ECAC minutes and presentations February 2017

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 15 February 2017, 9am to 2:30pm at Ministry of Education, Mātauranga House, Wellington.


ECAC members

  • Charmaine Thomson, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Jo Young, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Tanya Harvey, Early Childhood Leadership
  • Evan Kidd, New Zealand Homebased Early Childhood Education Association
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa NZ
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation
  • Susan Bailey, New Zealand Playcentre Federation
  • Susan Foster-Cohen, Early Intervention Association Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Arapera Royal-Tangaere, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Keith Newton, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Clare Wells, New Zealand Kindergartens Inc
  • Josie Wall, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office

Ministry of Education

  • Susan Howan, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Anthony Newton, Senior Manager, ECE Resourcing and Implementation
  • Siobhan Murray, Senior Manager, ECE Policy
  • Nancy Bell, Director, Early Learning
  • James Johnson, Policy Analyst, ECE Policy
  • Kathryn Burch, Senior Adviser, ECE Implementation Planning (secretariat)


  • Deborah Wansbrough, Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Karen Affleck, The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools
  • Marianne Kayes, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Thelma Chapman, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Kararaina Cribb, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group

Welcome, karakia and introductions

Susan Howan, Ministry of Education

  • Susan welcomed the group and gave Katrina’s apologies; Clare Wells opened the meeting with a karakia.
  • Apologies, minutes and actions were previously circulated by email and confirmed.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline

Add action to December minutes for Ministry to respond to ECAC paper on Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako

Secretariat ASAP

Te Whāriki update consultation

Nancy Bell, Ministry of Education

  • Feedback received through the Te Whāriki update consultation has been analysed; Nancy is confident that the final draft will address concerns raised.
  • The RFP for PLD providers (external link)  to support engagement in the updated Te Whāriki and its implementation was published on GETS last month and closed yesterday.
  • Nancy offered briefings to all ECAC members over the next two weeks; an email setting out options for engagement will be sent following today’s meeting.  At these briefings, there will be an opportunity to discuss implementation support that might be required.
  • ECAC members were positive about the process and the briefings offered.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Email ECAC members options for Te Whāriki update briefings. Nancy Bell 17 February 2017

Review of Education Funding Systems

Damian Edwards, Ministry of Education

Refer to presentation slides [PPTX, 1.8 MB].


  • Damian provided some background on the Funding Review, as ECAC members have been engaged to a different degree.
  • It was noted that while schools and early learning services are funded differently, the overarching context and challenge is to ensure that the frame of reference is the child and their 0-18 pathway.
  • The aim of the Funding Review is to more accurately target funding to the size of the educational challenge and strive for equitable outcomes for all children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • To support decision-making, the Ministry established five technical reference groups.  Each group is at a different state of progress and has specific design objectives.  The groups are:
    1. Curriculum-based per child progress
    2. Dealing with disadvantage
    3. Small and isolated
    4. Property
    5. Using data to improve outcomes

Child-based funding model

  • The two current funding streams for the early learning sector are:
    1. The ECE subsidy – 30 hours per week for children 0-5 years; paid on a per place basis.
    2. 20 hours ECE – 20 hours per week for children 3-5 years; paid on a per child basis.

The proposed direction for change is to provide all ECE subsidies on a per-child basis.

Key discussion points:

  • Modelling shows the impact would be small – most services run on a per child basis already.
  • Some children attend for more than 30 hours at 2 services, eg centre and home- based.  The shift to child-based will mean that these children will only be eligible for a total of 30 hours across all services.  ECAC members questioned how this would be operationalised – whether the Ministry would determine how funding is split across services or whether parents would choose where to claim the government subsidy.  The intention is that parents would be able to choose where they  claim the 30 hours ECE (via attestation).
  • Damian and his team are open to suggestions on how this could work. 

Funding for disadvantage

  • Damian provided some background information on the predictive risk index.  There is information about this in the October 2016 Funding Review Cabinet Paper [PDF, 13 MB], and the concept was well-canvassed with advisory and cross-sector groups, and in regional forums.
  • The predictive risk index provides a more accurate way than the decile to identify children at greater risk of educational underachievement due to disadvantage.
  • The group noted that other policies needed to be in place to support these children, such as quality teaching.
  • Reference group members have previously discussed potential risk factors.  While some elements are predictive, it is how different factors work together which allows us to be more precise in identifying those at risk.  At the high end, the factors are:
    1. Proportion of time spent supported by benefits since birth
    2. CYF notification
    3. Gender
    4. Mother’s age at child’s birth
    5. Father’s offending and sentence history
  • We are not intending to identify specifically who the children are in each service that are identified as being at risk.
  • The index only gives an estimation of a child’s risk of not achieving.  The presence of these factors in a child’s circumstances is by no means a determination.
  • Equity funding has helped reduce disparities between groups and support services to raise children’s achievement, but there is room for improvement.
  • Currently, equity funding is provided at a service-level.  Funding is generated by every child, regardless of circumstance, within a service with an EQI of 1-4.  We are exploring a model where only children considered at risk generate additional funding.  There are two things to consider:
    1. How to identify children at greater risk of educational underachievement due to disadvantage.
    2. The amount of funding necessary to support services to raise achievement.

