There is to be an ECE Teacher Pay mass meeting on Sunday 14th July 3 – 5 pm in Wellington.
Early childhood education has long been considered the Cinderella of the education sector.
Early childhood teachers in general are treated badly as the Cinderellas of the teaching workforce.
The time to change this is now!
It is time for the value of early childhood education to be recognised – starting with addressing issues of early childhood teacher pay.
We could keep waiting patiently for another year, 5, 10, or 20 years, hoping that maybe just maybe this will be achieved for us.
But for the sake of children and the safety and quality of ECE we need to take action NOW. We are seeing no improvements and the situation is getting worse. The vast majority of early childhood teachers are not state sector employees. They are not represented by the teacher’s union (NZEI).
Early childhood teachers are not babysitters. They are education professionals. This is the case in all teacher-led services, including home-based, kindergartens, hospital-based, and all centres.
Why are we having the mass meeting on ECE teacher pay?
Early childhood teachers are required to undergo the same level and rigour of training as teachers who work in the primary and secondary school systems.
After completing a degree in teaching they must meet the same standards of practice as primary and secondary teachers for a practising certificate.
Early childhood teachers work not only with children but also closely with parents and whānau. Working with young children is intellectually demanding. It is also physically hard work and requires teachers to have tremendous knowledge, skill, sensitivity and care.
The early foundations of learning for children are vitally important to get right. Quality teaching is the key lever for improving outcomes for diverse children (Ministry of Education Best Evidence Synthesis, Sarah Alexander, 2003). Relationships and trust in the adult are central to quality. No child should arrive in the morning at their service to find their key teacher or primary caregiver gone due to low pay and/or bad work conditions.
Therefore, we must pay our early childhood teachers at least equivalent to teachers of older children in schools. Early childhood teacher wage levels should reflect the often greater number of child contact hours and days required to be present at work (longer terms and/or lack of school holiday breaks).
We need to stop asking early childhood teachers to sacrifice their earning. We need to stop asking teachers to sacrifice their well-being and their own family’s well-being to subsidise the cost to government of early childhood education.
It is not right to ask early childhood teachers to accept low wages so parent fees can be kept low, or so that shareholders or owners will earn more, or so that the saving in wages can fund new services and expansion.
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