Children have hand in protest

Drawing hand prints as a message of support for the Ako Early Learning Centre are (from left) Nav...
Drawing hand prints as a message of support for the Ako Early Learning Centre are (from left) Nav Boys (4), Hannah Mather (4), Josh Knight (4), teacher Sue Morey, Archie Colquhoun (4), Liam Hicks (2) and Nadia Koni (3). Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Ako Early Learning Centre, in Dunedin, is putting its weight behind a New Zealand Educational Institute initiative to oppose cuts to early childhood education (ECE) funding.

Cuts to most ECE services will be introduced on Friday, but it will be marked by a nationwide day of protest.

From Friday, the Government will no longer offer a support grant to fund advice and guidance programmes for newly qualified teachers - a cut of about $4000 a teacher.

New Zealand Kindergartens chief executive Clare Wells said "the Government is not only reducing funding but also saying that 100% qualified teachers do not matter if the child is under 5 years old".

Corstorphine's Ako Early Learning Centre teacher Sue Morey said all its staff were fully qualified.

"Qualified staff absolutely make a difference to children's learning," she said.

Dunedin Community Childcare Association director Jo Ellis said qualified staff were able to deliver the ECE curriculum, extend children's learning and development and encourage children and family learning in a way no unqualified teacher could.

The Dunedin Community Childcare Association would now focus on ways to keep offering a quality education to children despite cuts.

"Our ability to deliver quality has definitely been compromised."

The Dunedin community had been hit particularly hard by cuts to qualified teacher support, she said.

"Dunedin is a highly qualified community because of the access we have to tertiary providers."

The nationwide NZEI initiative had been well supported.

Centres nationwide would hold a "day of action" on Friday, to show they were "not OK with the cuts", Ms Morey said.

A poster with children's handprints and comments on what they like about the centre would be the centrepiece on the action day in Dunedin.

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