ECAC minutes September 2019

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 4 September 2019, 9am to 2:30pm at Mātauranga House, Wellington.


Special guests

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

ECAC members

  • Arapera Royal-Tangaere, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Nicola Woollaston, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Karen Affleck, Steiner Education Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Jayne Franklin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa NZ
  • Susan Foster-Cohen, Early Intervention Association Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Jo Lambert, Barnardos New Zealand
  • Sandie Burn, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Virginia Simmonds, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
  • Sean McKinley, Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa - Playcentre Aotearoa
  • Melody Stuckey, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Jill Bond, New Zealand Kindergartens Inc
  • Susan Phua, New Zealand Home-based Early Childhood Education Association
  • Calmar Ulberg, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Pauline Winter, Auckland Kindergarten Association.

Ministry of Education

  • Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support (chair)
  • Keith Newton, Group Manager, ECE Resourcing and Operations
  • Nancy Bell, Director, Early Learning, Early Learning and Student Achievement
  • Helen Hurst, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Susan Howan, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Mary Pupich, Manager Service Support, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Julie Houghton, Specialist Service Lead, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Helen Walter, Senior Policy Manager, Education System Policy
  • Craig Jones, Deputy Secretary, Evidence, Data and Knowledge
  • Freddy Ernst, Senior Policy Manager, Education System Policy
  • Amy Hunter, Senior Adviser, ECE Regulations and Planning (secretariat).

Other agency presenters

  • Geoff Short, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


  • Shelley Hughes, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Damian Edwards, Associate Deputy Secretary, Education System Policy
  • Siobhan Murray, Senior Manager, ECE Policy, Education System Policy
  • Angus Hartley, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office.

Welcome, karakia and introductions

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

Katrina welcomed the group and Virginia Simmonds opened the meeting with a karakia.

Welcome to Jo Lambert (Barnardos NZ) and Pauline Winters (Auckland Kindergarten Association).

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    

ECE Fees data collection

Craig Jones, Ministry of Education

We are improving our current data sources, this includes the annual ECE Census, Early Learning Information (ELI), as well as additional data sources i.e. Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) from Stats NZ, integration with Education Data Vault (EVa) and Te Rito – Student Information Sharing. We are also identifying data gaps that need to be plugged through an ECE data strategy.

We need input from the sector on data limitations, and to ensure we are not misinterpreting the information we collect.

The Ministry needs better data on affordability of ECE and how affordability changes over time. We don’t currently collect how much parents are paying in ECE fees, and also the parents’ share of the price of ECE.

Current fees data:

  • Consumers Price Index (CPI) input from the Statistics New Zealand survey.
  • Childcare Survey (only intermittently run 2009, 2017 and 2023).
  • Survey of Income Expenditure and Fees (last conducted in 2015).

Proposed data needs:

  • The amount parents and whānau are invoiced, including fees, optional charges and donations.
  • Hours funded for each Ministry of Education subsidy type.
  • Dollar amount contributed by other government agencies, including the Work and Income Childcare Subsidy.

We are aware that there is some nuance associated with fees data (e.g. fee write-offs) and we need sector help to understand the data held in student management systems.

How will this data be used?

Fees data will be combined with other Ministry information (i.e. child age, service type, measures of disadvantage) as well as the Statistics NZ data on parental income to generate an affordability index. The affordability index will help the Ministry shape policy decisions and provide investment advice to Ministers.

We won’t use the data to monitor and report on individual services, and the data won’t be released publicly due to commercial sensitivity.

Privacy measures:

  • SMS vendors will send data directly to the Ministry via ELI, RS7 and ECE Returns.
  • Fees information will be stored in EVa. EVa is Ministry owned, certified and accredited as secure. Only authorised staff can information in EVa.
  • De-identified data will be used for analysis and aggregated in any data presentation.

