ERO finds hundreds of ECE services are substandard

18 December 2016

NZEI Te Riu Roa is concerned about the quality of safety, care and learning of thousands of young children enrolled in 220 ECE services identified as substandard.
Education Review Office data shows 220 Early Childhood Education Services were red flagged as "requiring further development "or "not well placed" in October this year.  A high proportion were home-based care.

The Education Ministry has also confirmed that 54 services were only provisionally licensed after being found in breach of their license conditions, with many lacking basic "adult knowledge".

"It is disturbing that thousands of very young children are spending up to five days a week in services that could be harmful for their health and wellbeing. Clearly, the current funding and delivery model is not working for our children and must be addressed," said NZEI Te Riu Roa Early Childhood representative Virginia Oakly.

"These children are not only being denied the great start other children get from a quality early childhood education, but they may even be in physical danger. Some of these centres were over capacity, didn't have first aid kits, and even had alcohol around the children.

"This calamity is entirely the responsibility of the Government, which for the past six years has chosen to cut funding for quality ECE, and encouraged the proliferation of cheap-to-run services, despite repeated warnings from the sector that it was putting children at risk.
"All the evidence shows that low quality ECE is harmful for children, yet the Government has continued to aggressively recruit more children to ECE in order to meet its target of having 98 percent of children attend before school,” said Ms Oakly.’

Quality problems in ECE appear to be getting worse, as last year ERO identified 150 services requiring "further development" or needing a supplementary review. Thirty were on provisional licences.

Since 2010, funding for centres with 100% qualified teachers has been cut and increased funding has been only to cover the costs of increased enrolments. Per-child funding has dropped $500 per annum in that time.

This has caused a severe funding squeeze that has led to sharp increases to parent fees in some places, a deterioration of child-to-teacher ratios, and increasing reliance on unqualified staff.

"We're demanding funding be immediately restored to ECE, and all services funded to employ 100 percent qualified teachers, so every child has access to the best education. We think every child is worth it," said Ms Oakly.