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.
He taonga te tamaiti – Every child a taonga: Early learning action plan 2019-2029 sets the high level direction and vision for early learning for the next ten years.
The starting point of the action plan is that every child is a precious taonga, born with inherent potential for growth and development and with enduring connections to their ancestors and heritage.
The action plan outlines five interdependent objectives and 25 actions intended to work together to raise quality, improve equity and enable choice of service type.
The most significant actions in the plan relate to improving adult:child ratios; moving towards a fully qualified teacher workforce in teacher-led centres through incentives and regulation; improving the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions; and the development of a network management function for Government.
The action plan is aligned with other system reviews, strategies and initiatives underway in the education sector and across government, and also supports the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.
A draft plan was developed by a Ministerial Advisory Group, a larger Reference Group that includes sector stakeholders, and the Ministry of Education.
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. In November 2018, He taonga te tamaiti - Every child a taonga: Draft strategic plan for early learning 2019-29 was launched for public consultation. Substantial feedback was received which informs the action plan.
Overall, there was a high level of agreement with the recommendations of the draft strategic plan, with many respondents urging a focus on immediate action.
The action plan draws upon what New Zealanders said about the draft strategic plan and what they shared during Kōrero Mātauranga and is focused on change and transformation in early learning.
The plan is now entitled He taonga te tamaiti - Every child a taonga: early learning action plan 2019-29 to signal this Government’s commitment to leading improvements for our early learning system, so it enables all of our children to learn and thrive and experience a good life as New Zealanders.
The Government has considered the wide feedback on the draft strategic plan and developed this action plan. The Ministry will now work with the early learning sector, parents and whānau, hapū, iwi, communities and agencies to implement the actions in this plan.
Implementation of the actions in this plan will take a stepped approach over the next 10 years. Implementation will be contingent on Cabinet agreement to individual actions and future Budget processes.
A number of actions will require changes to one or more aspects of the regulatory framework that governs early learning services. The actions set out in this action plan requiring regulatory change should be understood as statements of intention, pending any necessary public consultation within the regulatory change process.
In early 2020, two hardcopies of the plan will be sent to every licensed service in New Zealand. Additional copies will be available to order from Down the Back of Chair.