Lowest paid teachers to receive pay boost

The government’s Budget 2020 provides a $151.1 million funding boost over four years for early learning services to improve the pay of up to 17,000 qualified teachers working in education and care services.

A significant pay gap between early childhood education (ECE) centre teachers and other teachers in schools and kindergartens has built up over time. The previous Government increased kindergarten funding rates to meet the cost of pay settlements, and did not pass on the same increase to education and care services, as had been done previously.

The minimum salary for teachers working in early childhood education centres is currently $45,491 or $46,832, depending on the qualifications held by the teacher. On 1 July 2020, the minimum salary will increase to $49,862 – bringing them in line with kindergarten teachers’ pay.

As we respond to the impact of COVID-19 to our society and economy, the Government remains committed to fair pay for lower-paid workers, especially the workers who have helped get the country moving again,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The majority of children participating in early learning attend an education and care service – in 2019 135,237 children (68%) attended this type of service.

“This funding boost goes some way towards levelling the playing field for ECE centres looking to employ qualified teachers but I do acknowledge that fully closing the gap between education and care services and kindergartens will be a challenge to be addressed over a number of Budgets,” Chris Hipkins said.

From July 2020, education and care services will receive the additional funding through a 2.3% increase in their subsidy rates. Education and care services, like other early learning service types, will also receive a 1.6% increase in their subsidy rates from 1 January 2021 to help meet cost pressures over the past year, for a combined increase of 3.9% to current rates.

The cost adjustment for early learning services costs $122.7 in operating funding over four years.

In this Budget, we’re investing $36.2 million of additional funding over four years to support home-based early learning services transition to a more professionalised educator workforce. This will lift the quality rate for home-based early childhood education by 5.4% from 1 January 2021, including the cost pressures adjustment. Home-based services on the standard rate with educators completing the Level 4 ECE qualification will also gain five hours of additional visiting teacher support per week, and funding will provide tertiary fees assistance for up to 2,646 students that are not eligible for fees free.

“Home-based early childhood education has been the fastest growing part of the early learning sector. In the future at least 80% of the home-based educator workforce will hold a required qualification, to ensure better and more consistent quality,” Chris Hipkins said.

In addition, Budget 2020 also provides extra funding of $3.1 million over four years for playcentres. “The increase in funding rates from July 2020 will help support more than 400 playcentres so they can continue to provide this unique early learning choice to around 9,500 children and their families,” Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said. Playcentre rates will rise by 7.6%, including the cost pressure adjustment.

“High quality early learning is a right of every child and their parents and whānau, to give them the best possible start in life. That’s why this Budget also provides $7.8 million for the Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Education Provider Assessment Group to continue its work to ensure that early childhood education services meet quality and safety standards,” Chris Hipkins said

“Our $320.8 million investment in early learning in this year’s Budget supports the move to higher quality early learning that prioritises the learning, wellbeing and identity of every child as set out in the Early Learning Action Plan,” Chris Hipkins said.

NZEI Te Riu Roa welcomes up to 9.6% pay rise for the lowest-paid qualified teachers 

NZEI Te Riu Roa ECE representative, Virginia Oakly, says the announcement is a great first step, and a real win for the 14,000 supporters of the union’s ECE Voice campaign to fix the pay gap in ECE. 

“This is fantastic news. We welcome this as a great first step towards pay parity for early childhood teachers following a decade of neglect by the previous government,” says Ms Oakly. “Today’s announcement means there is now the same minimum rate of base pay for qualified teachers right across the sector.”

“As the Education Minister himself says, achieving pay parity for all teachers will require more work and more funding across a number of Budgets. We’re asking that the Government keeps this as a priority as it looks to rebuild from Covid-19.”

“Teachers are playing a critical role in supporting tamariki through the current crisis. The Government’s commitment to fair pay for lower-paid workers throughout their Covid-19 response should be applauded,” she says.

“NZEI Te Riu Roa looks forward to working with the Government on the next steps towards pay parity for all early childhood teachers.”

The pre-Budget announcement means that on 1 July, the minimum salary for qualified ECE teachers will increase to $49,862 – bringing them in line with kindergarten teachers’ starting pay. 

The minimum salary for teachers working in early childhood education centres is currently $45,491 or $46,832, depending on the qualifications held by the teacher. On average, early childhood teachers outside of Kindergarten earn 23% less than other teachers with the same qualifications and experience. In some cases the gap is up to 49%.

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