Media Releases

Early childhood teachers head to Parliament to save pay parity scheme

19 Jun 2024

Early childhood kaiako and tamariki will go to Parliament tomorrow to present their eleven thousand-strong petition calling on the Government to ensure the current pay parity scheme for qualified early childhood teachers continues in the face of sweeping and swift change being made in the sector.

The petition calls on the Government to acknowledge the value of early childhood teachers by keeping pay parity, and to protect and respect both teachers and tamariki by creating safe, high-quality working and learning conditions. It has been signed by more than 11,000 people and was initiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa members.

Early childhood centre manager and union leader Megan White says pay parity, which means qualified early childhood teachers are paid on par with their teaching colleagues in kindergarten, primary, and secondary, is essential to address the chronic staffing shortage and attract new teachers into the profession.

"We need the Government to genuinely listen to the voices of the thousands of kaiako who work with our youngest learners every day. Pay parity is a right that early childhood kaiako fought to win for decades and if removed it will set us back decades too.

"Early childhood education is a public good that sets the foundations for the rest of a child's life. Yet early childhood and kindergarten teachers have repeatedly told us that their sector is in crisis with poor overall pay, stretched teacher-to-child ratios, increasing workloads, children presenting with more complex needs – all as they try to cope with an ongoing staffing shortage."

White says the recently announced sector regulatory review also has the potential to put funding for parity at risk, as well as undermining recent progress in the sector in the name of profit.

"The regulatory review will be quick, with proposed sector changes likely to go before Parliament in October and minimal consultation time of around only six weeks. It's not possible nor democratic for kaiako, kaimahi, whānau and their communities to meaningfully begin to address the issues they face with such a short timeframe.

"The review is another example of a fast-tracked process which fails to address the concerns teachers have been raising for years.

"The solutions we need to see are fully resourcing teachers with adequate teacher-to-child ratios and enough staff to ensure our children have the high-quality education that they deserve. That's why we're marching to Parliament with our youngest learners. We should never lose sight of the tamariki – setting them up well for life is what this sector is about."