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The Government must act to address a severe shortage of early childhood education teachers before centres are forced to further compromise on quality, National’s spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Nicola Willis says.

“I have surveyed early childhood teachers and managers to measure the severity of reported shortages of early childhood educators, and the results are compelling.

“More than 2000 people across New Zealand responded to my survey, with 94 per cent reporting a shortage of early childhood teachers.

“More than a third reported spending more than six months looking for an appropriate qualified early childhood teacher to hire, with more than 260 respondents looking for more than a year. More than two-thirds of respondents say they’ve been forced to hire less qualified staff than they would have liked.

“35 per cent of respondents have had to reduce the number of educators in their centre as a result of teacher shortages. This means kids are missing out on the attention and support they deserve and their parents expect.

“The problems are most acute in Auckland where 79 per cent say they’ve been forced to hire an unqualified teacher.

“I’ve been told about increasing reliance on relievers, rapid turnover of staff, stressed teachers working over-time to cover gaps and children not getting the consistent care and relationships they need. It’s no wonder the Ministry of Education has seen a jump in complaints from parents. 

“Those surveyed made many suggestions for immediate and long-term action to support high quality early childhood education, and have made it clear they are sick of being treated as the ‘poor cousins’ of education.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to make their voice heard - your work matters and deserves recognition. I’m calling on Chris Hipkins to sit down with me so I can share all of your feedback.

“Labour came into office promising a 100 per cent qualified early childhood education workforce and lower teacher: student ratios.  It has failed to deliver on those promises and is instead overseeing a brewing crisis.

“The Minister has stalled on this issue for long-enough. He must stop playing the political blame-game and take action.”

The survey results can be found here.

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