ECAC Minutes, June 2021

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 3 June 2021, 10:00am to 1:30pm at Mātauranga House, Wellington.


Special Guests

  • Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education
  • Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education
  • Andrew Bailey, Operations Vaccine Programme, Ministry of Health
  • Rachel Mackay, Operations Vaccine Programme, Ministry of Health
  • Heather Taylor, Group Manager - Barnardos New Zealand
  • Katina Beauchamp, Attended on behalf of Peter Reynolds, Senior Policy Officer, Early Childhood Council
  • Robyn Maria, Attended on behalf of Nicola Woollaston, Team Leader at KidzFirst
  • Simon Cottle, Attended on behalf of Jayne Franklin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Susan Bailey, Attended on behalf of Thomas Tawhiri, NZ Playcentre Federation

ECAC Members

  • Ann Malir, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ)
  • Donovan Clarke, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Jenny TePunga-Jurgens, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Jill Bond, NZ Kindergartens Inc.
  • Heather Taylor, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood NZ
  • Lee Jones, Early Intervention Association of Aotearoa NZ (EIAANZ)
  • Pauline Winter, Auckland Kindergarten Association (AKA)
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation (HELO)
  • Sandie Burn, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Shelley Hughes, NZEI Te Riu Roa

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)
  • Sarah Strong, Acting Group Manager, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Elspeth Maxwell, Manager, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)
  • Kathryn Burch (interim secretariat), Lead Adviser, ECE Regulations and Planning, Sector Enablement and Support (SE&S)


  • Angus Hartley, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Calmar Ulberg, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Erin Maloney, New Zealand Home-based Early Childhood Education Association
  • Jayne Franklin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Karen Affleck, Steiner Education Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Nicola Woollaston, Hospital Play Specialists
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office (ERO)
  • Thomas Tawhiri, NZ Playcentre Federation

Welcome, karakia and introductions

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education; Kathy Wolfe Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood NZ

  • Katrina welcomed the group and Kathy opened the meeting with a karakia.

Apologies, minutes, and actions

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

  • Apologies, minutes, and actions were previously circulated by email and confirmed.

Minister and Iona’s attendance

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

Pay parity

  • The intention has been positively received, but ECAC members shared information about the consequences of the change including the financial impacts on services.
  • This is the starting point; there is more work to do. The Minister encouraged ECAC members to continue to share their feedback so this can be used for future improvements.
  • Some discussion on the legislative requirements and pathway – the legislation allows conditions to be attached to the funding.
  • The importance of aligned messaging was noted – Ministry and ECAC members can work together to ensure the right information is circulated.
  • The Minister will be attending an upcoming home-based conference, and this may be raised in that forum.
  • Some discussion on the funding review. ECAC members asked for this to be brought forward, and said they had sector people ready to contribute. Ministry is keen to progress this as quickly as possible.


  • The Minister provided an update on the vaccination programme to date and planned next steps.

Update on Provider Assurance Group

Helen Hurst, Ministry of Education


  • Pilot wound up in October 2020, ongoing funding secured. New manager recently appointed; next steps is to build the team.
  • Group’s focus will be on fraud so there will be some aspects of the operating model the Ministry can’t share. However, Ministry is keen to get sector reps involved where we can – it’s important we get the operating model right.

Key discussion points

  • There will be little or no overlap with ERO function; this will be quite a specialist team with a unique function.
  • Most funding breaches we find are unintentional errors rather than fraudulent, so most services won’t have any contact with this group. Where services haven’t grasped the rules, we work with them to support their understanding; this support is likely to be provided by another part of the Ministry.

Update on the Vaccine Immunisation Programme

Andrew Bailey, Rachel Mackay, Ministry of Health

Andrew provided an update on the site logistics, bookings, and workforce:

  • These are the three areas of focus as the programme scales up. The programme is currently concerned with group 3, people who are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, including those with relevant underlying conditions.
  • Sites are mostly community vaccination centres; these are run by primary care providers or DHBs. As the programme progresses, more primary care provider sites like GPs and pharmacies will be introduced. There will also be some mobile sites going into rural communities. Hospital sites have been used for healthcare workforce. They are looking to identify workplace sites and are working with Business NZ on this.
  • Each DHB currently uses their own booking system, but a new national system is currently being piloted. People will be invited, go online, choose a location and slot.
  • They are currently asking for people such as retired nurses to expand the workforce to administer the vaccines.

