Nearly all New Zealand children attend early learning services before starting school. The early learning sector includes kindergartens, ngā kōhanga reo, playcentres, education and care services (such as childcare centres or preschools), home-based ECE services, hospital-based services, playgroups, ngā puna kōhungahunga, and Pacific Island playgroups.
A draft plan has been developed by a Ministerial Advisory Group, a larger Reference Group that includes sector stakeholders, and the Ministry of Education.
The early learning online survey, the findings of the Education Summits and the broader Education Conversation, other work being undertaken in the education portfolio, as well as the latest research have all contributed to the draft plan’s development.
The terms of reference for the strategy were announced by the Minister of Education on 5 April 2018, together with the members of the Ministerial Advisory Group and the Reference Group.
We held 44 public hui around the country, attended by more than 1900 people, as well as meetings with key stakeholders. We received 2,264 online survey submissions and 219 written submissions during the consultation period (which closed on 15 March).
Overall, at the public hui, through our online survey, and via submission, people told us that they were in agreement with most of the draft Plan’s recommendations. Most highly ranked were improving adult:child ratios and moving towards 100% qualified teachers in teacher-led services.
We heard from a range of sector representatives, and some parents, at the public hui and via submissions. We also commissioned three parent focus groups, held in held in Auckland, Christchurch and Whangarei, to ensure that we captured parent’s view of the plan.
We asked survey respondents which types of early learning services they were involved with, and they said:
A final version of the strategic plan is being developed within the context of the Education Work Programme. This is being designed to fit together well so the different parts of the programme complement each other. It is expected that the Plan will be ready later in 2019.
Once finalised, the new strategy will set out a planned approach to develop and strengthen the early learning sector, to meet the needs of all children and their families and whānau.
The Government’s decisions on the recent Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education will be included as part of the strategic plan.