Tēnā koutou katoa
As I write this Playcentre Awareness Week is in full swing. This has been an opportunity to showcase the uniqueness of each and every Centre. The willingness to share Playcentre resources and philosophy with our local communities is making Playcentre Awareness Week a great success.
This is my first Playcentre Awareness Week since I started in my role in September of last year. It has been a steep learning curve to understand all the different facets of Playcentre and how everything comes together to benefit whānau and tamariki. The more I learn, the more impressed I am with what we are doing together.
The amalgamation process and the introduction of the new Playcentre Education programme have provided some challenges to Centres.
In this update I want to focus on Education, the amalgamation and the Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan and share some positive news and major developments.
Thank you to everyone that has provided valuable feedback to the Trustee Board and the Management Team. We have been working actively behind the scenes to address some of the issues. I can now share what we are about to put in place to address the concerns that have been raised.
As you are aware, as a result of NZQA working to ensure all qualifications are more uniform, there was a move away from a multitude of individual qualifications to single national qualifications. This meant the old Playcentre qualification was replaced with a new education programme called the NZ Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care L4. The transition to the new education qualification for licencing requirements was required to be in place by the beginning of 2021.
Centres have voiced concerns that this timeframe is too short, there is not enough available education, and more coordination is needed to assess the needs of individual Centres to ensure they have the required people to run sessions. Here is a brief update on what we have planned, more detail will be shared with Centres and Regions as we progress with these plans.
- The 2021 Deadline for Transition: We are currently negotiating with the Ministry of Education to extend the transition date out by 12 – 18 months. This will mean the new licencing requirements will not come into effect until at least 2022 giving Centres more time. We should be able to confirm this by the end of March. The Ministry is very supportive of Playcentre and wants us to succeed. Accordingly, I do not anticipate any issue with the deadline extension and as soon as we have agreement, I will advise everyone. We will then update our resources with the new dates.
- Availability of Workshops and Resources: The Education Team have the PIA and PEA in place and the remainder of the programme is almost complete and ready for delivery. We are providing additional resources to ensure more available workshops. We will also soon provide for parts of the qualification to be completed online. Our regional Education Coordinators will be meeting in Wellington on 27 March to help us plan a more targeted approach to delivery that allows for the individual needs of Centres based on geographical location, current qualifications held by Centre members.
- National Education Coordination: Scoping, drafting and implementing the new Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care has been a huge task. We are grateful for the expertise of Gillian Croad, Glenda Caradus and everyone that has worked with them to get us this far. It is quite an achievement. We now need to ensure that our implementation programme allows for the particular needs of individual centres. Having centralised information on every Centre about the qualifications members hold, financial health, property information, and geographical location, will help us better plan and support Centres. We are working on the development of an information system that will be easily available to Centres. This system will allow Centres to update the information themselves so that we have a better understanding of what support is required at a local, regional and national level. To start this process, we need to ensure that we have someone in place to bring this information together. We will begin with Education and build from there and I look forward to sharing more on this in the coming months.
I’m pleased to inform everyone that we are on the final stretch. We need to sign off on the last two affidavits to take to the High Court to complete the process. Thank you for all your patience, hard work and willingness to see the process through. As soon as the High Court date is confirmed we will send out a message to everyone.
Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan
The feedback on the Ministry of Education Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan is due by 15 March and you can complete the survey here and we have also provided additional information to inform your response here.
A number of members have raised the issue that the Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan is focussed more on the teacher-led, commercial day-care sector and that Playcentre, the Playcentre philosophy and the value of play is not featured.
I attended the Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) meeting on Wednesday 6 March and raised this issue with the Minister, Ministry Officials and other members of the sector. The purpose of ECAC is to foster a relationship between Government and the early learning sector to achieve common goals and through our membership of ECAC we have been involved as part of the reference group involved in the development of draft strategy. It was heartening to hear the Minister of Education, the Hon. Chris Hipkins, response. As you may be aware the Minister himself was a Playcentre child and he is very supportive of Playcentre and the view that play is learning. Minister Hipkins noted that the group drafting the plan acknowledged the value of parent-led and play-led services such as Playcentre and the contribution to early learning. It was his view that this was “banked” knowledge and that the Early Learning Strategic Plan was about building on that knowledge in other areas. This was supported by Ministry Officials and other sector members. This is good to know but it would also be good for anyone from Playcentre responding to the Draft Early Learning Strategic Plan to reinforce the value of Playcentre philosophy and positive outcomes of parent-led services.
Thank you for all you do for Playcentre. Without you all, Playcentre would not be able to provide the valuable service to New Zealand’s society and our local communities. Hopefully the above information goes some way to assuring you that we are listening and working on your behalf. I look forward to sharing more updates as we progress.
Ka kite anō au i a koutou.