Early Learning Regulatory Update – February 2017

Regulatory reminders for the Early Learning sector for February 2017 including Te Whāriki update, Application of 1:50 persons responsible ratio and more.

Te Whāriki update

The Ministry of Education commissioned an update of Te Whāriki following the recommendation from the Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL) that an update would support a stronger implementation of the curriculum. The Ministry worked with a group of sector experts, including practitioners and academics, to write a draft for people for wide consultation.

Consultation began on a draft version of Te Whāriki on 4 November and ran for 6 weeks, closing on 16 December 2016.

The consultation period provided multiple opportunities for engagement with the early learning sector, schools, parents and whānau to attend one of 36 face-to-face hui nationwide and engage with an online survey. The nationwide hui were attended by more than 1400 people who all provided feedback.

The online survey received 774 responses. The majority of responses were from the early childhood sector. All feedback was carefully considered and has informed the update.

A launch date for the final version of Te Whāriki has yet to be confirmed.

A summary of the consultation feedback received, along with corresponding changes the Ministry has made, will be made public at the time of the launch.

Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback. We are preparing our youngest children for the future, and this begins with quality early learning and an empowering curriculum.

More information on the Te Whāriki update can be found at Education.govt.nz/updating-te-whariki. 

Application of 1:50 person responsible ratio for home-based ECE services

In the December issue of He Pānui Kōhungahunga – the Early Learning Bulletin, we clarified that regulation 44(1)(d)(ii) of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 applies to all home-based early childhood education (ECE) services.

Every licensed home-based service must have one person responsible for every 50 children attending (1:50). At any time a service has 51-80 children attending, there must be two persons responsible.

Further information on the 1:50 person responsible requirement is available on Education.govt.nz.

The person responsible, often called the coordinator, has primary responsibility for overseeing the education and care, comfort and health and safety of the children attending the service. Home-based services must ensure that a person responsible is available for all hours children attend, and that the person responsible is ECE qualified and registered with a current practising certificate.

A person can be named as the person responsible for more than one service. However, they cannot be responsible for more than one service at the same time. Service providers with multiple services must ensure that each service meets the ratio requirements.

If you have any queries regarding the 1:50 person responsible requirement, please contact your regional licensing advisor in the first instance. 

Early learning services and the new food safety law

Does your early learning centre serve food? If so, you may need to register under the new Food Act by 31 March 2017.

What’s the new Food Act?

The Food Act 2014 is a new law which aims to improve food safety, including in schools and early childhood centres. It applies to childcare centres that sell food or provide food as part of a paid service. There are different rules for different businesses, depending on what they do.

What do you need to do?

All ECE services must ensure the food they serve is safe and suitable to eat. ECE centres or kōhanga reo that cook meals, or prepare food like sandwiches or salads, need to register and meet some requirements. Most ECE centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals and food to children will operate under national programme 2, a set of rules for those serving medium to lower risk foods.

You’ll need to:

  • register with your local council – if you have centres in more than one council area you can choose to register with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) instead
  • meet food safety requirements and keep some records
  • get checked by a food safety verifier to ensure you are doing everything right.

New centres need to register under the Food Act as soon as they open. Existing centres must apply to register by 31 March 2017.

By 30 June 2017, existing ECE centres and kōhanga reo on national programme 2 must be registered and meeting requirements.

What are the costs?

You will need to pay for registration and verification (being checked). Verification agencies set their own fees and hourly rates vary from $115 to $210. We expect verification to take around 2 to 3 hours in most ECE centres and kōhanga reo if there are no food safety issues. Registration is once every 2 years and each council sets their own fees. You will be verified once every 3 years if you are managing food safety well.

Organising a verifier

Agencies that can verify you are listed on the MPI website (external link) . You need to contact one before you register, but you won’t be verified straight away. Existing centres have up to a year after they’ve registered to have their first verification.

A few ECE centres have experienced problems finding a verifier in their area. MPI is currently putting in place an action plan that will increase the number of verifiers across the country and ensure consistent, affordable pricing. If you cannot find a verifier in the price range above please contact MPI at info@mpi.govt.nz.

More information and useful resources

Speak to your local council about registering or visit the MPI website for more information at www.mpi.govt.nz/foodact (external link) .

Useful resources include:

If you’re not sure whether you need to register use the Where do I fit? (external link) tool on the MPI website.

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