Parents who have chosen privately owned early childhood services for their children have been put on notice by the Minister of Education, National Party spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Nicola Willis says.
“The Government is planning major changes to early childhood education through their Early Learning Strategic Plan. Terms of reference released yesterday indicate the Minister’s intention of ‘turning the tide away’ from private provision of early childhood education services,” Ms Willis says.
“By suggesting that the Government will move away from private early education the Education Minister is really saying that he doesn’t approve of parents’ choice of provider.
“Parents choose their children’s early childhood centres with care and every family’s circumstances are different. Any given centre, including a private centre, is chosen because it meets a family’s needs in terms of operating hours, location, philosophy and quality of education.
“Parents are best placed to make those choices. All centres, regardless of ownership structure, are required to meet Government-mandated quality standards. Private centres play an important role in the sector and have grown to meet the changing needs of families juggling work and children.
“It beggars belief that the Minister thinks he knows better than families what type of providers they should choose.
“New Zealand’s early childhood sector is rich because of the diversity of providers within it – from kindergartens and kōhanga reo to playcentres and home-based care.
“I’m sure parents around the country, like me, will welcome the Minister’s focus on the quality of learning in early childhood education. However, it’s reckless of him to link quality concerns with growth in privately run centres as the terms of reference for this review does.
“While a review of quality is welcome, the ownership structure of the providers should not come into it. The results for the child should be the focus.”