ECAC minutes and presentations - March 2016

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 2 March 2016, 9am to 2:15pm in Room 2.02 Mātauranga House, Wellington.


ECAC members

  • Nancy Bell, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  • Kathy MacFarlane, The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools
  • Penelope Janes, Barnados New Zealand
  • Charmaine Thomson, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Sally Wooller, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Marianne Kayes, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Trisha Benge, Early Intervention Association Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Tanya Harvey, Early Childhood Leadership
  • Viv Butcher, New Zealand Playcentre Federation
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Evan Kidd, New Zealand Homebased Early Childhood Education Association
  • Thelma Chapman, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation
  • Kararaina Cribb, Te Kohanga Reo National Trust
  • Arapera Royal-Tangaere, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust

Ministry of Education

  • Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support
  • Lisa Rodgers, Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement
  • (Manager), Manager, ECE Resourcing and Implementation
  • Ruth Shinoda, Associate Deputy Secretary, Education System Policy
  • (Manager), Senior Manager, ECE Policy
  • Karl Le Quesne, Associate Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement
  • Susan Howan, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support


  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office
  • Deborah Wansbrough, Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand


  • Clare Wells, New Zealand Kindergartens Inc
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa NZ
  • Jenny Hayes, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – the Correspondence School
  • Dr. Andrea Schöllmann, Deputy Secretary, Education System Policy


  • Marianne Kayes, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand


  • (Senior Advisor), Ministry of Education

Welcome, karakia and introductions

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

  • Welcome, karakia and introductions were completed.
  • Welcome to new members Penelope Janes, Raewyn Overton-Stuart and Sally Wooller.
  • Apologies and previous meeting minutes were approved by email.
  • It was noted that the Ministry has some work to do to promote discussion on some agenda items.
  • Deborah Wansbrough acknowledged Val Burns, who recently passed away.
  • Katrina acknowledged the recent accident involving staff at Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.
  • This is Nancy Bell’s last ECAC meeting for Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand.  Katrina thanked Nancy for her contribution to ECAC over the years, and Nancy in turn thanked the Ministry and ECAC members for their collegiality and commitment to supporting our tamariki in their early learning.

Strategic directions for early learning

The chair asked the group to consider what is meant by quality in the early learning environment.  Key discussion points on this included:

  • There is a workforce component to quality; attitudes and behaviours.  It was noted for context the research around quality and qualified teachers.
  • Where there is quality there are children highly engaged in learning and their parents and whānau know this.  Most early learning services do well at supporting wellbeing and social competence, but ensuring we provide a stimulating environment is where we need to focus and improve.
  • Quality includes intentional leadership and teaching – the ability to intentionally co-construct a curriculum and support and drive the curriculum for meaningful engagement.
  • Interactions between adult and child will make the most difference.  What do kaiako and teachers need to support children and whānau?  The adult is also on a path of development.
  • The whānau and community is an important part of the quality conversation.  There is a cultural overlay, and active participation of the whole whānau is needed across the whole learning pathway.
  • The group agreed that parents and whānau are looking for quality for their children; how can we help with the understanding of quality?  It was noted that one person’s view is different to another, but it is important that all parents and whānau are thinking about it.

The group discussed quality in the context of a child starting school.  Key discussion points included:

  • On starting school, children should be ready to build relationships, have respect for themselves and others and be confident in themselves.
  • It was noted that early learning is about preparing a child for life, not just school, and research shows how critical early learning is.  It was agreed that there is not a one-size-fits all approach to achieving this, but there will be common elements.  Embracing differences is valued.
  • The group acknowledged the need to keep the focus on a child’s individual capabilities and needs; that teachers need to accept the child for who they are.
  • Where children have come from and where they are at now is important.
  • The transition between early learning and school was discussed.  Sharing early learning/portfolios with new entrant teachers is a key to a good transition, along with engagement with parents and whānau.

The chair explained how important it is for everyone to be involved in this conversation.  The group agreed that this conversation would continue at future ECAC meetings.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Continue quality conversation at future ECAC meetings. Katrina Casey, Lisa Rodgers, Ruth Shinoda, ECAC members During 2016

Early learning sector in Communities of Learning and the establishment of an ECAC sub-group

Stephanie Mills (NZEI) and Ruth Shinoda (Ministry of Education)

  • The Ministry has been working with NZEI on what would be needed for the early learning sector to actively participate in Communities of Learning (CoL).

