ECAC minutes and presentations September 2016

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met on 8 September 2016, 9am to 2:45pm at Mātauranga House, Wellington.


ECAC members

  • Tanya Harvey, Early Childhood Leadership
  • Clare Wells, New Zealand Kindergartens Inc
  • Marianne Kayes, Hospital Play Specialists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Hellen Puhipuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group
  • Evan Kidd, New Zealand Homebased Early Childhood Education Association
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa NZ
  • Kathy Woolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand
  • Penelope Janes, Barnados New Zealand
  • Jo Young, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Charmaine Thomson, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Susan Bailey, New Zealand Playcentre Federation
  • Susan Foster-Cohen, Early Intervention Association Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Thelma Chapman, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Peter Reynolds, Early Childhood Council
  • Kararaina Cribb, Te Kohanga Reo National Trust
  • Deborah Wansbrough, Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office

Ministry of Education

  • Susan Howan, Associate Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support (chair)
  • Ruth Shinoda, Associate Deputy Secretary, Education System Performance
  • Nancy Bell, Director, Early Learning
  • <Senior Manager>, Senior Manager, ECE Resourcing and Implementation
  • <Senior Manager>, Senior Manager, ECE Policy
  • <Senior Adviser>, Senior Adviser, ECE Implementation Planning (secretariat)


  • Karen Affleck, The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools

Welcome, karakia and introductions

Susan Howan

  • Susan welcomed the group, particularly new members Kathy Woolfe, Susan Bailey and Susan Foster-Cohen; Tanya opened the meeting with a karakia.
  • Apologies, minutes and actions were previously circulated by email and confirmed.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

ECAC Communities of Learning subgroup

Tanya Harvey and Clare Wells, NZ Kindergartens

Refer to paper circulated.

Tanya provided some background:

  • An ECAC COL subgroup has been formed to provide sector and employer advice to support early learning sector engagement in COL (subgroup #1).
  • A group from the ECAC COL subgroup (subgroup #2) has been formed to develop a paper which identifies barriers and puts forward proposals to support engagement.
  • Tanya explained that the paper is in draft form and there are still details to be worked through.  The paper was circulated to ECAC members, who were asked if the proposals were workable and what needed further consideration.
  • The paper takes into account the report of the Joint Initiative.

The paper sets out:

  • Principles and criteria to support early learning sector integration into COL
  • What engagement means
  • A process for engagement in COL
  • Establishing thresholds for participation
  • Barriers to ‘buy-in’

General discussion points:

  • It is important to send a message to the education sector that there is still opportunity for early learning services to be involved and that there are solutions to barriers identified.
  • The endorsed achievement challenges are very relevant to the ECE sector – there is research which can bring credibility to this.
  • It is important to ensure the right people are contributing to the discussion, ie understand pedagogy and curriculum etc; some further work needs to be done on this.
  • There are challenges in the COL model for some parts of the early learning sector.  Any solutions must ensure that all early learning services can participate, eg hospital-based services, kōhanga reo, playcentre, children who need learning support.  These areas need to be explored further.
  • How do we ensure meaningful engagement with parents and whānau?  There is a need to ensure solutions offer a more holistic approach.
  • The group discussed the possibility of some case studies which could show how services can fit.


  • Recently published material, although targeted at schools and early learning services, is very school-centric – the early learning must be represented in any COL material.  The COL subgroup could review documentation prior to publication to ensure this occurs.
  • Communications to the sector need to provide good information on how to engage in the conversation early, eg who to contact and how. 
  • There is a need to work with NZSTA and regional Education Directors to provide good aligned advice on early learning sector involvement in COL.


  • Given the number and location of early learning services within a catchment area, there could potentially be a large number of early learning services in a COL; services could be in more than one COL.
  • The paper developed by subgroup #2 proposes establishing “thresholds” to enable practical engagement.  All schools and services in a COL could be involved in the development of the achievement challenge, but only those above established thresholds would participate at strategic and lead-teacher level. 
  • The data used for the paper included kindergartens, education and care and home-based services.  Once data for playcentre and kōhanga has been included, the thresholds may look different.
  • The thresholds need to allow for a range of service types to participate; the plan needs to be flexible.


  • There was some discussion on what the lead teacher role would look like for early learning services, eg work across all services within the COL.  Further work needs to be done to clarify this.
  • The key is for the lead teacher to ensure open communication.
  • The important message is that this role is not for an administrator, but a pedagogical leader.

Professional Learning and Development (PLD):

  • It was acknowledged that some work needs to be done in this area.  PLD needs to be generic enough and not just about the achievement challenge.
  • Early learning sector teachers may not feel confident to contribute, particularly where work is underway; there is potential for PLD in this area.

ECAC members:

  • Endorsed the key concepts and approach in the paper.
  • Acknowledged their role in ensuring the sector can participate in COL.
  • Can assure their membership that the COL subgroup is developing a process.

