Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Task Force Report will be released tomorrow. Check out this news item from the New Zealand Herald, Tuesday 31 May 2011. Clearly some indications of what is coming in the Task Force Report tomorrow.

Help parents choose, urge preschool reviewers
By Martin Johnston

Spending on high-quality early childhood education has been shown to help children at school and in their adult lives.
"A major review of early childhood education will urge the Government to overhaul performance reporting to make it easier for parents to compare centres.

Education Minister Anne Tolley set up the taskforce in October to review the effectiveness of the Government's spending on early childhood education, set at $1.4 billion in the 2010-11 Budget. Families of the 188,924 children enrolled in licensed services pay the rest, estimated to be at least $350 million. The taskforce will release its report tomorrow.

Its chairman, Dr Michael Mintrom, associate professor of political studies at Auckland University, told the Herald its recommendations would include providing performance reports for parents. "We took the view, very much echoed in submissions, that parents don't have adequate information for making good decisions about the kind of services they want to use. "The Education Review Office does review services, but those reviews are done primarily with services themselves as the audience.

"It's often difficult for parents to decipher from those reports what would work for their child and which services are working better than others."  On Saturday, Professor Mintrom told the Early Childhood Council conference in Wellington that his group would recommend steps be taken to raise the overall quality in the sector and to reduce the variance in quality between centres.  The next day, he said there was good evidence that spending on high-quality early childhood education helped children at school and in their adult lives. The effects were greatest among children from low-income backgrounds.

Early childhood education enrolment rates were generally high, but investment was needed to increase participation from lower-income families. More funding was needed to achieve many of the recommended improvements, Professor Mintrom said, but the group recognised the financial constraints on the Government. "We are suggesting this is something we move towards, particularly when the country is in a better fiscal position," said the former Treasury economist. "Maybe there's room for reprioritisation ... We've suggested areas where you might look."

He wouldn't reveal those areas.

The Childcare Association's chief executive, Nancy Bell, said it was concerned that reprioritisation would mean more children were enrolled, but the amount of state funding stayed the same.
"We're all wondering where that money might come from. I suppose it might come from the end of 20 hours ECE, which is something we think has been very good because it enables every 3- and 4-year-old to have 20 hours free, or relatively free."

Mrs Tolley wouldn't comment on the report before its release, but did say she would consult on its recommendations.

"Any major plans for change will form part of our election campaign."

On Saturday, she outlined to the conference the Government's efforts to reach those missing out on early childhood education, including a quarter of Pasifika children and a fifth of Maori children."

Tomorrow this Task Force Report will be released. The Minister will no doubt be listening very carefully to the recommendations of this group. It is vital the the early childhood sector responds to the Task Force and makes its voice heard.

For your information the members of this Task Force are:  

Professor Richie Poulton is the Chairperson of this Task Force. Ritchie is the Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit at the University of Otago. The other members of the Taskforce are-

  • Associate Professor Michael Mintrom. Michael is an Associate professor of Political Studies at the University of Auckland
  • Emeritus Professor Anne Smith. Anne is the former Director of the Children's Issues Centre at the University of Otago. 
  • Aroaro Tamati. Aroaro is the Director of a Maori Immersion EC Centre  Te Kōpae Piripono. 
  • Tanya Harvey. Tanya is the General Manager of the Auckland Kindergarten Association.
  • Claire Johnstone. Claire is the General Manager of Business Services for the Hutt City Council.  
  • Laurayne Tafa. Laurayne is the Principal of Homai School in Manurewa
  • Peter Reynolds. Peter is the Chief Executive of the ECC.
  • Ron Viviani is the Sole Director of a Pasifika ECE Management Consultancy company in Auckland.

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