The Bulletin: Minister moves to overhaul Early Childhood Education

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Minister announces major new ECE plan, climate scientist sign open letter calling for more real climate action, and water rationing considered in Hawke’s Bay.

A major new plan to overhaul early childhood education has been unveiled by the government. Radio NZ has a rundown of the key details of the plan, but the topline is this: the government is targeting better qualified teachers, and more of them per child. Education minister Chris Hipkins also went on Newstalk ZB yesterday to explain the changes.

Currently, there are ratios of teachers per child that ECE centres are meant to meet as a minimum. Mr Hipkins wants to see that ratio come down, with one teacher for every five kids two years old, and one teacher for every four kids under two. As well as that, the proportion of teachers that need to be fully qualified at each centre will go up. Pay increases are also on the table.

Quality control is also being considered through surprise audits, potential closing of problem centres, and blocking companies with bad records from opening new centres. That’s important because as Radio NZ’s Insight programme reported last year, serious question marks hang over some centres, and it could be putting children at risk.

To make all of this possible, the money’s going to have to be better for teachers, given the current context of industrial action among primary and secondary teachersCurrently ECE teachers make, on average and according to PayScale, about $23 bucks an hour. But that’s on average, which means a lot of teachers are well below that – for example, this Stuff feature earlier in the year outlined how some were basically on the minimum wage. The minimum pay does go up for qualified ECE teachers to $19.74 an hour, but that’s still not a heap of money, and according to that report some qualified teachers don’t even get it. And moreover, there is currently a shortage of qualified teachers, and there are questions around how exactly large numbers of new people will be attracted to the profession.

So while the government is putting in more money, the cost of Early Childhood Care might rise for parents too, reports the NZ Herald. Under certain conditions parents can get up to 20 hours a week of ECE paid for by the government, by Mr Hipkins told Cabinet that there was a good chance some centres would pass cost increases on in the form of fees. And as parents will already know, free doesn’t necessarily mean free when it comes to ECE – here was Jai Breitnauer writing about it on The Spinoff earlier in the year.


150 scientists have signed an open letter expression frustration at the pace of action on climate change, reports Radio NZ. One of the authors, Professor James Renwick, said “a lot of people and a lot of policy makers don’t appreciate the scale of the damage and the cost and the losses involved if we don’t tackle the problem.” He added that there was no choice but to act now and in much more far reaching ways. Of course that’s not true though – we could also choose to do nothing and watch society collapse from the effects of climate change.


Water rationing is being considered in the Hawke’s Bay, as the region starts to go dry for summer, reports Radio NZ. There’s also consternation about who is getting access to the water that is still flowing. More than half of the allocated water in the region goes to just six dairy farming consent holders. But other businesses are facing going under if they don’t get enough water.


Rocket Lab might have a bigger connection to the US Defence industry than was previously thought, reports The Spinoff. The tech startup’s investment from weapons manufacturer Lockhood Martin is well known. But there are also connections to drone manufacturing, ‘patriot’ missiles, and a venture capital firm owned by the CIA.


Tolaga Bay’s beach has been mostly cleaned of the logging debris – known as ‘slash’ that was brought down in flooding earlier this year, reports Māori TV. It’s a promising sign for businesses in the town, which is gearing up for a busy summer season. But it’s also good for locals, for whom the slash made the beach dangerous to use and collect food from.


You’ll probably have seen the terrifying stories of fires burning through huge swathes of northern California. Researchers in New Zealand are looking at those fires, and thinking about how the billion tree programme can be managed so that it doesn’t end up creating a potential firebomb in a warming world, reports Newsroom. The research even involves getting out a barbecue and literally grilling different types of trees, to see how they burn.


The Defence Force have also withdrawn from the Auckland Pride parade, in solidarity with their comrades in the police, reports Stuff. Police – who were barred from wearing uniforms, not from marching – decided not to participate at all as a result, sparking heated controversy. That controversy also blew up at a meeting on Sunday, at which a scuffle broke out, reports Newshub.

As an aside, while they’re certainly not perfect on these issues, the Defence Force were actually named the most LGBT-inclusive military in the world in 2014, as outlined in this really interesting Listener article.


From our partners: Lithium-ion batteries are magnificent feats of engineering and vital for renewable energy. But if we’re not careful with them, they’ll create enormous environmental problems, writes Vector Senior Sustainability Advisor Juhi Shareef.


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Devonport man David Slack glides across the harbour to the central business district, Auckland

Right now on The Spinoff: Ok this section is really long today, but there’s way too much good stuff on the website right now. So: Unionist Alastair Reith outlines a view from the left why there weren’t so many strikes under the last National government. Musician Anthonie Tonnon laments the loss of passenger rail – the inspiration for a new tour he’s doing. My former maths teacher Bernard Beckett has written a thoughtful and insightful take on the ‘trivial’ history exam debate. And I spoke to some builders about how Council consent processes are making it difficult for them to make money despite the boom.

But wait, there’s more: David Slack, raconteur and angry ferry user, sizes up the new plan from Fullers to fix their service. Henry and Alice return with another frank discussion about money, this time talking about how to manage money in relationships. And there’s a lot of cult telly on Lightbox at the moment – Sam Brooks has picked out the best titles.


How’s the new Australian PM going? His name is Scott Morrison in case you had forgotten, and the answer is… not particularly well at all. The Monthly has wrapped a recent bus tour he made around marginal seats ahead of an election next year. Polling indicates that ScoMo’s Liberal Party support has since slumped, and the tour seems to be a perfect example of a fundamental but often-forgotten truth about democracy – voters aren’t as stupid as politicians seem to think they are. Here’s an excerpt from The Monthly:

“But while the marketing ploy was considered sound, the execution was all too awkward, so, for the most part, Morrison used his VIP aircraft instead, while the hapless bus driver trundled around after the PM so he could be photographed in front of the vacant vehicle.

Not a method of transport, just another billboard. This is what our leader and his media acolytes consider authenticity.

And this devotion to spin over substance is rapidly becoming the ScoMo brand. Indeed, even the nickname sounds more like a logo (or perhaps a cartoon dog) than a serious politician.”


So if you were watching the cricket test last night, and went to bed at lunch like I did, you made a huge mistake. Why? Because you missed one of the all-time great comebacks. The Black Caps have pulled off the 5th narrowest test win of all time, and it was mostly down to the skill of debutant Ajaz Patel. Stuff have profiled him here – I’ll be honest, I had barely heard of him before this tour. I reckon I’ll be remembering the name.

The Football Ferns are scoring goals again, which nicely draws a line under the grim and negative Andreas Heraf era. Granted, these goals came in an 11-0 demolition of Tonga at the Oceania Nations Cup, and as Stuff reports, that was actually five goals fewer than when the two teams last met. Another tournament to maybe keep an eye on – the U17 Football Ferns at through to the quarterfinals of their World Cup after wins over Finland and – remarkably – the hosts Uruguay. This long-range goal from Kelli Brown to beat Finland was particularly cool.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them.


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