Enhancing the quality of early learning

Issue: Volume 100, Number 12

Posted: 15 September 2021
Reference #: 1HAPdv

Consultation has opened for the second tranche of proposals as part of the review of the early learning regulatory system. Education Gazette talks to Kathy Wolfe, chief executive of Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, about why it’s important for people to have their say.

The health, safety and wellbeing of children is at the centre of the early learning regulatory system review.

The health, safety and wellbeing of children is at the centre of the early learning regulatory system review.

The comprehensive review aims to ensure the regulatory system is clear and fit for purpose to support high-quality educational outcomes for New Zealand’s youngest learners.

A review is timely. The early learning sector has changed significantly since the Regulations came into force in 2008. The number of children participating in early learning has increased, and children are participating at younger ages and for longer hours.

This has led to a rapid expansion of early learning services, with different levels of growth between service types.

Status of the review

Tranche 1 policy changes were completed in July 2021 and were designed to address the immediate gaps in the current system and areas that pose a risk to children’s health, safety and wellbeing. These changes are being implemented in two stages over the coming six months.

The second tranche of proposals for consultation cover:

  • changes to qualifications required for the homebased ECE standard funding rate to be implemented by 1 January 2022 (consultation occurs 20 August–24 September)
  • Implementing the new network management function (which must be implemented by 1 August 2022) 
  • regulating for 80 percent qualified teachers for teacher-led centres and hospital-based services and strengthening the person responsible requirement for teacher-led centres and hospital-based services 
  • strengthening the person responsible requirement for homebased services. 

Review is essential

Kathy Wolfe is a member of the Early Learning Regulatory Review Advisory Group, a group including representatives from early childhood education services and peak sector bodies to contribute their perspectives and advice throughout the review. 

Kathy says the next stage of the review is critical.

“We must get it right for everyone. It is always about the child and their families. Placing the child at the centre of any policy changes and improvements are critical to the service provision we wish to provide and under the regulatory environment for which our early childhood services operate.”

Kathy says quality of provision must be upheld and maintained.  “Choice of providers is important for families and their children; however, we must ensure the network of provision is of high quality, and is fair, equitable, cost-effective and uncomplicated for families to make informed decisions.

“It will also require any new entrants into the market, community or private, to address an actual need and provide the Ministry with sound information to make informed decisions relating to the provision of licences.”

Kathy says 80 percent qualified teachers is a step in the right direction, but the goal remains 100 percent.

 “We do have current challenges in that there is a shortage of teachers, addressing pay parity and so on, but we need to start somewhere and regulating 80 percent is that point. This will assist and improve quality teaching and learning for our children.”

Taking responsibility

On the ‘person responsible’ requirement, Kathy says this needs to be a person or people who take responsibility for all at the centre in terms of a child’s safety, security, health and wellbeing.  

“Parents expect nothing less. Therefore, it is really important that the teacher(s) who are given this role are aware that they are responsible for this role and have the appropriate qualifications to do so.

Kathy urges people to have their say on the next round of consultation.

“This tranche of the review is extremely important for all services, their children, and their families. Early learning services should take the time to provide your input and feedback in the consultation. It will influence the future of provision across the ECE network and how you provide your services.” 

Have your say

Public consultation on Tranche 2 proposals is open until 13 October 2021, with further consultation on the proposals in early 2022. The Ministry intends Tranche 2 implementation to take place from mid-2022. 

Discussion documents, short summaries and surveys are available on Kōrero Matauranga(external link).

Feedback is to be submitted by 13 October 2021, either via a survey or a more detailed written submission. These may be sent to either Earlylearning.Regulatoryreview@education.govt.nz or 

Early Learning Regulatory Review
Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666
Wellington 6140


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:53 AM, 15 September 2021

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