The focus of the Government is to ensure high quality learning opportunities for young children by ensuring that all children have access to quality teaching. This focus reflects evidence that teachers are key influencers of successful long term educational outcomes for children and young people.
The challenge to achieving this for the early childhood sector is to be reflective, reflexive and innovative, working closely with whānau and parents to understand the learner and the context within which learning occurs for all children.
The Government has three priorities for ECE:
- building opportunity for all
- valuing families
- reaching higher education standards
Regular participation in high quality ECE has benefits for children’s early literacy and numeracy, and wider development of cognitive and learning skills upon starting school, and competencies throughout life. It can also help identify additional learning needs early, so that children get the support they need to succeed.
There is a consistent positive association between ECE participation and gains in mathematics, literacy and school achievement. 1 Regular participation in quality ECE can also encourage an active uptake of educational opportunities, increasing the likelihood of the child fulfilling their educational potential.
Participation in ECE triggers the shared responsibility of family and community for a child’s educational and social development. Partnerships are founded between educators and family members responsible for their children; community development is enabled through these partnerships, and can be transitioned into the formal school environment.
In this context, professional development is critical – it aims to strengthen the understanding and skills of ECE services so that they can best meet the learning needs of children.
1 Mitchell, Wylie and Carr, Outcomes of Early Childhood Education: Literature Review, Ministry of Education 2008
The government has confirmed a strong approach to improving education outcomes for Maori and Pasifika children. Key strategies that will support the sector to achieve improved outcomes for all learners are
- Ka Hikitia – Managing for success: the M?ori Education Strategy (2013 - 2017)
- the Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017
- the New Zealand Disability Strategy
Principles Underpinning Professional Development Programmes