It is widely researched and acknowledged that quality early childhood education gives children a great start in life and lays the foundations for future inquiry and an appreciation for learning. We work to ensure that children moving from the centre to school possess the skills they need for learning and participating in a larger and more complex environment, thus a successful transition and learning progression in the new school. We work with the local schools and new entrant teachers to make sure we are aware of their needs and can build them into our programmes.
Being in an early childhood environment also means the children spend one to one time with qualified teachers who are skilled in educating and helping children to develop their knowledge. It is also recognised that qualified ECE teachers provide the best learning experience for children. The minimum qualified teacher ratio is 50% and an expected level is 80%. We are pleased to say that our qualified teacher ratios are consistently over 80%. This is something many centres do not achieve.
While we have achieved high qualified teacher ratios, we have also made a commitment to overall staffing to ensure we exceed Ministry of Education guidelines for child to teacher ratios. The guidelines are 1 teacher to every 10 children over the age of two and 1 teacher for every 5 children under the age of two. Once again it is widely researched that the smaller the group size per teacher the better the learning outcomes are for the children. We are really pleased that the average teacher to child ratios that we have been achieving over the past year is 1 to 6 for over twos and 1 to three for under twos. This is very much at the higher end of teacher to child ratios in New Zealand and helps provide the best possible outcome for your child at The Paihia Early Childhood Centre.
The government has been working to increase the number of children participating in early childhood education for the past eight years by way of the 20 ECE hours for children over the age of three. This is based on the value of early childhood education outlined above. This covers the basic cost of early childhood education for up to 20 hours per week. Where centres exceed the basic standards for teacher ratios and resources they are able to apply a small surcharge. In our case the centre provides over and above the minimum teacher ratio and qualification standard to achieve smaller group sizes and more one to one teacher time, as they are key indicators of quality early childhood education outcomes along with all meals prepared by our qualified Cook.
20 ECE hours is available on the basis of a minimum of four hours per day, morning or afternoon for up to 6 hours per day as this is the maximum number of hours the government will fund per day. Any time over six hours a day or more than 20 hours per week incurs additional charges. WINZ subsidies are also available in some cases to assist with attendance fees. There are still some children in our community who are not participating in early childhood education who may benefit from time in a quality early childhood environment. If you or anyone you know wants to learn more about 20 ECE hours please come and talk with the team to discuss how we can help.