour Government.

“All the evidence shows that early learning gives children a head start in life, improves their wellbeing and contributes to a happy safe childhood. But only if it’s high quality.

“Participation in early learning has grown in recent years, but this doesn’t mean that all children have access to high quality learning opportunities.

“This is why I appointed a Ministerial Advisory Group and a Reference Group to work with the sector and the Ministry of Education on a new Strategic Plan for Early Learning. I asked them to focus on three themes:  quality, equity, and choice.

“Their draft plan released today sets out a path to develop and strengthen the early learning sector over the next 10 years, to meet the needs of all children and their families and whānau,” Chris Hipkins said.

Key proposals for change include:

  • moving towards a 100% qualified teacher workforce in early childhood education centres
  • improving the adult:child ratios for babies and toddlers
  • increasing the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions across the sector
  • a more planned approach to establishing new services, greater support and increased monitoring.

“The draft plan will see some significant changes in the sector, including the increase in demand for qualified teachers.

“This is a long term commitment which requires a staged approach to allow time for the sector to respond to the changes and additional workforce demands.

“I am keen to hear from families and whānau, kaiako, service providers, educators and the wider community about the specific changes suggested, as well as the proposed timeline for implementation,” Chris Hipkins said.

Consultation will include an online survey as well as a series of hui around the country.

Here is the draft Strategic Plan for Early Learning and here is the Cabinet paper.

RNZ’s Insight programme reported serious complaints about the quality of some early childhood services last year.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  20th November 2018

    Do we have a problem with 2 year olds not being taught algebra properly. Why not try and tackle the terrible problem of kids in lower socio economic areas having to attend woeful schools rather than solving the non problem of upper middle class Tarquin and Felicity having teacher miss pronounce while reading at storytime while Mum is at her yoga class.

    • duperez

       /  20th November 2018

      It’d be great if kids in lower socio economic areas all had wonderful schools to attend.

      The wonderful teachers could be the salve to the dismal lives the children lead and have them turn out all bright and smiling and aspirational.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  20th November 2018

        I was reading at the age of 3, but didn’t learn this at kindergarten.

        The small children at kindergartens I pass seem to spend their time playing, not learning. Which is fair enough. Who can learn much at the age of two ?

  2. adamsmith1922

     /  20th November 2018

    More middle class welfare for the chattering classes,the Twitterati and Ardern’s media fanclub.

  3. Mother

     /  20th November 2018

    People are frustrated by this sort of nonsense because everybody knows that ‘quality’ regarding education in a child’s formative years comes from one place – a loving family.

    • duperez

       /  20th November 2018

      I won’t uptick the ‘this sort of nonsense’ bit but what you are getting at is the essence, should be the essence. I wonder how many of the erudite contributors on here went to some “early childhood education facility.”

      Institutionalising kids’ learning is passing the buck and stopping people from recognising where real learning is best achieved. Learning as a commodity has become normalised.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  20th November 2018

        I did uptick it because it is nonsense and sad nonsense at that. This is just another step down the Left’s path of stamping individual thought and creativity out of life. It will only affect the middle class though as the poor will be shut out by cost and inaccessibility and the wealthy will recognise it for the crap it is and go their own way.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  20th November 2018

        I remember when Labour maddened many people by making it unlawful to have creches of the type that gyms had to look after the children while mum was spending an hour or two there. These now had to be run by qualified early childhood people and as the gyms etc didn’t have these and weren’t going to, the creches closed. Pak & Save had a large playpen where a staff member looked after small children while the parents were shopping. The parents liked it and the children had fun instead of being carted around. That, of course, had to close.


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