ECAC Minutes, December 2020

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 2 December 2020, 9:00am to 2:00pm at Mātauranga House, Wellington.


Special guests

  • Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education
  • Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education
  • Dr Peter Crabtree, Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
  • Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, University of Auckland

ECAC Members

  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa of NZ (MANZ)
  • Erin Maloney, New Zealand Home-based Early Childhood Education Association
  • Jayne Franklin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Jenny TePunga-Jurgens, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Jill Bond, NZ Kindergartens Inc
  • Jo Lambert, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Karen Affleck, Steiner Education Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood NZ
  • Nicola Woollaston, Hospital Play Specialists
  • Pauline Winter, Auckland Kindergarten Association (AKA)
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation (HELO)
  • Shelley Hughes, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Thomas Tawhiri, NZ Playcentre Federation
  • Virginia Simmonds, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
  • Ann Malir, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu

Ministry of Education

  • Katrina Casey (chair), Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Nancy Bell, Director, Early Learning, Early Learning and Student Achievement (ELSA)
  • Helen Hurst, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • John Brooker, Group Manager Funding, ECE and Budget teams, Education System Policy (ESP)
  • Siobhan Murray, Senior Manager, ECE Policy, Education System Policy (ESP)
  • Elspeth Maxwell Manager, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Seneca Grant (interim secretariat), Administrator, ECE Regulations and Planning, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)


  • Angus Hartley, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Calmar Ulberg, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Keith Newton, Group Manager, ECE Resourcing and Operations, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Lee Jones, Early Intervention Association of Aotearoa NZ (EIAANZ)
  • Sandie Burn, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office (ERO)

Welcome, karakia and introductions 

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education; Siobhan Murray, Ministry of Education

  • Katrina welcomed the group and Siobhan opened the meeting. 
  • Katrina welcomed Ann Malir who will be taking over from Virginia Simmonds representing Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu. 
  • Katrina agreed that future ECAC meetings would allow an hour at the start of each meeting for members to meet informally without the Ministry.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Apologies, minutes and actions

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

  • Apologies, minutes and actions were previously circulated by email and confirmed.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Review of Equity and Targeted Funding

John Brooker, Ministry of Education

We are currently undertaking a Review of equity and targeted funding in early learning. This is in response to Action 2.1 in the Early Learning Action Plan – He Taonga te Tamaiti. The review includes whether the funding allocation mechanisms and the amount of funding overall are appropriate.

We have two main equity-focused funding streams – Equity Funding and Targeted Funding for Disadvantage. Both have the dual purpose of improving children’s access to and quality of early learning.

  • Equity Funding was introduced in 2002 and Targeted Funding for Disadvantage was introduced in 2018. The two funding streams account for around 3.5% of all funding for early learning.
  • Equity Funding Components A and B are allocated via the Equity Index (EQI). The EQI is calculated using the addresses of children at a service, which are matched with census mesh-block data. It is very similar to decile funding in schooling.
  • Targeted Funding for Disadvantage uses a data match with MSD benefit data to assess which services have high proportions of children who have spent a large portion of their life as the dependent of a beneficiary.

There are several issues with the current system, such as:

  • Two funding streams for the same purpose, but allocated using different methods and with different reporting requirements
  • EQI is based on old data and uses neighbourhood information rather than information at individual level.

Equity Funding Components A and B and Targeted Funding for Disadvantage are within the scope of the Review. Components C and D of Equity Funding are not included. The Review is intended to improve the accuracy of equity-focused funding through consideration of a new single funding mechanism.

The Ministry has been working to develop a new schooling Equity Index to replace the current system of decile funding. This index uses the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).

  • The IDI would allow us to build an index in early learning that reflects the characteristics of the actual children who are enrolled in a centre, rather than the characteristics of the wider community they live in.
  • This would enable us to better target resourcing to services with high proportions of children that need support the most.

We have convened a Sector Reference Group chaired by Clare Wells. The Group reflects the diversity of the sector – most of the members are service providers from across the motu that have high proportions of disadvantaged children. It includes a mix of service types, English and Māori medium as well as Pacific services.

