Saturday, August 14, 2010

You don't need a degree to change nappies...

As you well know the National government has cut the requirement for fully qualified teachers in ECE as a way of saving money. They opted to save the hugely popular 20-hrs free policy which although icky leftist interventionist shite, gets neo-liberal results of kids in school and mums into work. So back to 80% it goes with the under-two nursery taking the impact.

How did it work? 80% qualified staff was the minimum set (many years ago) to take effect this year. Most centres were sorted long ago – Kindergartens have been 100% qualified for years now... but the corporate-run centres have dragged their arses to save money despite the bonuses available – they just don't compete against minimum wage Nana's eh.

So we have a huge number of centres operating on this topped up budget that have just taken a huge cut. The bastard politicians have cunningly managed to pass the financial consequences of the funding short-fall onto parents. It's now up to centre's if they want to charge parents more. They'll have to – or fire their qualified teachers... They're the baddies now.

The move is kick in the guts to the professional status of teachers, it panders to the burgeoning  business of pre-school at the expense of pedagogical quality, and reveals a Government agenda that is akin to 'bums on seats' with its 'you don't need a degree to change nappies' crap.

Hot off the news-wire is that Kidicorp is in the poo, a SFO investigation is looking at how they spend our money and hints that something is fishy around the funding bonuses for 80%+ qualified centres...

Which is interesting as it was only three months ago that Kidicorp was throwing its weight in support of this benchmark.
Fiona Hughes (speaking in the New Zealand Herald 27 May 2010), is chief operations officer of Kidicorp, Aotearoa's largest private provider of early childhood education. She nailed her neo-liberal colours to the post and also showed how she doesn't have a fucking clue when it comes to current educational pedagogy:

“Centres don't need a qualified teacher changing nappies, but you do need them to observe children and look at how they might extend their learning.”

Yeah, you hire some Nana on minimum eh?

What bullshit.

Caregiving moments are now identified as key periods in the relationship building process that forms the basis of all further @ko.

Following contemporary Gerber/Pikler philosophies where teachers are trained not to play with infants/toddlers, but to be in a position of 'wants-nothing', that is, there is no adult agenda other than to ensure safety and respond if needed to enhance learning opportunities. This approach is a combination of development theory, 'play as learning' Vygotskian theory, and respect.

Teachers don't interrupt or intervene – as we well know, we learn through mental challenges, we learn through our interests, and through the ups and downs of relationships.

Critical stuff yes, but its success hinges on the fact that a secure emotional base is established for the infant/toddler to allow them to venture into the big world. That attachment is created during caregiving moments of eating, sleeping and nappy-changing.

Hughes' statement says a lot for corporate centres. They have a reputation for clinging to a teacher-directed curriculum with the barest nod to attachment theory. They are about the management of children – the changing of nappies is just a shitty job that gets rotated through the cheap staff.

Yes they care about children, about education... but only if it pays.

Recently I was in a centre that operated like this. No primary care system, interchangeable staff placed where ever there were gaps, compulsory teacher-led activities, blah blah blah.

ERO were surprisingly happy.

Yep. Despite being a decade behind in educational theory, our Government was quite okay with it all.

Hughes also says “give children this chance at education early and then we might need fewer prisoners”.I assume she meant prisons, but whatever, the typo is quite funny in light of the purpose of education being to produce homogenous citizens who think alike and follow orders...

The messages from Govt and big business are clear enough:

While ECE is proven critical to further educational success/indoctrination, it's business as usual, the goals will remain ourgoals for you, we define them, we control them... we control you.

Yeah right.


Anonymous said...

I thought a big impact of the policy change to 80% qualified teachers was people responding to the "shortage" of credentialled ECE teachers. My thoughts earlier described here:

I am thinking that recent graduates (or soon to be graduates) will find themselves in a precarious position of having taken up loans, salary sacrifices, et cetera but now chasing fewer funded jobs than anticipated. Is this a fair speculation?

ako said...

yes to both of your points.

You have to wonder if one Ministry hand knows what the other is doing.

With high unemployment many want to become teachers - there is a huge and well publisiced shortage - but the Govt caps Uni intake levels... while continuously promoting ECE.

The shortage was only going to effect the private sector who have taken the cheap option for as long as possible. Like I said, Kindergartens have mangaged to get themselves fully staffed - they even managed to bounce back after the 20hrs-free came in and poached their catchment of kids by going full-day with an extra teacher.

Quality programmes attract the staff? Does this let a substandard business-model service off the hook? I know teachers who have being trying to get into Kindy's for years - "they hang in there until death" one told me recently.

The 20hrs-free policy created a rush on ECE services - surely this was foreseen??? Vote catching?

Maybe this policy should have been split 50/50 with more going to training new teachers. Chicken before the egg stuff.

and yeah, I think the loss of funded jobs is going to put centres in a position of pedagogy or income. Talk of passing costs onto parents might quieten down if parents stay away and competition heats up... but in todays world I can't see that happening with keeping up with the Jones' etc

I think the lines wil be drawn around profit.