The Joint Initiative:

  • Stephanie gave an overview of the Joint Initiative (JI), launched by the Ministry of Education and NZEI.
  • NZEI and the Ministry of Education launched the JI in late 2014 to support the progress of Investing in Education Success (IES).  IES is a Government initiative aimed at lifting student achievement as well as offering new career opportunities for teachers and principals.
  • Initially, the main mechanism for implementing IES was Communities of Schools.  The outcomes of the first phase of the JI is for Communities of Learning (CoL).  A CoL forms around a clear learning pathway, from early learning to primary and secondary school, and beyond.
  • The JI early learning workstream has included doing “deep dives” into successful projects to establish some key principles; there are some videos on the NZEI website about these.  The fundamental principle is that the early learning sector needs to be an equitable partner.  The focus is on the child and their learning pathway.
  • The Ministry and NZEI have agreed to investigate whether and how existing resourcing can be accessed by early learning teachers who are part of a CoL – there are exciting opportunities for supporting transition and lifting quality.

ECAC CoLs sub-group:

  • A paper proposing an ECAC CoL subgroup was circulated prior to the meeting.  Ruth asked for feedback on the paper and called for nominations for the group.
  • The key purpose of the group is to provide sector advice to the Ministry of Education to support and facilitate the participation of the early learning sector in CoL.
  • The proposal is for the group to be run by ECAC members.  This would include providing input into the Ministry’s work programme, proactively raising issues and ideas, concerns and emerging areas of good practice.
  • The early learning sector operates differently to the school sector and has different needs, and it is important to capture this in the design phase of the work, eg network considerations, parental choice.
  • The paper needs to reflect the diversity and operational reality of the early learning sector.  The connection with other work needs to be visible, eg AGEL, other sub-groups.
  • There was some discussion about how the achievement challenge works.  All CoL develop achievement challenges and plan for how to meet these for all children in their community.  There are currently 18 CoL whose achievement challenges have been endorsed, some of which refer to the transition challenge between early learning and school.
  • The group also discussed resourcing (allocated and disseminated by the CoL) and that a minimum number of FTEs are required to generate a CoL.  This is a particular area of concern for kōhanga reo and kura, which are often quite small in size.
  • It was agreed that the Ministry would pay for travel costs for sub-group members to travel to Wellington for meetings, if required.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Circulate project videos from NZEI website. Ruth Shinoda, Secretariat 23 March 2016
Circulate information about already endorsed achievement challenges to ECAC. (Chief Advisor), Secretariat 23 March 2016
Confirm strategy for Māori medium pipeline within a CoL setting. Katrina Casey TBC
Update and recirculate ECAC CoL sub-group paper. Ruth Shinoda, Secretariat First sub-group meeting
Send expressions of interest for ECAC CoLs sub-group to Ruth Shinoda. ECAC members 18 March 2016
Confirm ECAC CoL sub-group members with ECAC. Ruth Shinoda, Katrina Casey 1 April 2016

Early learning policy update

Ruth Shinoda, Ministry of Education

Funding system review:

  • The Ministry is working on directions for change and these are being considered by the Minister of Education.
  • The Ministry is committed to consulting with the early learning sector, and Ruth will advise timing of this once confirmed.  Consultation may be similar to that undertaken for the review of the Education Act, eg regional workshops run by Education Directors
  • It was confirmed that discussions with the Minister of Education include the work of the previous advisory group.

Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL):

  • A table summarising the advisory group’s recommendations and next steps to promote discussion was circulated prior to the meeting, and Ruth called for feedback on this.
  • ECAC members discussed the first recommendation to commission an update of Te Whāriki.  It was likely this would be a refresh rather than a full update.  Lisa asked the group for ideas on how this could be done in a practical way and implemented quickly.  It would need to be tightly-focussed, but consultation would still need to take place.  Further feedback from ECAC is welcome.
  • The recommendations for professional learning and development were also discussed.  It was agreed that sharing best practice was important.  We also need a clear picture of the differences we are making with the Strengthening Early Learning Opportunities (SELO) programmes – are the good practice results being sustained?
  • It was noted that recent ERO national evaluation reports are a good place to access good practice, eg the recent mathematics report.  These are positioned as a guide for teaching and learning, and a catalyst for improvement. 
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Funding system review – keep ECAC updated on progress and plan for ECAC engagement; future agenda item. Ruth Shinoda During 2016
AGEL – how does the early learning sector share best practice?  Future agenda item. Katrina Casey During 2016

Special Education Update

(National Manager, Practice) and (Programme Manager Special Education Update), Ministry of Education

Just before Christmas the Minister of Education released the results of the Special Education Update engagement and the Update Action Plan (external link) .  The views came from over 3,600 participants in 156 workshops, and have provided a really good platform from which to work.  The chair encouraged the group to review the Update Action Plan.