  • The Group is expected to meet again in February, and periodically through the first half of 2021.
  • If you wish to contribute to the Review, please get in contact with Siobhan Murray or myself.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
John to send notes with the minutes for the 2 Dec ECAC meeting  John Brooker  ASAP

Vaccine Strategy Taskforce in November 

Dr Peter Crabtree, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, and Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, University of Auckland

Dr Peter Crabtree provided an outline of New Zealand’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy and key progress to date. Dr Helen Petousis-Harris was able to dial in for the last few minutes of the presentation and helped respond to questions. Key points covered in the presentation included:

Our vaccine strategy

  • Investing in global research by joining CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness) and joining the global COVAX Facility, which also ensures equitable access globally
  • Using Advance Purchase Agreements (APAs) to secure supply where possible and increasing local manufacturing capability: BioCell
  • Investing in a national development and screening programme: Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (VAANZ)

Public attitudes and sentiment

  • Baseline research from September 2020, purchased from Horizon Research shows the major reason for not accepting an offered vaccine or being unsure whether to do so was the need to be assured about the vaccine’s safety (an estimated 522,700 adults).
  • Māori appear to be the least inclined to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if offered.

Update from Ministry of Health

  • The Ministry of Health is preparing for a range of vaccine scenarios and how best to sequence the delivery of vaccines once supply becomes available. Three broad considerations are being explored: Those at risk of contracting COVID-19, those at risk of spreading COVID-19, those at risk of increased morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19.
  • Ensuring equity of outcomes, including protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and our most vulnerable population groups, such as older people, disabled people, health workers, essential workers and border staff are some of our primary considerations in the availability of vaccines.


  • Engagement with Church leaders will be important for uptake by Pacific communities.
  • MoH confirmed they are interested to engage further with ECAC on this soon.
  • General discussion on what the potential barriers for Māori are and how trust in people, systems and processes is important for introducing a new vaccine.
  • Nicola Woollaston offered to provide additional information on managing ‘needle phobia’ to help vaccine hesitancy.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Present again in February 2021 to discuss and give an update.  Ministry of Health  February 2021

Early Curriculum work programme

Nancy Bell, Paul Whiting, Ann Pairman, & Amy Bendall, Ministry of Education

ELAP Dashboard – Nancy Bell / Paul Whiting

  • Trend is showing fewer children enrolled and attending from 2019 to 2020 ECE Census. We cannot tell from the 2020 ECE Census how much of the decrease is part of this ongoing trend and how much is due to COVID-19.

Review of PLD – Nancy Bell / Amy Bendall

  • Action 3.6 of the ELAP is to ‘Develop a sustained and planned approach to PLD’.
  • Phase one of this work is the review of current provision, including uptake and effectiveness. We are starting this work now for completion by June 2021.
  • Phase two is expected to start mid-2021 and will involve designing for future early learning PLD provision including national and local provision.

The Practice and Progress Tools – Nancy Bell / Ann Pairman

  • The first sector reference group (SRG) meeting was held on 20 October where the Ministry provided context about the project, the Project Team outlined the work ahead and key orientations to their approach.
  • The second SRG meeting has been scheduled for 7 December and we expect the draft tools to be ready for trialling with the sector from May 2021.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
ECAC nominations are invited to participate in a sector reference group to support the PLD Review. Group would meet 3 -5 times between February and May 2021.    ECAC members  TBC
Katrina asked that a coordinated approach is taken to seeking sector reference group nominations. Keith to provide coordinated list of all reference groups. Keith Newton ASAP

Talking Together resource – Oral Language

Michelle Dawe, Ministry of Education

Talking together, Te kōrerorero is a resource for fostering rich oral language in English, providing information about bilingual and multilingual pathways and supporting kaiako to integrate te reo Māori in early learning settings.

It has two main sections, Talk Information (understanding oral language growth and underpinning theories) and Talk Tools (effective teaching practices).

It supports any method of communication a tamaiti uses as a first language, including NZSL and use of Communication Assistive technology or Augmentative Alternative Communication to replace or augment their speech.

The early learning team is working across the Ministry to provide a joined-up approach for implementing Talking together, Te kōrerorero in the sector.


