Sector wanys funding for fully qualified teachers

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 14:10 08/08/2014

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Funding for fully-qualified teachers in early childhood education looks set to be a hot button topic for the sector in the upcoming election.

The issue kept coming back on Thursday at a Hamilton meet the candidates meeting organised by the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education or OMEP.

Extra funding for centres which employed more than 80 per cent qualified staff was cut in 2010, meaning centres who chose to keep staffing at or above that level carried the cost.

Currently, early childhood education services are required to have only 50 per cent qualified and registered teachers and are funded only to a maximum of 80 per cent qualified teachers.

So murmurs of approval met Green party Hamilton East candidate Mark Servian's statement that restoring funding for 100 per cent qualified teachers was part of his party's plan.

''I saw an ad the other day that said 'Wanted, untrained [teacher]'. You don't see that with any other profession in the job title.''

Labour list MP and candidate for Hamilton West Sue Moroney agreed, and said she was worried about graduates and those who worked in centres while studying.

She had heard ''crushing'' stories - ''Once they become qualified actually they lose their job because their centre can no longer afford them.''

And Hamilton East candidate Cliff Allen said neo-liberalism had the education system ''held captive''.

But National MP for Hamilton West Tim Macindoe said there were more job opportunities and about 6600 more qualified teachers were in the system than in 2008.

Around 95 per cent of early childhood centres had at least 80 per cent qualified staff, Macindoe said. ''In an ideal world, of course we would want to see 100 per cent,'' he said.

A listener interjected to say the fully qualified teachers were in centres before National cut the funding.

But Macindoe said qualifications were a vital part of what a teacher delivered but not all of what a centre delivered.

'Where there are some in those centres who are supporting the work of the fully-qualified teachers, in the main that is an arrangement that is working.''

Spending in the early childhood sector had virtually doubled since 2008 and while it would be good to ''wave a magic wand and deliver all sorts of things'' there was a reality of $65b core Crown debt, he said.

He and National's Hamilton East MP David Bennett were further challenged by listeners, including on the difficulty for graduates looking for jobs and concern about private education providers they saw as putting profit first.

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However the small crowd was enthusiastic about Servian's statement that the Green party would ensure new early childhood centres would only be set up where a proven need existed in the network, Servian said.

This brought a loud ''yes'' from the crowd, one of whom later asked parties if they would consider stopping the funding of any further private centres.

And Moroney's mention that Labour would look at bringing early childhood education into the state sector also elicited cries of ''we'll be right behind you''.

- Waikato Times

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