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Qualifications Matter In Early Childhood

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Jenny Moss is a qualified primary teacher and has a Masters degree in education. She is now working in early childhood education and is more than happy to be studying towards the extra qualification she needs. Like many other people inside the early childhood sector I too am concerned about the very short supply of qualified early childhood teachers in New Zealand. I have read with growing alarm the strong opinions of many people from both inside and outside the early childhood sector that perhaps not all teachers in the early childhood sector need to hold a New Zealand Early Childhood Diploma or Degree. To consider anything less is to believe that the education of our very youngest citizens is not as important as in any other educational sector. In fact current research evidence tells us that the learning undertaken by children under two years, is vital for brain development and future learning and social behaviour. I currently teach in an early childhood centre in Wanaka but I have been a qualified primary teacher for many years. During this time I upgraded my teaching diploma to an Advanced Diploma and recently completed my Master of Education (Hons). My degree included one early childhood paper. During my many years as a new entrant teacher and Deputy Principal, in Wanaka and Auckland, I had many occasions to visit local early childhood centres. Two years ago as a primary teacher I would have thought I could just move into an early childhood position, but after 18 months in my present position, while studying by distance, I am amazed by what I, have needed to know, and what I have learned. My primary teaching degree has been recognised and I am currently completing an 18 month course. This course would be 12 months if I was attending daily lectures. My centre receives an incentive grant from the Ministry of Education which means I only pay one third of my fees. I have no regrets about undertaking my Early Childhood Diploma study and feel fully supported by my Centre's management team. The New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum, Te Whāriki is an amazing holistic document. My regret is that as a primary teacher I wish I had known more about its implementation. Recently I spent several weeks in an Under 2 classroom. I learned so much. This is an area where education and care are co-dependent. This kind of teaching is so dependent on up-to-date theory informing practice. No way as a primary teacher would I be qualified to teach in this specialised area. Yes there is a shortage of qualified early childhood teachers but that is no reason to panic and compromise on the need to have fully qualified early childhood teachers. I applaud the position of my union NZEI Te Riu Roa, the New Zealand Childcare Association and some private service providers, that there must be no watering down of the targets for moving towards a fully qualified workforce. Maybe we do have to delay the timeline for full implementation as it appears we have far more enrolments of children than was ever envisaged when the current time plan was put in place. We need to give our youngest citizens the best education and care that we can. They deserve nothing less. If we compromise now we will pay the price for many years. We need to keep the vision.

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