National will consider the proposals made in the Early Learning Action Plan, but is sceptical this is yet another unfunded wish list from a Government with a record of non-delivery, National’s Early Childhood Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.
“The Government’s Early Learning Action Plan contains a big disclaimer that Cabinet is yet to agree on its individual actions, or put aside any funding for them.
“This is just another wish list. The Government hasn’t funded these promises and may still drop them.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has failed to take meaningful action on the widespread teacher shortages impacting early childhood education services, deferring instead to yet another plan.
“A recent survey I conducted of more than 2000 people in the early childhood sector confirmed the severe teacher shortages, with more than 600 respondents struggling for more than six months to find an ECE teacher.
“The Government campaigned on a promise of 100 per cent qualified teachers and lower teacher ratios. This plan does not fund those promises, which they are failing to deliver on.
“There is also a risk that, left unfunded, the cost of these promises will fall on families who will be forced to pay higher fees for the education their children receive.
“The 100 per cent qualified goal remains unrealistic. There are about 10,000 experienced educators currently working in ECE without formal teaching qualifications. It makes no sense to exclude them when there is such a dire lack of educators available.
“I’m concerned that the proposals to incentivise 100 per cent qualified teachers will have the negative effect of making it even harder for centres struggling to find teachers, as they will face a further funding disadvantage.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins is dropping this Action Plan to look like he’s busy, but in reality it’s just an unfunded wish list.”