Labour MP outlines teacher plan

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2014
Jacinda Ardern
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ
FRIENDLY START: Labour MP Jacinda Ardern made some new friends at Marfell Kindergarten.

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Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern visited Marfell Kindergarten yesterday as part of a national "roadshow" talking about early childhood education.

Ms Ardern was accompanied by Labour list MP and candidate for the New Plymouth electorate Andrew Little.

Most of the focus on Labour's Best Start policy had been on the $60 weekly payment to families with newborn babies that earned up to $150,000, Ms Ardern said.

But there was also a strong early childhood component, she said.

"We want to increase free early childhood education hours from 20 to 25 hours for children aged 3 up to 5."

Labour had set out its timeline for returning to having fully qualified early childhood teachers, something that had been scrapped under National, she said.

"We disagreed and will be reinstating fully qualified teachers."

One of the impacts of the change was a lot of early childhood centres had wanted to keep their qualified staff, but because they were fully funded they had to pass on the cost to parents.

"Investing $1 early can save us $11 down the track in terms of the benefit for that child and family."

There were about 285,000 children or about 27 per cent of New Zealand children living in poverty, she said.

"Our concern, other than it is just not right in a country as prosperous as New Zealand, it also has a cost."

Research had shown the cost of child poverty was $6 billion a year.

"So if we start investing early, we will save money down the track."

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