Next steps:

  • ECAC members to provide further thoughts and comments on the paper.
  • Subgroup #2 will refine the paper.
  • The concepts in the paper will be shared with the Education Directors later this month.
  • The ECAC COL subgroup will meet again soon and consider the updated paper.
  • Communications for the sector can continue to be developed.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Share link to COL video on NZEI website with ECAC members. Charmaine Thomson, Secretariat ASAP
Update the COL subgroup paper 'ECE engagement in COL' based on feedback from ECAC members. Tanya Harvey ASAP

Quality work programme, including Te Whāriki update

Nancy Bell, Ministry of Education

Refer to presentation slides [PPTX, 3.5 MB].

Key presentation and discussion points:

  • Defining quality is challenging.  The Ministry of Education’s purpose is to lift aspiration and raise educational achievement, but these words may not seem appropriate in the early learning context. 
  • Quality is not just about structures – the Advisory group on sector-wide quality noted that quality is evidenced where learning is valued by whānau.
  • The diagram in the slides shows a systems approach – all the elements in this slide are in the Ministry of Education’s sights.
  • We have nearly reached our participation goal that by 2016, 98% of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education.  We are now at a challenging stage in terms of the participation goal.  Sustained participation is needed to form good relationships that enable learning, and this is fundamental to quality.
  • It was acknowledged that enrolment in a licensed or certificated service is not necessarily the right form of early learning for every child – could it be that the participation rate now is no longer so appropriate? 
  • Engaged whānau are fundamental – the Kiwis Count Survey (external link) shows that more than 80% of whānau are satisfied with their child’s early learning service.  We now need to focus on strengthening and extending good practice and meaningfully involving parents in this conversation.  What are the indicators for parents and those of the early learning profession?  It is challenging articulating this.  Refer to the recent ERO publication Partners in Learning (external link) .
  • A rich curriculum is a key element of quality, but not all children are experiencing this breadth or depth.  Refer to the ERO publication Infants and toddlers competent and confident communicators and explorers (external link) .
  • Responsive pedagogies are important – the Now We’re Talking (external link) project uses rapid cycle change and is an example of services that have identified how to improve outcomes.
  • Assessment for learning and timely and tailored support for children with additional needs are also key elements of quality.
  • What kind of learning workforce is needed for quality provision?  There was some discussion about ITE, post-graduate qualifications, PLD and COL.  It is important that any analysis around this includes the whole sector, ie educators and kaiako, not just teachers.  There is PLD redesign work underway and this includes evaluation.
  • The Minister and Ministry of Education are bringing a joined-up 0-18 lens to the quality work programme.

The Whāriki Update

Refer to presentation slides [PPTX, 3.7 MB].

  • The slides provide an overview of the direction for the update, the writing team, the timeline and the current status of the work.
  • There will be some user hubs during October, including one for ECAC members.
  • Some members expressed concern that there was no plan for wider sector consultation.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Share questions from Kiwis Count Survey with ECAC members. Nancy Bell, Secretariat ASAP
Provide detail on qualification data collected (eg from kōhanga) and incorporate this into a presentation on workforce at December ECAC meeting. <Senior Manager> December 2016
Consider the December meeting focussing on some key questions to explore and answer, rather than specific agenda items. ECAC members
MOE attendees
December 2016
Confirm and send out date and details for ECAC Te Whāriki user hub. Nancy Bell, Secretariat December 2016

Learning support update

David Wales, Ministry of Education

Refer to presentation slides [PPTX, 2.8 MB].

  • David presented an outline of the Ministry’s proposals to Cabinet, which were all approved on 4 July 2016. 

Key discussion points:

  • The importance of the language change in the title of the presentation was noted – strengthening inclusion and modernising learning support.
  • There was some discussion about the investment slide presented; it was noted that it would be useful to consider how other sectors may overlay on the graph, eg health.
  • Some conversations and detailed thinking needs to occur around teacher capability and alignment with PLD work underway to ensure a successful rollout, and this will happen towards the end of this year.  Capability building is already underway, eg in the way speech language therapists work with teachers and not just children.
  • Qualifications of the current and future workforce is in the Ministry’s sights.
  • How the new agency Tamariki Oranga fits within the design still needs to be worked through and these conversations have begun.  We are not waiting for external decisions on that framework to progress our redesign.
  • Inclusion is a requirement for schools but not for the early learning sector – do we need a policy of inclusion in the licensing requirements?  David acknowledged that there may be a need for more legal authority, but better results are achieved when we work civilly with children and families.
  • The key is locating children and starting support earlier.  We need to gather evidence to show that what we’re doing is making a difference.
  • There was positive feedback from ECAC members on the changes, and enthusiasm for ensuring success.
  • There is more information about the Learning Support Update on the Ministry’s website.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Funding review update

Damian Edwards and <Chief Policy Analyst>, Ministry of Education

Damian provided some background to the current status of the work:

  • Proposed directions for change were developed to start discussion.
  • The Ministry has been working on these with the Advisory Group and the reconvened Sector Advisory Group on ECE Funding (SAGECEF). 
  • There have also been 90 regional sector engagement meetings led by the Education Directors.  A range of early learning services attended and contributed, with willing and active engagement overall.
  • A number of guiding principles underpin the proposals.  The final report from the Advisory Group provides feedback on the proposals, and is available on the Ministry’s website.
  • The Ministry has developed some advice for the Minister of Education, which she will consider.  More specific recommendations for change are expected to go to Cabinet in mid-October.

