High Early Childhood Centre Teacher Attrition Rate Can’t be Blamed on Covid-19

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high teacher attrition and children leaving

The centre had a really high teacher attrition rate indicative of poor human resource management. The owner – a large Company – had the attitude that if parents didn’t like how it was managed, they could leave.

This opinion article is published as part of our ‘Speaking-up series
November 18, 2021.
By Auckland parent.

I chose an early childhood service for its amazing team of teachers and mixed age space for children. The teachers were open, welcoming and my children loved them instantly. But the teachers started leaving around 6 months after I enrolled my first child. The announcements telling us they were going often came only a few days before they left. The manager was split across three services – the bubbly awesome person who had sold us her world was suddenly never in it.  The pressure this put on the team was obvious. They tried their best but no one could work well under the conditions they were put in. As a result, another flock of teachers left.

Then they moved the manager on and replaced her with a new, inexperienced teacher. She stayed in the job for only a few weeks. Before she left, she was frank about her reasons for going – when she informed management of issues, she was told that if parents didn’t like it, they could always leave.

A couple of weeks before my second child was due to start we were approached by management. They said the centre was no longer going to accept children under the age of two because “it wasn’t what the community was wanting.” However, the community was not consulted.   

It was at this point that everything disintegrated. There was a mass resignation and every staff member decided they were leaving. I should add here that none of the teachers who had left previously were replaced. By this point every staff member consisted of the three qualified one unqualified teachers and the cook. They were the only people in this very large centre left. The teacher attrition rate was clearly very high. From what I was told by teachers money was thrown around that wasn’t seen before and a bit of begging from upper management occurred. This saved two teachers and the cook.

But now parents have been told the centre will be closing in December. The centre’s lease is up in Feb and they don’t plan to renew it. I’m sure the management will blame COVID for its staffing issues if ever asked.  The three staff they kept were blindsided by the news, as parents got the email. There was no consultation. The teachers they saved with promises and guilt trips now face redundancy just before Christmas.

Someone from the company called to ask if they could help us transfer to another of their centres. They couldn’t tell me where my children’s teachers were going or where their friends would be. The company has another centre less than 10 minutes away and it is low in child numbers. Had the company really cared about the children they would have found a way to transfer children and their teachers to the closest centre in their own little bubble – maintaining relationships, making the transition easier and keeping wellbeing at the heart of the decision.

I have never felt more like my children are numbers and dollar signs than I do right now.


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