About the ECE Employment National Survey

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ECE Sector Employment Survey.
A Description.

The ECE Employment Survey is an internal sector survey. The purpose of running the survey is to gain insight into the employment, wellbeing, and work environment of teaching staff in government licensed early childhood services.

The results are used to identify potential issues for further investigation, and inform and guide improvements both for the teaching staff and for children. Sections of the results are analysed separately and used for our information in identifying issues and changes in the sector. 

We also prepare small easy-to-read reports on the findings related to different topics and these are made available on our website.

Why survey teaching staff?

In New Zealand the quality of ECE is reported on in various ways and each approach serves a different purpose.  

The Education Review Office (ERO) reviews ECE services on average every 3.5 years. Services can prepare and put on their best show for a visit by reviewers that mostly involves reviewers talking with the service provider or manager and looking at written documentation. The main purpose of the review is for reporting back to government on the efficiency of education services, ensuring the effective use of public funds.

My ECE compiles key details on the features and quality of individual services. For example, it shows services that have had their licence downgraded for non-compliance. Users add their reviews thereby giving new parents further insight into the individual service.  The main purpose of My ECE is to educate parents about ECE and support them in making an informed choice. 

The Ministry of Education carries out an annual census of ECE services, and asks questions on staffing and children. The census provides a large data set that is used for informing policy on ECE and funding.  But the insight it provides is limited by the fact that the data is generated from service owners/ providers.

It is helpful to have data from other sources, such as teaching staff, to provide a check on reliability and additional insights. Teaching staff are working on the ground. They have an intimate knowledge of what is happening in practice – they know what’s happening behind closed doors.

Background to the ECE Employment Survey

The ECE Sector Employment Survey is an online survey that was first developed by Dr Sarah Alexander with assistance from three ECE practitioners who advised on question selection and gave feedback on the survey wording and format.  It was tested by 10 teachers who worked in various kinds of ECE services, reviewed, and then retested by 3 different teachers before it was implemented for the first time in 2014.    

The main topics or areas under which the questions fall are:

  • Wages, benefits, and employment conditions
  • The quality of the ECE setting for children, including things like whether respondents feel they have time to develop individual relationships with children
  • Working conditions and wellbeing, including stress level, workplace injury, workplace bullying and employer-employee relationships
  • Demographics and personal characteristics, which includes qualification status, gender, type of service they work at, geographical area they live in, and union membership.

Participants are provided with a link to the online survey.  They can spend anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes on the survey (the average is around 8 – 10 minutes) depending on how much in the way of comments they wish to contribute. 

In the wake of the measles outbreak in 2019 it was decided to include a new topic question in the 2020 survey asking respondents to indicate if they were immunised against several well-known vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.  

Who is surveyed and participation

Teaching staff self-select to participate in the survey. 

Teaching staff are defined as people who are counted as part of the teaching team in a licensed early childhood service/s, are in casual or regular employment, and includes teachers who may be on sick or other leave at the time of the survey. Teaching staff does not include self-employed persons and service owners even if an owner is also a teacher in their service, volunteers, and independent contractors. 

Participation is voluntary. No incentive or payment is offered. There is no obligation on the part of any person to engage in the survey.  

The survey is advertised via a call for participants that goes out on our mailing list and social media channels.

Numbers participating in the survey have increased each time it has been carried out.  This suggests two things to us: people see value in contributing and people trust the survey.   

Ethical considerations

We are committed to protecting participant identity and protecting participants from harm. Participants are not asked for their names and they may do the survey anonymously.

No individual forms are ever shared with survey respondents or published electronically, in print or in any form. 

No person is compelled to participate. People can choose not to do the survey after receiving or viewing the survey.  

Previous ECE Sector Employment Surveys




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