The latest issue of Education Aotearoa has a must-read article citing Prof. Peter Gluckman.
“The Prime Minister’s science advisor, Professor Peter Gluckman, says the early years are crucial for improving outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and socialisation is the key.”
“One of the problems for people working in early childhood education is the mismatch between the rhetoric and the reality.
We are told that the early years are the most important, and yet the funding has been cut in so many ways. Those working in the sector think the ratio for under-twos is far too high. There was some tinkering in the 2012 budget, but no real improvement (go to “winter extras” at http://www.educationaotearoa.org.nz for more details).
We know that the most disadvantaged children need the best teachers, yet with increases in parent fees, low income children are less likely to have access to qualified teachers.
The budget did increase equity funding for about a quarter of services in low income communities, but this was at the expense of inflation-adjusted funding for all communities.
Government announcements about quality teaching have been silent on the quality of early childhood teaching, and yet an obvious way to make an immediate improvement would be to require 80% of teachers in regulated positions to be qualified.
At the moment, only 50% of teachers need to be qualified, and in mixed age centres, it is possible that children under two will not spend any time with a qualified teacher.
Children from deprived circumstances need intensive, costly programmes, including home visits focusing on parents.
Sir Peter says the current emphasis on numeracy and literacy in primary education shouldn’t overshadow the development of social and emotional skills.
He identifies self control, which includes self discipline, conscientiousness and perseverance, as a trait that can be developed with quality early education education programmes.
He also says there’s limited money and there would be better returns by rethinking some of the current programmes.”