Design and implementation:

  • Phase 1: September 2019 – May 2020.
    • Co-design and finalisation of the collection methodology.
    • Engagement with early learning services and SMS vendors.
    • The pilot collection will involve three SMS vendors: APT, Discover and Infocare (together these SMS vendors cover 95% of all licensed services). The period of data we will be analysing is from 4 March – 26 May 2019. This information will returned and submitted in November/December 2019.
    • The data will be analysed with input from sector representatives.
    • The pilot results will reported back to ECAC.
  • Phase 2: implementation across all SMS vendors and early learning services.

ECAC members raised questions around privacy and the ability for this strategy to capture accurate data on home-based services.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline

Send presentation out to ECAC members

Secretariat ASAP

Craig to advise whether fees data needs to be identified at the early learning service level or whether it can be anonymised at the SMS vendor level before being sent to the Ministry

Craig Jones As work progress

Learning Support Action Plan

Susan Howan, Ministry of Education

Work has commenced to strengthen learning support following the 2016 Select Committee report into support for children and young people with dyslexia, dyspraxia and spectrum disorders. Other drivers that contributed to the Learning Support Action Plan include: 2018 Kōrero Mātauranga and the public consultation on the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan.

$619.65m in new learning support funding was announced over the past two years, new services under the new Learning Support Delivery Model commenced in 2017. Since then, in 2018 additional funding of $21.5m was added to meet demand in early intervention services.  In 2019, a further $24.7m over four years was added to extend support for Ministry Education Support Workers (ESW) from 40 to 50 weeks, and to fund the evaluation of the service.

There are six priorities under the Learning Support Action Plan:

Of the six priorities, three are applicable to the early learning sector.

Priority 1: Learning Support Coordinators

  • Ensure support is in place for students, and work with teachers and families.
  • Connect with other LSCs and the Ministry’s Learning Support facilitation function to ensure supports and services can be accessed.
  • Enable seamless support and transitions from early learning services to schools and kura.

Priority 2: Screening and early identification of learning support needs

  • Develop evidence-based screening tools focused on learning support need, rather than diagnosis
  • Explore (through Ministry of Health) early childhood measurement and teen health screening.

Priority 3: Strengthening early intervention

  • Reduce wait times for early intervention
  • Improve early intervention for young children and their whānau
  • Improve alignment with other agencies.

Wait times and wait lists for early intervention have grown. The Ministry’s regional offices are trying new ways to better meet the needs of their communities, e.g:

  • Providing a key person to work alongside and advise early learning services.
  • Offering community-based advice and guidance to educators and families.

There are opportunities to further develop ESW and teacher aide roles as part of the Education Workforce Strategy. This includes training and career paths, and exploring possibility of differentiating the roles e.g. behavioural, communication and pastoral care.

There is a possibility to also explore new learning support roles, particularly for at-risk children and young people. As well as opportunities for better integration with other roles in other sectors i.e. mental health, youth workers and social workers.

For more information see Early Intervention Services.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Early Intervention Services website link in minutes Secretariat September 2019

He Māpuna te Tamaiti: Supporting Social and Emotional Competence in ECE

Mary Pupich and Julie Houghton, Education Review Office (ERO)

ECAC members were given an update on the final draft and associated support materials of He Māpuna te Tamaiti: Supporting Social and Emotional Competence in Early Learning. This included an overview of the book’s development, promotional poster, self-assessment tool and intentional teaching prompt cards that will promote reflection and professional learning conversations.

The publication and distribution of these resources to all licensed early learning services, junior classrooms in primary schools and kura and training institutions is planned for term 4 this year. 

This resource will be available on the Te Whāriki website. We are currently developing 5 x 2min video clips and slides to support with its implementation.

The Ministry have been working with the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust to discover how the resource could be useful in their context.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline

Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy

Geoff Short, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Freddy Ernst, Ministry of Education

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy was launched on 29 August 2019. The strategy sets out a shared understanding of what’s important for child and youth wellbeing, what government is doing and how others can help. For more information see the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy(external link).

The vision for the strategy is that New Zealand is the best place in the world for children and young people.