Damian explained that:

  • It has been challenging engaging on concepts as opposed to detailed design.
  • There are a variety of views from the education sector, but all are interested in a successful system and quality education for our children and families – there are different ways of achieving this.
  • The system is not broken; we are considering if there are better ways of working.

There was some discussion about the challenge of bringing coherency across the 0-18 pathway, the COL context, and how to identify and target resources for children at risk.

It is expected that December’s ECAC meeting will be able to focus on next steps.

There is more information about the Education Funding System Review on the Ministry’s website.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Education Council’s professional work programme

Pauline Barnes, Education Council

Refer to presentation slides [PPTX, 2.8 MB].

  • Pauline reminded the group about the difference between the previous Teachers’ Council (a regulatory body) and the current Education Council (a professional body).
  • The Council’s key functions from the Education Act are listed on the Education Council website (external link) .

Pauline gave an overview of the Education Council’s goals:

  • Strengthen a self-managing profession
  • Build professional capability
  • Enable leadership of a coherent high-performing education system
  • Speak out and speak up for the profession
  • Enhance our organisation’s effectiveness.

The Council has a number of new projects underway.  The Council is future-focussed and has a highly collaborative approach to projects – ensuring the early learning sector is well-represented in the work is a priority.  The intention is for leadership across the system.

ECAC members were positive about the Council’s open engagement and willingness to receive feedback. 

Professional services projects currently underway include:

  • Code of professional responsibility – information gathering processes have helped identify need.  Resources are under development to sit alongside the code, including case studies and discussion starters.  Pauline encouraged feedback on how the code could be improved.
  • Review of practising criteria and standards – there will be a focus on this project over the next few months and work will include focus groups.  The aim is to develop some high-level standards with indicators sitting alongside. 
  • The future of ITE – there is a report identifying areas for improvement in ITE and Pauline encouraged members to read the paper Strategic options for Developing Future Orientated Initial Teacher Education.  A number of issues are under consideration, including whether a post-graduate qualification should be the benchmark for entry into the profession.  There are lots of conversations to be had in considering how this might be achieved.  The next step is to agree an action plan and indicative timeline with key stakeholders. 
  • Centre of leadership excellence – the Ministry provided the Council with some seed funding for a leadership programme.  Some work has been completed, including a national leadership event and regional leadership hui.
  • Information about these projects can be found on the Forum page of the Education Council’s website (external link) .
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Digital Technologies Curriculum Implementation Reference Group

<Principal Adviser and Senior Adviser>, Ministry of Education

Refer to presentation slides and report circulated [PPTX, 844 KB].

  • <Principal Adviser> provided some background information about the reference group, which now includes an early learning sector representative nominated by ECAC.
  • A report from the ECAC representative was circulated to members following the reference group’s last meeting.  The report called for feedback from ECAC members on the draft Terms of Reference (ToR) and two key questions:
    1. In 3 years time, how will we know if digital technologies are being implemented really well in COL, schools, kura, wharekura, and what were the necessary steps that contributed to this?
    2. What can your organisation offer to support this?
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
Provide feedback on draft ToR and two key questions, as per ECAC rep’s report following the last reference group meeting. ECAC members 22 September.

Joint Initiative Report

Charmaine Thomson (NZEI) and <Senior Manager> (Ministry of Education)

Refer to report circulated.

  • The Investing in Education Success (IES) framework was dedicated to the school sector.  The NZEI membership responded by asking about how the early learning sector could be involved.  The report of the Joint Initiative (external link) is a response to this.
  • The report identifies a range of challenges for early learning services to participate as equitable partners in COL, and provides some recommendations on how these can be addressed.

The joint recommendations include:

  • The Ministry to investigate whether and how ECE services me ngā kōhanga reo can access existing resources.
  • Exploring with the sector and employers how early learning sector leaders can be appointed to COL leadership roles, and how to resource release time.
  • Investigating making changes to the Teacher-led Innovation Fund (TLIF) to enable early learning services to be fund-holders.
  • Providing better guidance and communications to the early learning sector.
Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Other discussion items

Reorganisation within Ministry’s Sector Enablement and Support

Susan Howan

  • Susan explained that there has been a minor reorganisation of some roles reporting to her.  The Group Manager ECE role has recently been re-established and Anthony Newton is fulfilling this role.

Investing in Children

Susan Howan

  • Tamariki Oranga welcomed their new Chief Executive on Monday.  Legislative changes are underway, and service and practice design which will occur in stages.  The Ministry is working with workstream leads to ensure alignment with the Ministry of Education’s work programme.  We are seeking consultation with/a briefing for ECAC in due course.

Penelope closed the meeting with a karakia.

Action itemsResponsibilityDeadline
No action items.    

Meeting closed 2.45pm

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