  • It was suggested kaiako would also like to have a hard copy as well as online for this resource
  • ECAC members also suggested developing short videos to support this resource for whānau
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.      

ECE Regulations Tranche 1 Review

Siobhan Murray and Kirsty Macdonald, Ministry of Education

We have been working with the Sector Advisory Group (SAG) to help shape the discussion document to support the consultation on the first tranche of the regulatory review.

  • Consultation on tranche one of the Review will be starting in the week of 7 December and will run until 12 February 2021. This will be in the form of a discussion document, draft regulations and a survey. There is also an email address for any submissions –
  • We encourage members to share the material with their networks.
  • We also welcome any issues members would like to see considered as part of tranches two and three via the mailbox.


  • Peter Reynolds asked about the process to influence future tranches. He also requested a written response to the previous submission from ECC on removing the Person Responsible requirement.
  • Siobhan confirmed that sector contributions are welcome at the email address above.
  • Several ECAC members noted that network management needed to be a priority for the review ahead of the timeframe indicated in the Education and Training Act 2020.
  • Katrina advised network management continues to be a priority, but work associated with this needed to be sequenced with Ministry capacity/capability.
  • Katrina confirmed only the Minister can make decisions on the focus and priorities for Tranches 2 and 3.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Siobhan to follow up on written response to Peter Reynolds on ECC submission relating to removing the Person Responsible requirement  Siobhan Murray  ASAP

Minister and Iona’s attendance 

Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education 

The Minister provided a brief overview on the following before opening the floor to discussion.

  • Vaccines: The Minister is looking at having a ‘Vaccine Week’ at schools where tamariki, parents, and whānau can get vaccines together at one time.
  • Budget: There is a three-year budget cycle. Currently looking at what in the Education Work Programme can happen now, what can happen next year, and what can happen the year following.
  • Pay Parity and Network across the 10-year Action Plan – continue to be the biggest priorities.


  • ECAC members would like active network management to be higher on the Minister’s priority list for implementation. Members discussed the difficulties of having to shut services as enrolment numbers fall, noting that new services continue to open.
    • The Minister noted the sustainability fund appears to be under-utilised. ECAC members advised that the criteria were difficult to meet. Minister noted he would discuss the criteria further with Katrina and link back.
  • Home Based Sector ECAC member wanted to know when they would be receiving more detailed information about future directions for the home-based sector following the review.
    • It was confirmed that an email would be distributed to all home-based providers containing further details about the transition to a qualified workforce for both quality and standard funded services.
  • ECAC members expressed concern at the impact of border controls on services ability to appoint overseas qualified staff as educators/teachers.
    • The Minister confirmed there is a programme of work in place for those who are stranded elsewhere outside the country, and those who are stranded here and cannot find work. MBIE has already been very reasonable with Visas, however, we do have returning residence/visa holders and are focused on getting them home. It is a difficult situation, but we are doing our best.
  • ECAC members commented that there is a teacher shortage in NZ and expressed frustrations around how teachers are not classified as essential workers on MBIE’s immigration skills shortage list. Peter Reynolds explained how there are qualified teachers in Auckland that are not able to find work due to the Visa process.
    • The Minister noted that isolation facilities are full until mid-Feb which makes this situation more difficult and does not allow us to bring anyone in from overseas. He also noted he was happy to hear more details about the immigration issues in Auckland.
  • The Minister was asked how trans-Tasman travel was looking regarding COVID-19 and what can we expect to see?
    • The Minister noted it is looking good for the Australasia region. There are separate flights that are going in and out of the safe zones. It is looking better day by day with a focus on what to do when there is a resurgence.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.      

ECE Licensing and Certification Criteria Amendment – Minimising food-related choking risk at early learning services

Elspeth Maxwell and Sam Johnston, Ministry of Education

Elspeth thanked ECAC for their contribution to this work particularly those who participated in the sub-group. Sam outlined the changes that have been agreed to by the Minister (three amendments). These were tabled.