Improvement projects:

  • (National Manager, Practice) provided an overview of the improvement projects currently underway.
  • A number of key themes were identified through analysing the engagement results, and some of these were presented regionally for response.
  • There are now 22 improvement projects underway across the country, at various stages of implementation.  Some have provided a good opportunity to improve on what is already happening and others are new.  An A3 snapshot of these projects was circulated to the group.  The group discussed the projects underway in three sites:
    1. Franklin – a dedicated early learning teacher is working across several early learning services to look at referrals and response.  Responses occur within 2 days, and there is positive feedback from services and families.
    2. Canterbury – a team including the early learning service, Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) and Ministry staff are working collaboratively on a holistic response to young people’s needs around transition.
    3. Nelson – advance planning for transitions between early learning and school, including RTLB engagement to support transitions.

Special Education Update:

  • (Programme Manager Special Education) provided an overview of the process to date and the engagement findings.  It is a priority to maximise the benefits of the consultation.
  • The current model is not sustainable, and we need a system to maximise resources and better target and tailor services for better outcomes.  We are moving from a system based on sector inputs and resources to a system based on the needs of the learner.  Support needs to be provided at the right time and in the right way.
  • Fundamental changes will need to be made to the way Ministry staff operate, as well as attitudes, behaviour and relationships throughout the service.  It will involve a new approach to child centred practice.
  • The proposed model fits well with other priority work and Communities of Learning (CoLs) delivering local solutions.
  • The Ministry will report to Ministers on the next design phase in about June 2016.  The Ministry will engage with ECAC going forward and keep the group informed of timeframes.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Keep ECAC updated on progress and plan for ECAC engagement. (National Director Special Education) June 2016

Address by Peter Hughes

  • Peter provided an update on the Ministry’s recently reorganised structure, explaining that there is an early learning focus across all the Ministry’s groups – Evidence, Data and Knowledge; Education System Policy; Early Learning and Student Achievement; and Sector Enablement and Support.
  • Peter acknowledged the importance of ECAC, and expressed his wish to continue to work collaboratively with the group.  He invited members to email him any time.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items    

Education Council Update

Graham Stoop, Education Council

  • Graham gave the group an overview of the Education Council’s role.
  • He explained how the Education Council differs from the previous Teachers’ Council.  The former Teacher’s Council was a Crown entity and a regulatory body – it received instruction from Government on priorities.  The Education Council is an independent statutory body.
  • The Education Council has a dual focus – public interest and professional interest.  The Council continues to build internal capacity and capability.

In the area of public interest:

  • Certification – the Council is seeking to change the way this process works to make it smoother for teachers.  There are approximately 18 staff at the Council who process approximately 40,000 renewals each year.  The aim is to have a smarter, smoother, online process.  It will take some time to get up and running.
  • Vulnerable Children Act – this was enacted at the same time as the Education Council was put in place.  Proof of identify component is requiring some navigation.
  • Discipline – the Education Council is working hard to get a balance between respecting an individual’s rights and public interest.
  • Graham explained that a number of workshops have taken place this year to progress work on standards and practising teacher criteria, the code of conduct and the future of Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

In the area of professional interest:

  • Communities of Learning (CoLs) – the Council is working on support for leadership roles within CoLs.  It is also working with the sector to develop a programme/curriculum to support these roles.  The support for those holding these roles is likely to be different to that for those holding principal/management roles.
  • Professional learning and development (PLD) – is there a role for the Education Council in PLD across the early learning and school sectors?
  • Advisory Groups – the legislation allows the Council to form advisory groups it thinks necessary.  The ECE and Māori medium advisory groups will continue in the meantime.  Two positions on the ECE Advisory Group will be temporarily filled by nominations from key ECE groups.  ECAC expressed an interest in being kept informed about the ECE advisory group.
  • Conflict of interest policy – the Council is developing some guidance on this.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Circulate ‘think piece’ on ITEs when finalised to ECAC.

Deborah Wansbrough
Graham Stoop

When finalised
Update ECAC on the nomination process for the ECE advisory group. Deborah Wansbrough
Graham Stoop
Prior to June 2016 meeting
Circulate draft conflict of interest policy guidance to ECAC. Deborah Wansbrough
Graham Stoop
23 March 2016

ERO Reports

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Consider how best to keep ECAC informed of upcoming/recently published national evaluation reports. (Manager) Secretariat 2 June 2016
Provide briefing on oral language report at a future ECAC meeting. Sandra Collins TBC, when ready for release
Invite Iona Holstead to present ERO’s strategic direction for early learning at next ECAC meeting.  Secretariat  2 June 2016

Wrap-up and planning for next meeting

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education

  • Katrina invited members to submit requests for agenda items.
  • List of action items and minutes to be circulated and published as usual.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Send suggestions for agenda items to Secretariat. ECAC members As required.

Meeting closed: 2:15pm

Next meeting: Wednesday, 15 June 2016

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