Rachel provided an update on the education sector:

  • MOH is working with MOE on how to engage with the education sector, this includes working with secondary schools, especially those with experience such as Papatoetoe High School – keen to incorporate learnings from these school communities.
  • There are 5 “pillars” – staff, school-based sites for young people and families (tailored to community), engagement and communication for young people, joint comms channels, and curriculum integration (eg understanding, consent)
  • Currently the vaccine is only available for 16+. Likely it will be made available to 12+, but not until later in year.
  • Not a one-size-fits-all approach – a variety of sites will be available to cater to different needs and to ensure people are comfortable, eg workplaces, churches, schools. This will be for all whānau, not just the workers or students who attend.
  • Sites will be published on the website, there will be public campaigns and the booking system will show places nearby with capacity.
  • It’s a two-dose vaccine with 21 days minimum between doses; there are also rules about timing with the flu vaccine.

Discussion points

  • Tertiary providers – we are working on this, need to be cognisant of exam cycles.
  • Some feedback from Auckland – people were unable to access because of congestion at sites, invitations went to spam. This was noted.
  • Yes, people can go to different places for the 2nd vaccine
  • Vaccination invitations for kuia and kaumatua sometimes ended up in SPAM folders in the Auckland metro region and therefore people missed appointments. They are now confused about how to access appointments and are concerned about missing out.

Ministry will disseminate messages through bulletins.

Update on the Urgent Response Fund (URF)

Georgina Muir, Laura Stokes, Ministry of Education


We have proactively released data to end of 2020 – what funding was made available to which service, school, or cluster and for what category of need. Link to released data: Distribution of the Urgent Response Fund – Education in New Zealand.

  • The data for the whole Fund ($50 million) will be proactively released once the fund has ended.
  • Latest figures are showing a steady increase in the number of early learning services making applications, the amount awarded and the proportion of total funding that is being approved for Early Learning Services. The average amount approved per child has also increased.
  • Georgina provided some examples of the funding’s use – one employed people to work with whānau to support engagement, another introduced an art therapy programme called “no worries”.
  • The fund ends 30 June.

Once the Fund has ended, we will go back to applicants to find out if the support achieved the outcomes expected for the learners’ supported.

Update on the Early Learning Action Plan (ELAP) Dashboard

Nancy Bell, Paul Whiting, Ministry of Education


  • Budget 2021 has allocated $170m to enable services to pay certificated teachers at steps 1-6 in the kindergarten collective agreement in an ‘opt in’ basis.
  • Work is underway to progress the managed network approach.
  • Six of seven appointments have been made to support the Pacific language workstream announced at the end of last year.
  • The review of PLD for early learning is on track and will be completed by the end of June; the Ministry will test recommendations with the Sector Reference Group.
  • Gazetting the curriculum framework – following early engagement the Ministry will work with approximately 50 Māori medium ECE services on strengthening the Part B framework so that the goals and learning outcomes of Te whāriki: he whāriki mātauranga mo ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa reflect te ao Māori framing.
  • Progress and practice tools – procurement is underway for a planned PLD supported trial later in the year.

Education Workforce

Ellen McGregor Reid, John Deal, Ministry of Education


  • Ellen outlined some of the challenges we’ve been hearing from the sector, including recruitment and retention, regional variation, increased demand for children under 2 and impact on ratios, cap on ECE ITE students, and pay.
  • Ellen explained that our data doesn’t support some of this but offered assurance that the Ministry has heard these challenges, nonetheless.
  • Some of the steps we are taking include the Teacher Education Refresh, marketing drives and recruitment support. The Ministry has applied to allow a limited number of overseas qualified teachers to enter New Zealand while our border is closed.
  • We acknowledge that some short-term relief might be needed while we await the outcome of this, and we want to explore some discretionary options.
  • There has been a decent upswing in the overall tertiary numbers including teachers in ECE training, and this means we should see more graduates next year. ECAC members supported this view.
  • The “Become a teacher” marketing campaign on radio and social media. This includes targeting people who may want to return to teaching and also potential career changes. A specific ECE component is planned, currently going through the procurement process to secure a creative agency partner, with a targeted campaign earmarked for October.
  • Ellen talked briefly about the pay equity claim – this will be a long and complex process.

Discussion Points

  • ECAC members passed on what they are hearing, including challenges to recruit and retain and pay.
  • What’s the number of graduates who go on to teach? We can glean some information from the numbers who obtain practising certificates from the Teaching Council, but this has limitations.
  • Most if not all student teachers are already employed, so they won’t be new to the workforce, just newly qualified.
  • Kathy Wolfe, Cathy Wilson, and Peter Reynolds are on the workforce steering group and will call out to other ECAC members to participate.

