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Early childhood teachers should not be short-changed because of inadequate forecasting

The incoming government has an urgent job to do fixing early childhood education funding, education union NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

A recently released Cabinet paper from September shows the previous Labour Government walked back from their commitment to fund full pay parity for ECE teachers in line with their colleagues in kindergarten and schools.

The Government blamed the complexity of the funding system for contributing to a $252.7 million gap in Ministry of Education forecasts of the cost.

Because of the inadequate forecasting, Cabinet decided to rescind an earlier decision to pass on the full increases to the base teacher scale won by kindergarten and school teachers to their peer teachers in early childhood centres.

“Instead of fixing this issue with additional funding, the previous government decided to let ECE teachers, the lowest-paid teacher workforce in education, shoulder the cost themselves,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Stephanie Mills.

“The Government says it’s not affordable, but teachers can’t afford it either. To refuse to fairly pay these teachers, 98% of them women, is unfair and deeply frustrating. ECE teachers have fought for decades on low pay to win parity, and now, while facing the steepest cost of living rises in recent times and with full parity just in sight, the previous government has reneged on their promise.

“The first 1000 days are the most important in a child’s life, and unfortunately it is ultimately tamariki who will miss out because of this failure to invest in teachers.

“There’s a chronic shortage of teachers in the sector: failing to pay full parity will just make it harder to recruit and retain teachers, particularly experienced and expert teachers in community-based and private centres. We know a stable and well-supported workforce is essential to good learning outcomes for tamariki; now both the quality and cost of ECE for parents may be impacted.

“Quality outcomes for tamariki means improving ratios and making teaching attractive and sustainable as a profession. However, this will only happen when early childhood teachers are recognised for their worth and paid the same as their counterparts in kindergartens and schools, and we see real movement on ratios.

“We look forward to progressing this as a priority with the incoming government,” says Stephanie Mills.

 

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