ECAC Minutes, August 2020

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 20 August 2020, 10am to 11.30am via video conference (Zoom).


ECAC members

  • Arapera Royal-Tangaere, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa NZ
  • Lee Jones, Early Intervention Association Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Shelley Hughes, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Sandie Burn, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  • Heather Taylor, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Jenny TePunga-Jurgens, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Jill Bond, New Zealand Kindergartens Inc
  • Susan Phua, New Zealand Homebased Early Childhood Education Association
  • Calmar Ulberg, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Karen Affleck, Steiner Education Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Nicola Woollaston, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Sean McKinley, Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa - Playcentre Aotearoa
  • Shelley Mickell, Auckland Kindergarten Association
  • Jayne Franklin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Poppy Shelton, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Christina Thornley, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

Ministry of Education

  • Helen Hurst (chair), Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Nancy Bell , Director, Early Learning, Early Learning and Student Achievement (ELSA)
  • Siobhan Murray, Senior Manager, ECE Policy, Education System Policy (ESP)
  • Keith Newton, Group Manager, ECE Resourcing and Operations, SE&S
  • Andrew Webber, Chief Economist, Education Data & Knowledge
  • Tara Taylor-Jorgensen, Principal Adviser, Pathways & Progress, ELSA
  • Christine Dew, Senior Manager, Curriculum Design, ELSA
  • Stephen Raynes, Principal Adviser, Curriculum Design, ELSA
  • Shannon Andrews, Lead Adviser, Change & Implementation, ELSA
  • Timothy Teng (secretariat), Senior Adviser, Early Learning, ELSA


  • Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Virginia Simmonds, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Angus Hartley, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office
  • Jo Lambert, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Pauline Winter, Auckland Kindergarten Association
  • John Brooker , Group Manager, ECE and Budget teams, ESP

COVID-19 Alert Level 3 & 2: Response and support

Helen Hurst, Ministry of Education

Sector response to Alert Levels – ECAC members observations:

  • Alert Level 2 is affecting kaiako who have limited sick leave available for self-isolation. This is particularly challenging when awaiting Covid-19 test results for those exhibiting either minor symptoms or no symptoms. Discretionary leave has been utilised by some members. Helen agreed that this is an issue of concern, but unfortunately there is no provision currently outside of existing collective agreements.
  • Loss of income is an emerging issue for homebased educators who are unable to operate due to other household members needing to self-isolate.
  • Some early learning services are unable to apply for the wage subsidies any more, as they no longer qualify for the threshold.
  • Alert Level 3 for Auckland has provided challenges for services deciding which children of essential workers to allow to attend. The Ministry will provide further messaging for the sector on this.
  • Changes between alert levels can be more effectively managed if early learning services have more time to prepare. Helen agreed that more preparation time is useful for services and the Ministry will provide clear messaging for future alert level shifts, including any ‘teacher-only’ times that the Ministry could advise on.
  • Some services are wary of their growing staff annual leave balances under Alert Level 3, which may become a financial strain when staff all want to take accumulated leave.

Further sector responses and views were invited to be directed to Keith Newton, who will provide the Ministry’s response.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Provide messaging to sector for services in Alert Level 3 who have children of essential workers attending Keith Newton ASAP 
Prepare messaging to sector to clarify when and who can return to premises when alert level shift Keith Newton As work progresses
Provide any further sector feedback on Alert Level 3 & 2 to Keith Newton ECAC members ASAP

ECE attendance data

Andrew Webber, Ministry of Education

Andrew provided a presentation on the impacts of COVID-19 on ECE:

  • It was noted that these are preliminary results and should be treated with caution. The slides summarised data that is available in the Early Learning Information (ELI) system as of early August 2020. ELI does not include all services (most notably ngā kōhanga reo) and there may be a lag in entering data into ELI for some services. The counting rules used for this analysis may not be consistent with what is used in official reporting, and so this data may differ from what is ultimately published. These slides are not for further distribution.
  • ECE hours (quantity of time attending) normally fluctuate across the year, and so a comparison was made between 2019 and 2020 participation. 2019 is a fairly good indicator because up to the first case of COVID-19 this year, participation for both years were similar.
  • Across Level 1 there was both a 6% reduction in hours attended, and a 3% reduction in children attending/absent. This implies that half of the change in hours attended is due to children leaving the ECE system, and the other half is due to children not leaving, but reducing their hours.
  • The change in numbers of children is due to fewer new enrolments this year. The larger reduction in the number of under 2 year old children implies that there could be economic barriers which fits with what was published by Statistics New Zealand recently on labour force participation.
  • There was a 31% increase of 5 year old children staying in ECE. There may be changes in parenting decisions around staying in ECE at age 5.
  • When comparing between service types, there was little change in education and care services, but a greater reduction in participation for kindergartens (21% reduction) and homebased services (13%). However, kindergartens and homebased services are most affected by the lag in data (particularly in school holidays), and so this data may not be accurate yet.
  • In regards to equity gaps, reduction in participation occurred more in Pacific children. This could be related to more conservative perspectives on participation in light of the recent measles outbreak.

Next steps:

  • The Ministry has provided these insights and more detailed reports to regional offices, so they can better support decision making relating to the Urgent Response Fund.
  • The Ministry is working on how to improve the weekly reporting on Education Counts to make clearer the impacts COVID-19 might be having on the ECE sector.
  • The Ministry is currently working on the ECE Census. This will provide a more comprehensive view across all services (including ngā kōhanga reo). Census week was 22-28 June 2020. This was in Level 1, but may not capture the full (and still emerging) impact of COVID-19 for all services. This work is progressing over the next month and further updates will be provided.

