Early learning centre officially opens

India Barnett (2), Marco Bjork (2) and Mateo Bjork (2) join the pre-schoolers' sing-a-long. Photo by James Beech.
India Barnett (2), Marco Bjork (2) and Mateo Bjork (2) join the pre-schoolers' sing-a-long. Photo by James Beech.
"We're living the dream" is how team leader Gill Hodgson described seeing KingsView Early Learning Centre officially opened on Friday after 13 years of work.

"I feel today we've put our stamp on the ground to say we're here and here for good."

The centre in Frankton welcomed its first children in early May, after a $350,000 renovation and more than a year gaining consents.

Its official opening was celebrated on Friday. More than 100 children, pupils, teachers, parents, board members, supporters and guests applauded, as Deputy Prime Minister and Clutha-Southland MP Bill English cut the ribbon.

Mr English acknowledged mention by other speakers of the Government's support for early childhood education and said it was important it involved the spirit he saw in KingsView. The centre was there to support the parents, he said.

"We do have a pretty good system, where anyone who can meet the licensing requirements can start up an early childhood centre, which means we get all these places that reflect their particular community, or the particular nature of the education and care parents want, or in this case the direction for KingsView and where they want to go," he said.

"We need to keep the system as open as possible and I will make sure as far as I can influence it that we keep early childhood education and care where parents can influence it."

Mr English said the Government spent about $800 million a year on subsidies for the early childhood education system four years ago.

Next year, it was going to be $1.3 billion as more people used it, reflecting the commitment the community had to supporting parents.

Guests enjoyed afternoon tea while exploring the fully equipped and furnished centre, which supported 24 children, or 11 a day.

A 25th child was expected to join today.