Lecture1_v2 - NZ

Early Childhood Education
Rights, Research and Policy
Anne B. Smith
NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting
University of Otago
Early Childhood Education
Rights, Research and Policy
Anne B. Smith
NZ-UK Link Foundation Visiting
University of Otago
Definition and Value
• Rights are claims that are justifiable on legal
or moral grounds (James & James, 2008)
• They provide rights holders with respect and
are a resource for child advocates
• Rights-holders can exercise agency – agents
make decisions, negotiate with others,
change things (Freeman, 2011)
Respect for children
“Not only is the Convention a nearly
universally adopted expression of respect
for children as persons, but it is also
unparalleled in its conceptual breadth.
No other human-rights treaty directly
touches on so many domains of life”.
(Melton, 2005, p. 648).
United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child
• Children should have be provided with education
that helps them meet their potential - ‘the
development of the child’s personality, talents and
• Children should be protected from harmful,
neglectful or abusive treatment (19)
• There should be no discrimination on grounds of
gender, SES ethnicity, disability (2)
• Children have a right to survival and development (6)
• Children should have a say in their own lives, and
access to information (12 and 13)
Challenging Dominant
• Constructing children entirely as dependents
denies them the chance to act for themselves;
• Children are resourceful as well as vulnerable;
• Position children as authoritative knowers 
transfer of learning, persistence, engagement
(Carr, Smith, et al, 2010 Learning in the
New Lens on Childhood
Passive recipient of adults’ teaching,
protection and care
Children as social actors and active
participants in constructing their own
Theoretical Perspectives
• Move from Developmental Psychology
– Normative approach
– Children as vulnerable objects of concern
– Universalizing claims
• Emergence of interdisciplinary field of Childhood
• Links with sociocultural theory –
– multiple cultural pathways to learning,
– context of social relationships and interactions,
– guided participation towards agency
ECE Policy in NZ – 1986- 2008
• an integrated system of education and care
• a bicultural, holistic, socioculturally-oriented
curriculum (Te Whāriki);
• innovative assessment (Learning Stories)
• a strategic plan (Ngā Huarahi Arataki) –
improving participation and quality
• the 20 hours ECE for 3 and 4 year-olds
1. Integration 1986-1987
• Division of preschool (education for middleclass children)/childcare (care for children
whose parents ‘had to’ work)
• Integration of ECE under Education Dept
• Integrated 3 year training (benchmark)
• Unified funding and regulatory framework
Role of Research and Rights
• Right of child to a quality ECE regardless of age,
mother’s work status, or hours
• Visits by Urie Bronfenbrenner, Bettye Caldwell
(developmental psych but sociocultural)
• US longitudinal studies (Perry, Abecedarian,
Syracuse studies)
• Shaped arguments that ECE had a lasting effect
on child’s well-being and was a useful
2. Curriculum and
Assessment in ECE
• Te Whāriki (Early Childhood Curriculum) is
oriented towards encouraging autonomy,
exploration, commitment and communication
• Emphasis on learning rather than performance
- meaningful problem solving rather than skills
• Children are valued as active learners who
choose, plan and challenge
• A climate of reciprocity and ‘listening’ to
children - how their feelings, curiosity and
interest are engaged
Assessment: Learning
• Formative assessment - ethnographic,
interpretive and narrative methods
• A holistic transactional model encouraging children to become
competent and confident learners
• Focusing on dispositions
• Inclusion of parents’ and children’s
Including the Child’s
“ Assessments that include the “child’s
voice” or children making a contribution
to their assessments encourage an
orientation towards learning goals….
Teachers who pay careful attention to
children’s voices gain windows into their
world views and assumptions”. (Carr, et
al. 2005, p. 3, p. 4)
Outcomes of This
• Teachers have positive belief in children’s
• More involvement and support from families
• Teachers grow in confidence and willingness
to try out new things
• Children ‘own’ their own learning
“Everyone waits with bated breath as they hear
stories they have heard so many times before
but never lose interest in hearing again” (Carr
et al, 2004
Role of Research and Rights
• Rights incorporated into philosophy: – voice, agency,
• Informed by ecological and sociocultural research
(Bronfenbrenner, Bruner, Donaldson);
• Warm engaging relationships (Howes &
Droege,1993; Greenberg, 1992) – not formal
• Qualitative research contributed to resource
development (Podmore, Carr), evaluation projects
looked at outcomes (Linda Mitchell).
