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Current situation

Margaret and Linley are both Pākehā educators who work for the same service provider in Tauranga. Margaret is in her late 40s or early 50s. She is a registered nurse with no ECE qualifications. She became an educator when her own children were ECE-aged, and stayed when her children started school. Margaret has been an educator for 20 years now. She looks after nine different children over the course of the week.

Linley is in her late 50s or early 60s and has been an educator for 38 years. She has no ECE qualifications, but has 100 points of a playcentre qualification and has completed two Level 3 ECE papers through the Open Polytechnic. Linley did the Open Polytechnic papers when she first started and government was going require eight Introduction to ECE papers. She didn’t finish the qualification because the requirement for the eight papers was removed. She works 7.30am to 6pm and usually has four children with her over the course of the day. She looks after eight different children over the course of the week. This includes one child on a Saturday whose parents work in the retail sector as well as a number of pick-ups from kindergarten during the week.

Both educators like the flexibility of being able choose who they work with. They enjoy the relationships with parents and children, which are maintained even after children start school. They consider their experience as educators and all of the professional development they have taken part in over the years is equivalent to a Level 4 qualification.

They set their own fees for parents. They charge parents between $6 and $7.50 per child per hour. If they know parents are struggling with money, they drop their prices for that family. They also provide discounts for siblings.

Their service provider collects the fees from parents. The service provider pays the educators the parental fees even if parents are late or default on payments – the service provider has responsibility for chasing up parents for fees. The service provider does not pay educators any of the ECE subsidy for under 2s or 2 and overs. For 20 Hours ECE, the service provider pays the educators $6 per child per hour.

The service provider is a medium sized provider with multiple licences across Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Wellington. Its services include nannies and family caregivers in addition to educators working in their own homes.

The service provider provides regular professional development and evening workshops for educators. Their visiting teachers visit more than once a month because of the number of children the educators look after (visiting teachers must observe each child in the home once a month). One visit focuses on professional development and next steps, one visit involves going through photos and writing learning stories. The service provider also provides regular playgroups overseen by visiting teachers.

What the changes could mean

Both Margaret and Linley are very reluctant to enrol in the Level 4 qualification. Their service provider is keen to keep them as educators, because they have a proven track record and are committed to the industry. The service provider looks into whether there are processes that could recognise these educators’ existing skills and experience to eliminate the need for the qualification. Some tertiary providers offer recognition of prior learning (RPL), but only for up to half of the course. The price of RPL and the remainder of the course is the same as doing the full course.

Although Margaret and Linley resent the time and cost of undertaking study, the service provider convinces the educators to undertake RPL and the remainder of the course. The service provider pays half of the cost of RPL and the course, the educators must pay for the other half. Their experience means that they already know at least half of the course content. They complete the other half of the qualification, which takes them six to eight months to complete. About half of the course content is information they are already familiar with, the other half is new information. The new information enhances their practice – they are better able to recognise children’s development and learning milestones.

While they are studying, they cut back their hours, which means they work with fewer children and families. Once they have completed their study, they go back to the same hours as before. Their income remains the same.