There are six interconnected wellbeing outcomes where children and young people:

  • are loved, safe and nurtured.
  • have what they need.
  • are happy and healthy.
  • are learning and developing.
  • are accepted, respected and connected.
  • are involved and empowered.

Guiding principles:

  • Children and young people are taonga.
  • Māori are tangata whenua and the Māori-Crown relationship is foundational.
  • Children and young people’s rights need to be respected and upheld. 
  • All children and young people deserve to live a good life. 
  • Wellbeing needs holistic and comprehensive approaches. 
  • Children and young people’s wellbeing is interwoven with family and whānau wellbeing.
  • Change requires action by all of us.
  • Actions must deliver better life outcomes.
  • Early support is needed.

ECAC members were invited to feedback on the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.

Geoff asked for feedback on the following:

  • Feedback from the sector about which agencies need to be involved in this co-design process.
  • What more can the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) do for children going into/coming out of care?

Please send feedback to

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send Geoff’s contact details in September ECAC minutes Secretariat September 2019 
Invite Geoff back to ECAC once work on the Early Learning Strategic Plan and the Learning Support Action Plan have commenced Secretariat As work progress
ECAC members to think about Early Intervention needs for discussion at December ECAC ECAC members 4 December 2019
Invite Ministry of Health to present on the review of Well Child Tamariki Ora and B4 School checks. Secretariat 4 December 2019

Ministry of Education updates

Nancy Bell and Helen Walter, Ministry of Education

ECAC members were given an overview of the Ministry’s Education Work Programmes. ECAC members were invited to ask questions and engage in discussion.

Early Learning Strategic Plan update:

  • The Early Learning Strategy Action Plan is expected to go to Cabinet late October or early November 2019.
  • There is still ongoing work with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust on their Wai 2336 Claim.
  • The Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG) and Reference group will meet on 26 September 2019 to discuss the final draft – invitation to be sent shortly.

National Education Learning Priorities (NELP) update:

  • The priorities draw on themes and messages from the Kōrero Mātauranga conversations.
  • The engagement report, Treat kids like they’re gold(external link), is available on the NELP conversation page.
  • The draft NELP is currently going through Cabinet, sector consultation is expected to start from end of September and close in November 2019.
  • To subscribe to updates regarding next steps, please email

The NELP consultation is now live - see Shaping a Stronger Education System with New Zealanders(external link).

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send out ‘Treat kids like they’re gold’ engagement report link in the September ECAC minutes Secretariat September 2019

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

The Minister gave a brief overview of some key strategic work. ECAC members asked the Minister questions and he responded to these. 

Discussion points included:

  • Early learning teacher supply and the ECE Teacher Supply Package.
  • National Education Learning Priorities (NELP).
  • Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan.
  • Tomorrow’s Schools Review.
  • Alignment of the regulations and the ECE funding rules.
  • Pay parity across the early learning sector.

ECAC members thanked the Minister for the announced Teacher Supply initiative. There was especially support for the increasing discretionary hours, from 40 hours to 60 hours.

A special edition Early Learning Bulletin article was released following the Minister’s attendance – see ECE Teacher Supply Package(external link).

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Publish He Pānui Kōhungaunga the Early Learning Bulletin special edition on ECE Teacher Supply Package Keith Newton ASAP
Ensure alignment of ECE Funding Handbook and Regulations Keith Newton As work progress
Prepare the consultation on allowing primary qualified teachers to be a person responsible for the first and last 90 minutes of licensed hours in a teacher-led centre-based services Siobhan Murray September 2019

Other items and wrap up

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

Katrina advised there will be a review of ECAC and its Terms of Reference. This will be discussed at December ECAC.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send out the ECAC Terms of Reference (ToR) to ECAC members with the September ECAC minutes Secretariat September 2019
ECAC members to provide feedback on ToR to Amy by 31 October 2019 ECAC members 31 October 2019
Add ECAC ToR to the December ECAC agenda Secretariat 4 December 2019

Meeting closed 2:30pm

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