3. Early Childhood Strategic Plan
• Meade Working Party (2000)
– Universal entitlement to free, high quality ECE
– Review of regulatory and funding systems
• Widespread consultation with EC sector
• Government response - Pathways to the
Future: Ngã Huarahi Arataki 2002-2012
Three Goals
• Increasing participation in quality
ECE services;
• Improving quality of ECE
• Promoting collaborative
Key changes
• Dramatic increase in funding (doubled since 2007
and trebled since 2004);
• Moves to a qualified EC workforce (currently
– By 2007 50% will be registered teachers
– By 2012 100% will be registered teachers
• Review of funding and regulations
– Better ratios and group sizes
• 2004 government promised 20 hours of free ECE
for all 3-4 year-olds
Role of Research and Rights
• Rights philosophy incorporated in SP
Working Party Report – right of every child to
free high quality ECE;
• Literature review on Effects of ECE (Smith et
al, 2000) commissioned by MoE – informed
• NZ longitudinal study Competent Children
Competent Learners.
Outcomes of Policies
• High participation rates in ECE – from 92% in
2002 to 95% in 2012, 90.9% for Māori, 86.8% for
• Shift to longer hours – 40% enrolled for 20 hours
or more;
• 2008 UNICEF report – NZ 6th highest in OECD
for participation rates;
• Improvements in quality (Mitchell, 2011), NZ
rated 9th out of 45 countries for affordability.
A Side Effect of Policies
• Rapid expansion of private-for-profit centres
(identical entitlement to funding);
• Growth of 47% private services (2007 to
2011), compared to 2.8% in community
• Profits to owners or to shareholders;
• Poorer salaries, working conditions, services
located in higher income areas.
Fiscal Restraint
• National government comes to power in
economic downturn 2008, they
describe ‘blow out’ in EC funding;
• Immediate cuts to:
Professional development
Centres of Innovation
Goal of 100% qualified teachers
Improvements in ratios.
‘Early Childhood Education Being Targeted by National For Funding Cuts’ 22/4/10
BUDGET: 20th May 2010
Childcare funding slashed
Early childhood educators devastat
Preschool costs to rise
Budget launches attack on
quality teaching
for youngest learners
Qualification and quality divides
It is a matter of personal
belief as to whether a
high proportion of all
centre staff should be
trained teachers.
John Key, Prime Minister,
It is a matter of an informed
and evidence-based
educational decision. These
questions would never be
raised about adults who teach
5-6 (or older) year-olds in
We had hoped that 100%
qualified teachers for all
children in EC made us
different from other countries
….and would contribute to the
government’s aim of equitable
and quality outcomes for
children from all backgrounds.
Margaret Carr and Linda Mitchell,
Research evidence?
There is no research
evidence that centres
with 100% qualified
teachers are better
than with 80%
Anne Tolley, Minister of
Education, 2010
• Such research would
be hard to do. There
are few countries that
employ 100% qualified
ECE teachers. There
isn’t any research either
which shows that 100%
qualified staff isn’t
better than 80%
• Anne Smith, 2010
Recent Research
(Meade et al, 2012)
• To compare the
quality of centres
with 100% qualified
staff and centres
with 80% qualified
100% qualified centres
•More open-ended
•More engagement in
sustained shared
•Children more
independent and more
Directions for change
Labour: investment in inputs
National: accounting for outputs
Compulsory ECE for
children of beneficiaries
All beneficiary parents will
be required to send their
children to for at least 15
hours a week from age
three - a way to ensure
children of beneficiaries
"get the best possible start
in life".
• flexibility for social sector
agency staff to work with
these parents to make
suitable arrangements.
• a graduated sanction
system where parents
would receive reminders
of their obligations
before losing half of
• A children’s rights perspective and
UNCRC are important tools for change;
• Including children’s voice builds better
policies and practices;
• Research is most helpful if there is
political will;
• Alliances between advocates for children
and researchers essential.
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