Key discussion points:

  • How often the assessment could be done – the equity index hasn’t been updated since 2006.
  • How the modelling would account for transient children – ELI will help with this.
  • Impact of cohort entry – large cohorts stating school will impact funding for schools and services.
  • Getting the threshold right.
  • The choices services will make on how the funding is used.
  • Damian explained that the data used for the risk index is gathered from multiple agencies and held by Statistics NZ.  The group noted the importance of ensuring the public is aware that the data is being used in this way; information about this has been published in the October 2016 Cabinet Paper [PDF, 13 MB].

Small and isolated services

  • We have just started exploring this element of the model.  The Ministry will come back to ECAC with further details when this workstream is further advanced.
  • The current isolation formula has not been updated since 2001.  It also refers to centres of 100,000 or more, and it’s not clear this is still relevant to a service’s isolation. 

Further information and input

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Circulate Siobhan Murray’s contact details to ECAC members. Secretariat ASAP
Send progression picture with slides Secretariat ASAP

OECD International Early Learning Study

Stuart McNaughton, Chief Education Scientific Adviser


  • Stuart presented an overview of the OECD’s proposed study to the group in his role as Chief Education Scientific Advisor. 
  • Some ECAC members expressed concern about the focus of the OECD work and that there has been no engagement with the sector to date.
  • NZ has not yet decided whether to participate.
  • The study is still under development.  The OECD is developing the study with participating countries – the maximum number of participating countries is 6.  In participating countries, the study will look to sample 3,000 children aged 5 to 5 ½ years, as well as survey parents and teachers.

Key discussion points:

  • Data suggests that it is difficult for children to catch-up if they are not making expected progress at a certain age.  What characteristics on school entry might be predictive?  Can we get these predictors from this study or should we be doing something else which is unique to our situation to get this?
  • PISA and TIMSS assessments have provided useful diagnostic information about our education system, and our numeracy strategy and changes in ITE reflect this.  This data has also reinforced the relationship between socio-economic status and scores on various measures, but we didn’t know before that the differences here are larger than in other countries.  These are the type of benefits of participating in international studies.
  • Sandra Collins has participated in some of the OECD ECEC network meetings (the ECEC Network oversees the Starting Strong series of publications. The International Early Learning Study originated in the ECEC Network, but is no longer overseen by this group).  The ECEC Network undertook a strand of work around monitoring quality and as a result a report has been produced, Starting Strong IV.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send link to OECD report Starting Strong IV [PDF, 801KB] (external link)  to ECAC members. Secretariat ASAP

Education Council’s leadership strategy

Frances Nelson, Centre for Leadership Excellence

  • The Education Council is commencing work on a leadership strategy, and Frances explained that she has taken up a new role with the Council to lead this work. 
  • Frances acknowledged that this type of work has not previously been done well with the early learning sector, so she wanted to engage with ECAC early in her tenure to explain that she sees engagement with the sector as important.
  • Frances encouraged ECAC members to think about what a leadership strategy for the sector might look like; she will invite members to upcoming events.
  • Although the Education Council is responsible for registration and certification, Frances explained that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the leadership strategy work preclude other parts of the sector, eg Playcentre.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline

Circulate Frances Nelson’s contact details to ECAC members.

Secretariat ASAP

Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako

Siobhan Murray, Ministry of Education

  • Siobhan tabled a paper which responded to the ECAC proposals submitted for and discussed at the ECAC meeting in December.  She acknowledged the work of the ECAC sub-group, which helped to shape the Ministry’s thinking on next steps.
  • The Ministry has already revised the website material and continues to work on new material and messaging.  A Gazette article about the Piritahi Community of Learning | Kahui Ako (external link) which includes early learning has recently been published.  The Ministry also regularly updates Education Counts (external link) and provides updated data to regional teams to support them to work with early learning services and schools.  The Ministry’s internal 0-18 pathway links have also been strengthened.
  • Some recommendations made by the ECAC sub-group are not able to be progressed.  The Ministry cannot prescribe the number and type of early learning services represented at leadership level within Communities of Learning |Kāhui Ako – this is up to each Community of Learning | Kahui Ako to determine.  Some roles are defined in Collective Agreements in the schooling sector and therefore the resourcing associated with these roles is not available to the early learning sector.
  • Siobhan also explained that we need to work within the current model of resourcing and maintain the pace of current approvals.
  • Clare thanked Siobhan for the Ministry’s response; she explained that one of the central concerns of the sub-group was to ensure that the early learning sector is part of the conversations that schools are having; some strong messaging to the sector will be important.
  • Tania Black explained that Ministry’s regional front-line staff are having these conversations as they work with services and schools, but nationally there is still some work to do. 
  • Some video footage is being prepared; this includes early learning and school sector.  The group acknowledged the need for more positive stories which show the early learning sector is included. 
  • Sandra Collins explained that ERO is doing some case studies; there may be an opportunity to include early learning services in the sample.  There is already some material published on ERO’s website (external link) .
  • That the Teacher Led Innovation Fund is now open to the early learning sector was acknowledged.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Email Ministry’s paper responding to ECAC proposals. Secretariat ASAP

Meeting closed 2:30pm

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