Teacher fee increase puts more stress on ECE due to Government underfunding

Doubling teacher registration fees will place more stress on early childhood education because the Government has not made good on promises to fund fair pay for ECE kaiako. 

“As a membership organisation of ECE services and kaiako, we’re hearing serious pain and concern from members whose personal and professional budgets are stretched to the limit,” Te Rito Maioha Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe says. 

“It shows the breaking-point stress on both services and individual kaiako after years of under-funding ECE by successive Governments and half-measures that have failed to fund full pay parity for ECE kaiako.” 

The Teaching Council has been consulting teachers on proposed increases to its fees and levy. For most teachers, the total for renewing a practising certificate would increase from $220.80 to $472.21 for three years. 

“I want to be clear that we value the work of the Teaching Council. It’s important for kaiako to support the standards of their profession through a body such as Teaching Council, and we understand its financial need after a decade of no fee increases or additional Government funding,” Kathy Wolfe says. 

“But, because of ongoing pay disparity, what may be a necessary fee increase places a disproportionate burden on ECE kaiako as well as those ECE centres which pay the fees on behalf of their kaiako. 

“ECE kaiako are as highly qualified, do the same work and pay the same professional fees as their kindergarten and primary counterparts – but the Government continues to fund ECE pay at a lower level – especially for more experienced kaiako.” 

The average annual salary for a degree-qualified teacher at an education & care service is $55,964 (or $26.91 an hour) compared to $72,880 for qualified teachers at a kindergarten. 

“We’ve heard a lot of promises and talk about how much the Government values early learning, quality teaching and qualified teachers for our youngest tamariki,” Kathy Wolfe says. 

“We urge the Minister of Education to make good on his promises and fund ECE adequately to deliver full parity and fair pay for all ECE kaiako in the upcoming Budget.” 

Kathy Wolfe says today’s introduction of the Fair Pay Agreements Bill to Parliament is a step in the right direction. 

“But let’s not forget that the Government itself is responsible for funding ECE services adequately to pay kaiako and support staff fairly – and we are still calling for this to happen. 

“There’s not an ECE service among our members who wouldn’t love to be able to pay their staff more. 

“Critical changes are needed sooner rather than later to the ECE funding model to sustainably implement fair pay for all kaiako.”