Fuseworks Media

Minister – Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

“Getting rid of Pay Parity in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector will send a message that we don’t value qualified teachers,” says Kathy Wolfe, CE Te Rito Maioha.

Pay Parity is not yet fully implemented, however when it is it “will set minimum salaries for ECE teachers based on their qualifications and years of experience. It’s not compulsory for employers, but when they opt into the scheme, they receive a higher funding rate per teacher. However, one of the main problems with the scheme, is that because the funding model for ECE is broken, so is the application of Pay Parity.”

“ECE centres often operate above the minimum ratio of teachers per child set in the 1960s. However, the government only fund for the outdated ratio of one teacher per five children (under two), and one teacher per ten children (from two to five),” says Mrs Wolfe.

“Another issue is that while Pay Parity makes more financial sense for a provider with relatively new teachers, the funding equation doesn’t work for providers with highly skilled teachers. So, what might work today, won’t make financial sense in three years’ time if you keep all your teachers because they will have moved up the pay scale.”

“These are problems that can be ironed out, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

“Pay Parity when fully implemented will ensure that we value our teachers, it values higher qualifications and it values experience. Fundamentally it’s a great idea and demonstrates a commitment to support the ongoing education and experience that ECE teachers have and the educational role they play with our tamariki.”

“It is concerning that Minister Seymour advised that pay parity is an ‘inflexible’ regulatory burden.” These statements are simply not accurate or helpful, and sector leaders look forward to sitting down with the Minister to discuss the issues.”

“The Minister is correct that there are issues with Pay Parity, getting the requirements and implementation wrong and funding being insufficient is the cause. But these are issues that can be fixed.”

“Throwing Pay Parity out as Minister Seymour suggests won’t solve anything, it will simply create new problems. It removes the minimum amount teachers can be paid and removes the matching of pay to qualifications and experience. That could lead to pay freezes and even cuts for ECE teachers.”

“There is currently a shortage of ECE teachers in NZ and Australia is now offering huge bonuses to poach our home-grown teachers. The removal of Pay Parity will only worsen staffing issues and likely increase the number of those leaving the sector for better pay and conditions elsewhere.”

“We need to remember that being a qualified teacher is professional and skilled work. Our Kaiako complete a degree, as well as work experience so they can understand how children learn and then put that into practice. They also are responsible for the well-being of that child, and must nurture our youngest citizens and then communicate each child’s journey to their whānau.”

“Any parent that’s ever looked after more than one child will know just how challenging that is and that’s before we consider that they have to gain teacher registration, undertake documentation, observations, activities, compliance, and regulations that teachers need to put in place to ensure quality education.”

“Teaching is a complex profession, they must collaborate, be innovative, work well as a team and have buckets of empathy. These are just some of the skills and qualities teachers are required to have and put into practice.”

“Pay Parity will provide professional recognition of the value of ECE teachers while also ensuring minimum standards in pay.”

“Sector leaders look forward to meeting with Minister Seymour,” says Kathy Wolfe. “We and teachers have ideas that will assist the Minister, and we look forward to commencing working together for the betterment of children and families in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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