Media Releases

ECE focus should be on lower ratios and better pay

25 May 2023

NZEI Te Riu Roa, New Zealand’s largest education union, welcomes the extension of 20 hours early childhood education (ECE) to two-year-olds because it means greater equity of access for tamariki and their families.

The policy announced in last week’s Budget has come under criticism from some parts of the early childhood sector, who say that the new funding conditions are unworkable.

The union, representing kaiako and kaimahi in the sector, said that any new policy should be debated, but the more important argument should be around how to deliver quality outcomes for tamariki by improving ratios and making teaching attractive and sustainable.

NZEI Te Riu Roa member Megan White, an ECE head teacher speaking on behalf of educators in the sector, said that the focus should be on lowering the size of groups and ratios of children to teachers.

“Lower teacher to child ratios and pay that recognises the specialised expertise of ECE teachers are markers of high quality, early education and we want children in Aotearoa to have the best ECE possible.

“As long as we continue to have an ECE system run on competition and dominated by for-profit providers, the viability of services will always be precarious, and quality will be compromised. This is not acceptable because the losers in this system have always been children and their teachers.

“Our vision is for publicly funded and delivered ECE services that focus on high quality teaching and learning, not profit. As a union we’re using levers such as the Fair Pay Agreement to push for better standards across the sector.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa is calling on kaiako or kaimahi working in the ECE sector to fill out the following survey:

NZEI Te Riu Roa has also set up a submission to the pay parity funding review: