Early Learning General News – May 2018

General news for the Early Learning sector for May 2018 including Early Learning Strategy, Oat the Goat and more …

Equity index funding remaining for 2019 and 2020

The Minister of Education recently announced an expansion to the work on replacing deciles to look more broadly at how education resources might better support equity in schools, ngā kōhanga reo and early childhood education services, especially for learners from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Government will revisit replacing the equity index (EQI) for early childhood education services once this work on equity, and work on aspects of the Education Work Programme, such as the Early Learning Strategic Plan, has been completed.

This means that equity index funding will not be replaced in 2019 or 2020. The Government has asked the Ministry to proceed with recalculating the equity index in services using the results of the 2018 census. New ratings will take effect in 2020.

More information on the funding system review, including the Cabinet paper setting this new direction.

Time worked outside normal hours of work

In the recent, and highly publicised case of Labour Inspector v Smiths City Group Ltd, the Employment Court looked at a situation where Smiths City had an established practice of holding 15 minute sales meetings prior to stores opening each day. During these meetings sales information such as targets and promotions was given to staff. No wage and time records were kept for the meetings, and the staff were not paid for attending the meetings. This meant that those employees being paid at or near the minimum wage rate were receiving less than the minimum wage for the total amount of time they were working, once the unpaid meetings were taken into account. This, and the failure to keep accurate records, was in breach of the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and the Employment Relations Act 2000.

The Employment Court found that the meetings were ‘work’ for the employees attending them, which meant that the time spent at the meetings must be both recorded by Smiths City, and paid for. The Court found that the meetings were an integral part of the main activities of Smith City sales employees. In deciding that the meetings were ‘work’, the Court looked at the fact that the employees only attended because they worked for Smiths City, and the meetings were about selling Smiths City products. Employee attendance at the meetings was expected, staff had responsibilities at the meetings, and there were benefits to Smith City as a result of the staff attending the meetings.

This case is an important reminder that employees who are paid by the hour should be paid for attending staff meetings, for any training that occurs outside of their agreed employment hours, where attendance is expected, and for the time spent outside of agreed employment hours, setting up or closing down a service for the day. Where the employee is required to perform a task or activity, has the responsibility to do so, and the service obtains a benefit from them doing so, the activity is likely to be considered work that the employee is entitled to be paid for. Records of such activities should also be kept up to date.

Early learning initiatives in Budget 2018

Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s first Budget on 17 May 2018 delivered the first universal across-the-board cost adjustment for early learning services since 2008.

An investment of $590 million in total included new operating funding over the next 4 years of $483 million to meet increased demand. In addition, early learning services are to receive a $104.8 million increase over the same period, which represents a 1.6 percent universal increase. This excludes home-based services. The cost adjusted rate will apply from January 2019.

In its Budget, the Government said it has set aside a further $2.3 million over the same 4-year ahead period for home-based early learning service providers. The funding will be released to services that meet quality criteria to be determined following the completion of the Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education (ECE) in late 2018.

Go to the Ministry’s Budget 2018 Vote Education Summary Page for more details.

Early learning strategy

Work on a new Strategic Plan for early learning is underway. The plan is being jointly developed by a Ministerial Advisory Group, a Reference Group comprising sector representatives, and the Ministry of Education. The Ministerial Advisory Group and the Reference Group have had their first meetings in Wellington, as well as an initial discussion with Education Minister Chris Hipkins. The groups are focusing on the priorities for the next 10 years and beyond.

The Ministerial Advisory Group is chaired by Professor Carmen Dalli of Victoria University, and Professor Margie Hohepa was recently appointed as a member of the group. Professor Hohepa teaches Māori education undergraduate and graduate courses in initial teacher education and has taught in primary school and kōhanga reo settings. Her field of research is framed by Kaupapa Māori, with a particular interest in Māori-medium education.

The other members of the Ministerial Advisory Group are Dr Alex Gunn, Professor Stuart McNaughton and Dr Tanya Wendt-Samu. The Reference Group membership is drawn from the Early Childhood Advisory Committee and the ECE Policy Research Forum.

The early learning strategy will be informed by the conversations and ideas from the Education Summit events held in Christchurch and Auckland this month, and by the online survey(external link) on the Education Conversation website. This national conversation on education, Kōrero Mātauranga, will provide the high-level direction for the Government’s work programme to deliver the education and learning we want for the future.

Janice Taouma, who manages the A’oga Fa’a Samoa early learning service and attended the Auckland summit, commented on the values that came through the summit workshops, especially wellbeing and identity.

“These are the values that we in early learning work for – they’re all part of our Te Whāriki curriculum,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see that all of the sectors are highlighting that those values need to be across the board. So we would hope that in the future, the values that we aspire to in early learning are carried throughout schooling.”

There will be opportunities for anyone who wishes to contribute to the development of the strategic plan for early learning through an online survey which will be released in June. The Ministerial Advisory Group and Reference Group will be meeting again in July and August, and a draft strategic plan will be released for public consultation in September.

We love Oat the Goat!

Oat the Goat.
Children with Oat the Goat resources.

An interactive online story book, Oat the Goat, which aims to teach children about empathy, acceptance and tolerance, was launched as part of Bullying-Free NZ Week, 14-18 May 2018.

Available to read in both English and te reo Māori, Oat the Goat | Oti te Nanekoti is designed to help 4-7 year olds learn about the power of kindness.

By now, you should have received your Oat the Goat pack, which has been sent to every early learning service and kōhanga reo. Enclosed in the pack are posters, discussion prompts for a classroom learning experience, and a sticker for each child.

Please place the posters where parents will see them and share the story book with your early learning service community using your regular communication channels, Storypark or Facebook, to help spread Oat’s important message that “kindness wins in the end”.

Classroom resources(external link) are available on our website. Email oat.thegoat@education.govt.nz if you haven’t received your Oat the Goat | Oti te Nanekoti pack.

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