Like me, I am sure you are looking forward to a good break. Let’s hope the weather improves across the country!
The past year has been another busy one for Te Rito Maioha and early childhood education (ECE) in New Zealand.
There has been a lot of kōrero and consultation! In May, I attended one of the Education Summits in Auckland, along with 1400 others with a passion for education. The Summit signalled the start of a lot of work on the education agenda. For the early childhood sector, it heralded the start of work on the much-awaited Early Learning Strategic Plan and Education Workforce Strategy, and the review of home-based early childhood education. Over the past 12 months, we have completed more than 30 submissions relating to the various reviews that touch ECE.
As you will know, teacher shortage stories have played out across the media all year and have obviously caught the attention of the government.
That is why we were disappointed when the government did not prioritise early childhood teachers in its teacher recruitment drive. However, with colleagues from other early childhood organisations, we have been lobbying to have early childhood teachers added to Immigration New Zealand’s Skills Shortage List. That said, we recognise that bringing in overseas teachers is not without its challenges, but it is one way to address the shortage.
We would like to see the government do a lot more to make an early childhood education teaching career more attractive, and to ensure that once qualified and experienced, early childhood teachers stay and thrive in the profession. We have been lobbying for pay parity, 100% qualified teachers in teacher-led services, improved teacher to child ratios, and smaller group sizes.
The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins spoke at our conference in July this year. In his speech, he promised to provide our sector with more support during the term of this government. Rest assured, at every opportunity, Te Rito Maioha is working to ensure that the government delivers on this commitment.
In late November, the Minister launched consultation on the Early Learning Strategic Plan. It was encouraging to hear him talk about his plan for high quality, early learning and announce $3.5 billion to support early childhood services, including money to address salary and working conditions. We hope that these potential policy changes will assist ECE services to attract and retain new people into a teaching career in early childhood.
For Te Rito Maioha, this year has been all about growth – the development of four new programmes, and professional learning and development to meet the needs of our members.
I am proud of what Te Rito Maioha has done to ensure we provide high quality initial teacher education, and professional learning and development. I am also pleased to report that applications to study with us in 2019 are up, which is a good in terms of ensuring a qualified workforce for early childhood in the future.
We will be launching our new professional learning and development platform in late January, called Whāngaia kia kaha | 'Nurturing potential, building strength'. Our first programme, A deeper understanding of Te Whāriki, has been our flagship. We have received amazing feedback on this programme and look forward to completing more in 2019. Keep a look out for our calendar of programme offerings.
We have decided not to hold a conference in 2019. We have taken feedback on board as well as this year’s disappointing turnout and are planning a new and fresh conference in early 2020 in Wellington. We would like to see as many of you there as possible. A 'save the date' invitation will be coming out early in the new year.
Finally, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your continued interest in and support for Te Rito Maioha. We value our relationship with you and long may it last.
Nō reira ki a koutou katoa, haere pai, haere ora, haere manawanui.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
To each of you, go well, be well, remain steadfast. Thank you all.
Have a great break and see you next year.