Media Releases

Largest ECE survey in years, Kōriporipo, highlights teachers under pressure

27 Sept 2023

The largest survey of the early childhood sector in Aotearoa in recent years, Kōriporipo, shines a light on the immense pressures facing ECE kaiako and kaimahi and makes recommendations that could transform the sector.

Undertaken by NZEI Te Riu Roa, the most alarming findings in the survey relate to child to teacher ratios. Nearly 90% of respondents agree that current ratios do not enable the best quality learning environment for tamariki. 65% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that current ratios make it ‘impossible to satisfy health and safety requirements’.

Sandie Burn, a kindergarten kaiako and National Executive ECE representative at NZEI Te Riu Roa, says that moments to engage tamariki in quality teaching and learning are stretched thin.

“The ratio of one teacher to ten 2 year-olds makes it extremely difficult to have quality interactions with tamariki. Quality interactions are what lead to positive learning outcomes.

“These times are often interrupted by the need to support tamariki with care moments such as changing nappies or supporting a tamaiti with additional needs. Ratios become further stretched which adds more demands on to the remaining teachers.”

The survey, run by NZEI Te Riu Roa, also highlights issues of ECE staff doing more crowd control rather than teaching, the increasing workload pressures for staff and private sector troubles.

Nearly half of respondents (44%) said they spend up to an hour or more each day performing unpaid work. NZEI Te Riu Roa estimate this could amount to $2m in unpaid wages nationally every week of the year.

Burn says that in a sector that already faces staff shortages, the current pressures on ECE kaiako and kaimahi are only going to drive further burnout.

“We need a funding system that ensures all ECE kaiako and kaimahi are paid fairly for their mahi.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa provides five recommendations in its report. These include: implementing improved teacher-child ratios, investing in kaiako and kaimahi, learning support for all who need it, fixing the funding system and prioritising Māori, Pasifika, and community-based provision.

Reweti Elliott, a kindergarten teacher in Kawerau, says that early childhood education provides the foundations of learning for tamariki.

“We want to see the recommendations made in the report being acted upon to ensure that each child, across the motu, has the best start to their education.”


Notes to editor

The survey report can be read here.

Over 4000 responses were received to the survey. Nearly half (46%) of participants have been working in the sector for over 14 years. This shows that despite the challenges, the kaiako and kaimahi that work in this sector are dedicated to their work with the youngest ākonga in Aotearoa.

Teachers are available for comment and interview.