  • We received over 2500 responses.
    • The Ministry used the following considerations to inform the proposed changes:
      1. The safety and wellbeing of tamariki;
      2. The compliance burden on whānau, kaiako, and services;
      3. The cost pressures on whānau, services and the Ministry; and balancing the need for a consistent approach across all service types while recognising the differing operational models where possible. Changes make sure all foods are developmental as well as nutritional needs.
  • Amendments to HS22/19 and HS19/16 to come into effect on 25 Jan 2021
  • Amendments to H525 to come into effect on 8 April 2021.

The Ministry intends to publicly announce these changes in the week of 7 December 2020.

Additional resources will be available from the Ministry of Health to support services, but we are unable to provide at this stage as they have not yet been confirmed by the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry is exploring how it can support services and is seeking feedback on what this may look like as well as the proposed guidance that was tabled.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Provide an electronic copy of the paper discussed at the meeting – circulate with minutes and provide as a word document to allow tracked changes from the ECAC members.   Sam Johnston ASAP
Feedback on guidance to be provided to Sam at before 19 Jan 2021 as it is officially going live 25 Jan 2021.  All ECAC members 19 January 2021 

Urgent Response Fund (URF) update

Susan Howan, Ministry of Education

Susan walked group through the slides that had been distributed ahead of the meeting. Key points included:

  • As at 18 Nov 2020, 26 million of URF funding has been distributed.
  • Approximately 11% of the funding allocated so far has been allocated to early learning services.
  • Directors of Education are reporting considerable contact with the early learning sector regarding URF but have had relatively fewer applications.
  • Susan provided a regional summary of the allocations made to date and Katrina noted this information would be more meaningful if the total regional allocation was also provided to give the data more context.


  • Applications in the Otago/Southland Region are taking longer to approve and appeared to be seeking a lot more information as part of the application process than other parts of the country.
  • Katrina reiterated the point that decision making of allocations are made by regional sector panels not the Ministry, according to the information each panel considered they needed to support their regional decisions.
  • Peter Reynolds asked if there was an intention to showcase innovative practice on what URF has been used for. Susan noted this was still our intention but hadn’t been completed yet, bearing in mind we had been given no additional resource to implement this fund.

Susan talked briefly about some examples of how the spend had been used:

  • One centre has employed additional staff and created smaller room spaces to maintain safe, warm and calming areas to improve attendance.
  • Another centre has employed additional staff to enable increased teacher release time for a trusted staff member to connect and communicate directly with whanau.
  • In Auckland a kindergarten is working with 14 cultural groups for whom English is a second language with the aim of improving attendance.
  • In Napier an early learning centre intends to use a social worker to spend time both in the centre and out in the community to create a stronger connection and support participation from whānau.

Update from Susan Howan:
Additional information requirements of applicants are requested by the Otago Southland regional sector panel when they feel they need more information to confirm that the funding request meets the criteria for the URF. For example, they require some comment about the attendance of the targeted group and an explanation of the Covid-connected need. Costings and the strategy to be used need to be identified.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Susan to resubmit/distribute amended presentation slides to include better data capture that shows comparison between the regions and shows the total amount for each region  Susan Howan ASAP
Susan to follow-up on feedback re the Otago/Southland allocation Susan Howan ASAP 

ECE Teacher Shortage, Pay Equity and Workforce Strategy

Deborah Kent, Toni Janes, Mark Williamson & Paul Aitken, Ministry of Education

Deborah Kent introduced John Deal as the Acting Senior Manager Teacher Supply from 23 November 2020, releasing Toni back into the Education Workforce Strategy.

New Teacher Supply Initiatives – Toni Janes
New Domestic Initiatives:
Toni thanked those members of ECAC that had engaged with Teacher Supply on the repurposing of overseas funding toward domestic initiatives. She mentioned that all the initiatives have been targeted toward support for those centres that find it hard to attract and retain qualified teachers.

She said that as promised, the Teacher Supply team have set up meetings to discuss how well the domestic initiatives are working and any areas where improvement could be made.

Domestic Recruitment Support:

  • ECE’s can receive subsidised recruitment support from the Ministry’s contracted recruitment agencies – EP Education and Oasis Personnel (Auckland only)
  • Some frustration was expressed that a subsidy wasn’t enough because most centres can’t afford to pay the remainder of the bill for recruitment support.
  • Toni thanked the group for the feedback provided.

