Kids at risk due to Government ECE push

A new survey of the early childhood education (ECE) sector shows centres struggling to make ends meet under a six-year Government funding freeze, the Green Party said today.

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa survey of ECE centres shows that 87 percent of respondents have experienced shortfalls since the Government first froze per-child funding six years ago. The Government has pushed for 98 percent of children to be participating in ECE before starting school as a Better Public Service target.

“Putting bums on seats has been more important to the National Government than ensuring that kids are getting a quality experience,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“Pushing more and more children into ECE while freezing per-child funding for six years means that something has to give – it shouldn’t be the quality of education for our children.

“The Education Ministry, the Education Review Office, the chief education science advisor and advisory groups have all told the Minister there are serious quality issues with some early childhood education services, and these quality issues are putting thousands of kids at risk.

“Everything the Government has done has driven down the quality of ECE, at the same time it has been forcing more and more children to participate.

“This Government scrapped the requirement for all teachers in the sector to be qualified, it has encouraged the proliferation of low quality ECE, scrapped a review of the home-based sector following serious concerns, and threatened to cut families’ benefits if they don’t enrol their children in ECE.

“Early childhood education is relied upon by many families around the country, and families should be able to trust that their kids are being properly educated and looked after.

“I am particularly concerned that 31 percent of respondents say that the inclusion of learners with special education needs has been affected.

“My Select Committee inquiry into dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders in schools, due to report back very soon, has heard for the need for better and earlier screening when children have these learning needs,” Ms Delahunty said. 

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