What the Early Learning Action Plan means for children, parents, whānau and ECE services
Published on Wednesday, 01 April 2020
Last updated on Sunday, 03 May 2020
Most New Zealand children attend an early learning service before they head off to big school, and there’s no doubt that this engagement with educators, other children and educational play experiences is highly beneficial for their growth and development.
Early learning builds children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills at a time when most of their brain development is occurring, so it’s great to see that the Government is committed to delivering high quality early learning over the long-term.
After conducting what it calls, ‘The most extensive consultation process in the history of early learning in New Zealand’, the Government has released its Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029, which sets the direction and vision for the next 10 years of early learning.
Broadly speaking, the action plan aims to:
- Raise the quality of care, teaching and learning in early learning services
- Improve equity to ensure all children can access quality early learning and have the support they need
- Enable choice of service type
This action plan rests on the idea that, ‘Every child is a precious taonga, born with inherent potential for growth and development and with enduring connections to their ancestors and heritage.’
To help youngsters learn and thrive, and improve the early learning system, the action plan sets out five interconnected objectives and 25 actions for the next decade. The actions include:
- Improving adult to child ratios
- Moving towards a fully qualified teacher workforce in teacher-led centres, through incentives and regulation
- Improving the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions
- The development of a network management function for Government
To make this plan a reality, the Government says it will work with the early learning sector, parents and whānau, hapū, iwi, communities and agencies to implement each of the actions with a ‘stepped approach’ over the next 10 years.
The action plan is dependant on Cabinet agreement to specific actions, regulatory change and future Budget processes, but to give you a sense of where early learning is headed, here is a summary of the Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029:
This objective puts learners, with their whānau, at the centre of education.
To advance this objective, the Government will:
• Improve the ratios of adults to children under the age of 3 years in teacher-led centre-based early learning services.
• Require teachers to be organised among groups of children in ways that support secure and consistent care, language learning pathways, and positive transitions for children and whānau.
• Develop advice about group size, centre design and wider environmental factors, and how to improve quality standards in these areas.
• Support parents and whānau to navigate their choices of education and language learning pathways through better access to information.
This goal promises barrier-free access to great education opportunities and outcomes.
The Government will:
• Review equity and targeted funding to ensure that they best support children to benefit from access to high quality early learning experiences.
• Develop advice to facilitate wrap-around social services to support children and their whānau to engage in early learning and ensure that it is clear who holds key responsibility for coordinating learning support in each early learning service.
This focus on quality teaching and leadership will benefit children and their whānau.
The Government will:
• Incentivise for 100 per cent and regulate for 80 per cent qualified teachers in teacher-led centres, leading to regulation for 100 per cent.
• Raise the levels of home-based educators’ qualifications.
• Develop an early learning teacher supply strategy that aligns with the wider education workforce strategy.
• Implement a mechanism that improves the levels and consistency of teachers’ salaries and conditions across the early learning sector.
• Improve Initial Teacher Education to ensure that teachers are well-qualified to implement the curriculum in collaboration with other professionals.
• Develop a sustained and planned approach to professional learning and development.
• Develop innovation and research hubs for early learning services.
• Support early learning services to participate as equitable partners in cross-service and cross-sector collaboration.
• Support the workforce to integrate te reo Māori into all early learning services.
This objective recognises that early learning is relevant to children’s future work and learning.
The Government will:
• Gazette the curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, to support engagement with the principles, strands, goals and outcomes when designing local curricula.
• Co-construct a range of valid, reliable, culturally and linguistically appropriate tools to support formative assessment and teaching practice.
• Support services to undertake robust internal evaluation that strengthens implementation of Te Whāriki and ensures ongoing improvement.
This means that New Zealand will offer world-class, inclusive, sustainable and trusted public education.
The Government will:
• Introduce a managed network approach to ensure high quality, diverse and sustainable early learning provision.
• Identify options to address supply of early learning services in underserved communities.
• Set aside space for early learning services alongside school sites, where possible.
• Strengthen governance and management support for Pacific language and other community early learning services.
• Introduce a consistent and rigorous programme of monitoring and licensing.
• Improve transparency of funding for parents, teaching staff and government.
• Co-design an appropriate funding model with Playcentre Aotearoa New Zealand.
This is a lot to take in, but it’s heartening to see that the government has consulted with the public and the early learning sector to come up with a positive plan for the next 10 years.
We look forward to seeing it being rolled out, and whether your child attends a kindergarten, child care centre, kōhanga reo or another early learning service, the Government is taking steps to help all young Kiwis learn and thrive.
In New Zealand, there are approximately 8,000 home-based educators caring for about 13,000 children, not including nannies and au pairs who work in the homes of the children.
An Action Plan to improve support for children and young people with different learning needs has been launched by Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.
The government is seeking feedback on the draft National Education and Learning Priorities and the Tertiary Education Strategy.