The Ministry will provide the presentation to ECAC members. However, it is noted that while the broad trends should remain, once the ECE Census is published, a different picture may emerge due to different terms being used, over a different period of time, and with different counting rules.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Provide update to ECAC as data emerges from ECE Census Andrew Webber As work progresses
Send Impacts of COVID-19 on ECE slides to ECAC members Secretariat ASAP

Early Learning Action Plan draft dashboard progress update

Nancy Bell, Ministry of Education

Nancy provided an updated version of the ELAP draft dashboard, which, following ECAC member feedback, predominantly involved shifting the demographic data to a context section on page 2, together with the roadmap of milestones and upcoming actions.

Relevant ELAP work has progressed, with Siobhan working on sector engagement for equity funding and regulatory review, and with the current process of contracting expertise to develop progress and practice tools.

The Ministry will publish the ELAP dashboard online and provide this link to ECAC members, with updates provided at ECAC five times a year as required. This is public and can be shared openly.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Publish ELAP dashboard online, provide link to ECAC members, with updates provided at ECAC five times a year as required Nancy Bell As work progresses

Teaching Council updates: ITE & teacher appraisals

Jayne Franklin, Poppy Shelton, Christina Thornley, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

The removal of teacher performance appraisal as an accountability measure was an action from the Accord between the Ministry of Education, NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA Te Wehengarua. Since then, the Teaching Council has convened a cross-sector group of teacher stakeholder representatives to design a valuable approach to support teachers' professional learning and growth in authentic everyday contexts. Teachers’ participation in the approach called the Professional Growth Cycle along with their everyday practice will also provide assurance to endorsers that teachers who hold full practising certificates (Tūturu) meet the Standards for the Teaching Profession. A set of 'elements' that recognise the place of Our Code, Our Standards has been identified to guide the development of the Professional Growth Cycle. At this point it is for teachers but not professional leaders. 

Zoom hui for professional leaders are currently being run twice weekly by the Teaching Council. Professional leaders of ECAC member organisations are encouraged to register for these hui to provide feedback. Further information will be circulated for ECAC members to share.

The Teaching Council has also been making temporary changes to initial teacher education requirements due to COVID-19, including various changes to requirements for practicum and a well-received temporary 25% reduction in practicum time. Student teachers who take advantage of reduced practicum requirements will be entitled to an enhanced induction and mentoring programme to offset this. The Teaching Council is working with the Ministry to organise the provision of the programme.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Circulate hui information to ECAC members Jayne Franklin ASAP

Optional attendance: discussion on curriculum leads

Tara Taylor-Jorgensen, Christine Dew, Stephen Raynes, Shannon Andrews, Ministry of Education

Introduction of Curriculum Leads to support wellbeing across centre-based early learning services and kōhanga reo – Tara Taylor-Jorgensen:

  • In June 2020 funding was announced for up to 40 Curriculum Leads who will work directly with schools, kura, centre-based early learning services and kōhanga reo to support the teaching of mental health and healthy relationships and promote wellbeing of learners.
  • The Curriculum Leads will have an understanding of the curricula and health education, as well as experience and ability to work with Pacific, Māori, disability and lower socio-economic communities. The roles start Term 1 2021, and work with the sector begins from Term 2 2021.
  • The Ministry would like to hear from a mix of kaiako in early learning to discuss: what would be useful in these roles, curriculum support, service design, mode of delivery and skills required for the role. ECAC members are encouraged to provide this feedback over the next four weeks by emailing

Plan for curriculum resources – Stephen Raynes:

  • The Ministry is developing a four year plan around curriculum resource products for schools, early learning services, English-medium and Māori medium. Some products for schooling are being planned, such as sexuality and health education, food and nutrition, physical education, water safety, and a teaching resource for being safe online.
  • A new Curriculum Lead for early learning will be starting in their role next week and will begin to work with the sector ideas to map out curriculum resources for early learning. The Ministry’s Early Learning team will also provide support to this work.

Implementation design – Shannon Andrews:

  • After the next 3-4 weeks of sector engagement, the Ministry will be designing the Curriculum Lead roles, taking into account the feedback that is provided for the key elements that would be critical for these roles.
  • The Ministry is interested in a connected approach, learning from the Curriculum Champions roles during the 2017 refresh of Te Whāriki. This includes connection both within and outside the Ministry.

Questions from ECAC members – Christine Dew:

  • The different time-availability of early learning kaiako from school teachers for participating in PLD will be considered when designing support.
  • The Curriculum Leads are being appointed to support kaiako, and the wider Ministry regional staff are still the main supports for parents, whānau and the community.
  • Different philosophies, working across different service types, and learning support will also be a necessary consideration.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send sector feedback to the Ministry on what’s important for the Curriculum Lead roles, at ECAC members By 04 September 2020
Collate sector feedback and provide a playback to ECAC Tara Taylor-Jorgensen As work progresses

Other items and wrap up

Helen Hurst, Ministry of Education

The next quarterly ECAC meeting is scheduled for 2 September 2020.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Issue the September ECAC meeting agenda  Secretariat  

Meeting closed 11.30am

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