Update on Regulation Review and Network Planning

Siobhan Murray, Ministry of Education


  • A very constructive network planning hui was recently held. Good information was shared, eg the process of setting up a service, and use of professional data mapping services.
  • The next sector advisory group is 16 June and will focus on regulating for 80% qualified teachers and person responsible.
  • We intend to have proposals out for public consultation later this year

Budget 2021

John Brooker, Ministry of Education


  • John provided a contextual overview of the Vote Education budget and summarised the key early learning initiatives.
  • John outlined increased funding for childcare assistance, including an adjustment to income thresholds, in line with average wage growth, and the change for some supplementary assistance programmes. This means over time more families will be eligible.

Discussion Points

  • Some discussion on the childcare subsidy and ensuring a good uptake. This is an MSD process, but we can pass on feedback to them.
  • What’s the relationship with the Early Learning Payment, which is available for families with children 18 months to 3 years, also managed by MSD?
  • There was some discussion on improving survey tools and data. A key input into the costings for the pay parity initiative was the 2020 ECE Remuneration Survey. This had a very low response rate – only 33% of providers in the sample provided data.
  • ECAC members expressed frustration about data, which has been an ongoing discussion with the Ministry at ECAC and the ECE workforce data sub-group which commenced four years ago and then stalled. ECAC members are keen to support the Ministry to collect better data from the sector for the Ministry and Minister to make informed decisions and noted their disappointment that this survey could’ve reached a much wider group had the Ministry utilised the network around the ECAC table. ECAC requested to reinstate the sub-group (or similar) that was working with the Ministry relating to ECE workforce and explore data improvements to inform policy and funding decisions. Ministry to respond to ECAC.
  • Funding Review – ECAC requested the Minister commence a working group now to start working with the Ministry on the systemic funding for ECE. ECAC members noted that the purpose and scope needs to be well articulated to ensure the vision and outcomes including an implementation plan and timeline are achievable and fit for purpose for the ECE sector and as per the ELAP.ECAC members asked for a commitment to progress the ECE system funding review now rather than waiting to 2022 as per the ELAP., and to hear examples from ECE services for modelling.
  • Brief discussion on ESA – this is a national entity, but regions are part of it. First phase is to establish the leadership structure, the next phase the remainder of the design – the sector will be involved in the latter but not the former. An announcement is expected soon.

Other items and wrap up

Katrina Casey, Helen Hurst, Ministry of Education

  • Helen explained that this was Katrina’s last ECAC meeting, before moving onto to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet into the implementation unit. Helen will act as Deputy Secretary and Nancy Bell will act in the Associate Deputy Secretary role while retaining her Director Early Learning role.
  • Agreed to zoom meetings between quarterly face-to-face meetings.
  • Brief discussion about the previous Research Policy Group. This was originally established for the last strategic plan and reignited for ELAP.
  • New tool for parents to use to choose and enrol in an ECE – this is in test and will be released soon.
  • Kathy Wolfe closed the meeting with a karakia. 
Action items Responsibility Deadline
ECAC members to send their thoughts on the PAG operating model to Secretariat. (Ian will organise a meeting to outline the model to interested members). All ECAC members 2 September 2021
Early Learning Action Plan (ELAP) - Produce a forward-looking schedule for ELAP in 2022 and onward. Nancy Bell 3 June 2021
ECAC members to share specific information about childcare subsidy challenges with Secretariat, to pass on to Ministry of Social Development. All ECAC members 2 September 2021
Siobhan to get info about the Early Learning Payment; Secretariat to pass on to ECAC members. Siobhan Murray 2 September 2021
John to progress a plan and scope for the Funding Review. John Brooker 2 September 2021
Ministry of Education meet with ECE services to share the financial impact and unintended consequences related to the recent pay parity announcement to assist in future modelling for the MoE around funding increases. Ministry of Education 2 September 2021
Ministry of Education will engage with and seek input from the early learning sector as soon as possible in 2021 relating to the system funding review. Ministry of Education As soon as possible in 2021
Nicola Woollaston said that she would provide some information she has on “needle fear” to support information sharing. Nicola Woollaston 2 September 2021
Secretariat to set up zooms between each quarterly face-to-face meeting. Secretariat  ASAP
Nancy to follow-up and come back to the group on the research policy group. Nancy Bell 2 September 2021
Secretariat to circulate new tool for parents when finalised. All ECAC members 3 May 2021
Submit agenda items for next meeting All ECAC members  

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