Domestic Relocation Grant (DRG):

  • The DRG is a new initiative designed to support early learning services to get qualified teachers/kaiako to places in need.
  • Teachers/kaiako returning to or beginning teaching that move within New Zealand to fill a teaching vacancy may be eligible for reimbursement of up to $5,000 (GST inclusive) for actual incurred relocation costs.

Domestic Finder’s Fee (DFF):

  • The DFF is a new initiative designed to support those early learning services that have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff.
  • ECEs recruiting teachers/kaiako already living in New Zealand and returning to or beginning teaching may be eligible for reimbursement of up to $3,000 (GST exclusive) for actual incurred recruitment costs.

Reach & Engagement Update

  • The Reach and Engagement programme aims to get more teachers into classrooms and includes two types of activity:
  • Ministry-led communications campaign to the sector, to raise awareness of the domestic teacher supply initiatives and the recruitment and retention support available from term Four 2020. Ministry channels to roll this out from 23 Nov 2020.
  • Short-term reach and engagement approach using the Ministry’s contracted marketing agency VMLY&R. It will encourage and support already qualified returning teachers into teaching employment, or people into Initial Teacher Education (ITE), via the various teacher supply initiatives and the Become a Teacher materials. This will be rolling out through social and digital channels from 30 Nov 2020.

Pay Equity Update – Mark Williamson
New laws under the Equal Pay Act 1972 came into force on 6 November. This makes it easier to raise a claim and encourages collaboration and evidence-based decision-making to address pay inequity

Pay equity means that people receive the same pay for doing jobs that are different but of equal value. Pay parity means the same pay for doing the same job.

  • The Ministry received 8 new pay equity claims, including NZEI Te Riu Roa multi-employer claim for ECE teachers of which the Ministry is one of 600 employers included in this claim.
  • In addition, the Ministry are also progressing administration support staff and Kaiārahi I te reo claims (in assessment stage currently), teacher aide pay equity claim settled and implemented this year.
  • An employer can choose to opt-out of the claim at any stage and decide to progress on their own to resolve the claim instead of in a group setting. This can only occur if the employer has genuine reasons and reasonable grounds.
  • Aiming to acknowledge claims in five working days – there is no strict timeframe for resolving a claim other than being reasonable in time.

Next steps: Understand and plan how we work together through the claim, develop a multi-employer process agreement, and agree ‘arguability’.

Education Workforce Strategy Update -
Before the election the Minister requested that we draft a strategic action plan to support the draft Workforce Strategy for wider discussion and engagement. We are currently working with the Minister’s office to progress this.

  • The strategic action plan that will accompany the Workforce Strategy document is being progressed through a process of internal (Ministry) consultation, and consulting with our Accord Partners.
  • The aim is to provide the Minister with the two documents prior to the December break, for his consideration and comment.

Next steps: We are targeting an early 2021 date for Cabinet to consider the documents and approve a public consultation process. A further Cabinet cycle will follow the public consultation process, before we embark on implementation.

Border update – Paul Aitken

  • Minister signalled that the borders are closed right now but it might be possible to consider a class exception application for teachers in Feb 2021. We should get an update on whether vacancies will be opening in managed isolation facilities as well.
  • The Ministry is trying to pull together data and evidence of specific shortages that could support an application for border entry for teachers and wants the sectors help to build that case. It was pointed out that any case will be considered alongside applications from all other industries and professions.
  • ECAC members expressed frustration at the fact that teachers were not seen as a priority for inclusion on the immigration critical skills list by MBIE.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Paul to arrange a zoom hui as soon as possible with interested members including Peter Reynolds, Jo Lambert, Kathy Wolfe and Cathy Wilson.    Paul Aitken ASAP

Other items and wrap up

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

  • Agreed that the next ECAC meeting will be scheduled to include an hour where ECAC members can meet and discuss before the official meeting commences.
  • Nancy Bell closed the meeting with a karakia.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Submit agenda items for next meeting in December.  All ECAC members Ongoing

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