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Early Childhood Education Review Taskforce Announced

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley

Wellington, Oct 7 NZPA - A taskforce has been set up to look at early childhood education (ECE) funding, which Labour says will see cuts.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said the taskforce would review the effectiveness of ECE spending and come up with ideas about learning and report back to her next March.

The taskforce would:

* review benefits from government investments in early childhood education;

* consider the efficiency and effectiveness of ECE expenditure and possible improvements for Maori, Pasifika, and children from low socio-economic backgrounds;

* develop innovative, cost effective and evidence-based ways to support children's learning in early childhood and the first years of compulsory schooling;

* provide recommendations about proposed changes to funding and policy settings for ECE, and the costs, benefits and risks.

Labour MP Sue Moroney said the review would almost certainly lead to cost cutting.

"This taskforce has been set up without any consultation with the early childhood sector," she said.

"The terms of reference have been set by Anne Tolley a Minister who has so far been happy to reduce the numbers of qualified teachers at each ECE centre and whose cost cutting will see increased fees for parents.

"If Anne Tolley was serious about having a taskforce on ECE its terms of reference would include monitoring the effect on families of fee increases and the quality of education children receive after the number of qualified teachers have reduced at each centre."

Parents would end up footing increased costs, she said.

Mrs Tolley said the investment in ECE next year would total $1.3 billion and it had to be well spent.

"It's vital this money is well spent to ensure the greatest number of children gain access to ECE and fully benefit from it," she said.

"The previous government's ECE cost blow-out saw funding treble but the number of children in ECE grew by less than 1 percent. We owe it to New Zealand children to do better than that, particularly for our Maori and Pacific children and those in lower socio-economic backgrounds."

Ms Moroney said enrolments had increased by 10 percent since Labour introduced its 20 hours free policy.

Taskforce members were:

* Dr Michael Mintrom -- Associate Professor of Public Policy at Auckland University;

* Dr Richie Poulton, director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit;

* Dr Anne Smith, former director of the Children's Issues Centre at Otago University;

* Ron Viviani, director of Pacific Guardian Childcare;

* Tanya Harvey, general manager of the Auckland Kindergarten Association;

* Aroaro Tamaiti, director of Te Kopae Piripono Immersion Maori Early Childhood Centre;

* Laurayne Tafa, school principal of decile two Homai Primary in Manurewa;

* Claire Johnstone, general manager business services at the Hutt City Council;

* Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council chief executive.

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