The Herald says that the government has been pushing “bums on seats” in the early childhood sector while ignoring concerns about quality.
“This is what happens when you slash funding to ECE, reduce teaching standards, and force more kids to attend ECE at the same time,” said Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty.
NZEI President Louise Green said that children weren’t getting the benefit of the curriculum were no surprise, given centres could have as few as 50 per cent qualified teachers.”Untrained staff on minimum wage don’t understand child development or how to turn a simple interaction into a teaching moment,” she said.
Otago University emeritus professor Anne Smith, an expert in early childhood education, said there were two parts to “quality”. “There’s physical things like group sizes and staff qualifications, and process quality, which is the responsiveness we’re talking about: responding when children talk and communicating with them,” Dr Smith said.
“There is a need to strengthen specialist training for those working with infants and toddlers in early childhood services. This need was evident in an earlier report by ERO published in 2009. The 2009 report showed that in just under half of the centres, teacher-child interactions did not foster and extend children’s interests and ideas.” says Professor Carmen Dalli, Director, Institute for Early Childhood Studies.
Carmen Dalli finds a surprising discovery in the current report, that structural factors such as adult:child ratios, group size and staff qualifications did not contribute significantly to the variability of quality across centres. This contradicts research which since the late 1970s has consistently demonstrated that adult-child ratios, group size, and teacher qualifications are integrally connected to the quality of children’s experiences. But that the structural factors do provide the enabling base such as the example of the ability of adults to engage in one-to-one interactions with infants and toddlers is directly related to there being enough adults to go round. Research shows that for this to happen a ratio of 1 adult to 3 under-twos is ideal and 1:4 is good enough. Our regulations stipulate a minimum ratio of 1:5. A pre-election promise by National to regulate a ratio of 1:4 has fallen by the wayside.
The Education Review Report report released on 6 August examines how well 235 early childhood services supported infants and toddlers to become competent and confident communicators and explorers.the report examined: “Just over half of services had a responsive curriculum that supported infants and toddlers to become competent and confident communicators and explorers.”
they were looking for learning outcomes for infants and toddlers that was influenced by:
- high quality leadership
- a highly reflective culture where teachers inquired into and regularly reflected on their teaching practice
- whole-staff professional learning and development in relation to infants and toddlers.
In the media:
The Herald, Thursday 6 August by education reporter Kirsty Johnston, ‘Early childhood services fall short’
The Herald, Thursday 6 August, comment by Professor Carmen Dalli, Director, Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Victoria University Wellington, ‘Early childhood report ‘very sobering”
The Herald, Friday 7 August, by education reporter Kirsty Johnston, ‘Parata quiet on ECE quality failure’