Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Terms of reference announced for early education review

Minister for Regulation, David Seymour, has today announced the terms of reference for the sector review into early childhood education (ECE) by the new Ministry for Regulation – it will be the first review conducted by the Ministry.  

“Issues with affordability and availability of early childhood education, and the complexity of its regulation, has led to urgent calls from the sector to conduct a review,” said Mr Seymour.    

“ECE services provide families and parents a choice to confidently leave their children in the care of others so they can work, study or volunteer. It is particularly an enabler for parents who want to rejoin the paid workforce.”

Minister Seymour said parents want to know their child is safe and well cared for, but costs and waiting lists because of burdensome rules and regulations put ECE out of reach for many.  

“We have heard reports from centres around the country where teachers and carers are spending their time dealing with regulators and writing reports and plans on absurd things like the risk of apples falling from a tree in the playground, the first aid certificate being hung on the right-hand side of the doorframe instead of above it, or a train driver honking the train horn at the children as the train drives past every morning to the delight of the children but the chagrin of noise pollution police. I wish these examples were made up, but they are real,” he said.

“In some cases, existing regulation has not been effective at avoiding the harm it was seeking to prevent.  

“Clearly there is a need to assess the relevance and impact of regulation with the health, safety and wellbeing of children as the priority.  

“We will engage formally with teachers, centre owners, caregivers, parents, government agencies, child advocacy groups, unions, research bodies, and others connected to the sector to understand from the ground up where the problems are.  

“The review will include, but is not limited to, education, health, safety, child protection, food safety, buildings and workplaces as they relate to the early childhood education sector. It will not include funding, which will be separately reviewed.  

“In six months, a series of decisions will be put to cabinet proposing to change or remove rules and regulations that don’t stack up.” 

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