Swings + Roundabouts Summer 2023

PLEASE SHARE THIS MAGAZINE! If you know anyone who would like to read the interesting and informative articles in Swings & Roundabouts, pass it on! ISSN 1179-688X (Print) • ISSN 1179-7517 (Online) PO Box 5649, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145 SUMMER 2023 Let stories live forever – place-based learning Persons Responsible Changes – Not Wanted, Not Needed, Not Now NZ ECE Teacher Shortage: Kaiako feedback Recognising a child’s sensory processing needs

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Inside this issue... Editor Trudi Sutcliffe Editorial Enquiries publications@ecc.org.nz Advertising Enquiries Catherine Norton Waterford Press Ltd PO Box 37346, Christchurch, New Zealand. Phone: 03 983 5526 Email: catherine@waterfordpress.co.nz www.waterfordpress.co.nz Production Co-ordinator Luke Lynch Content Co-ordinator Lyn Barlow Graphic Designers Liki Udam Subscription Enquiries Early Childhood Council PO Box 5649, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145 Phone: 0800 742 742 Email: admin@ecc.org.nz www.ecc.org.nz DISCLAIMER: A cancellation fee of 25% may be charged if the booking is cancelled after the sales cut off date. Your Media Consultant will be able to provide that information if you are not aware of it. Applications for advertising in Swings & Roundabouts will be considered from the following: 1) Early childhood centres and/or their associated management groups that are members of the Early Childhood Council. 2) Trade and service suppliers to the early childhood industry. 3) Government and not-for-profit organisations. Please note: Some industries may be restricted due to exclusive arrangements with the Early Childhood Council. Please note: We do not accept advertisements for staff vacancies. All advertising content is at the sole discretion of the editor. All advertising will be at the rates determined by Waterford Press Ltd. Swings & Roundabouts is produced by the Early Childhood Council and is sent free of charge to all independent early childhood centres in New Zealand. The information contained in Swings & Roundabouts is of a general nature only. Readers should not act on the basis of the information it contains without seeking advice for their own specific circumstances. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the view of the Early Childhood Council Incorporated. All content in this magazine is copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the editor. Swings & Roundabouts is published quarterly for the Early Childhood Council by Waterford Press Ltd. 7 From the editor 8 CEO’s message 12 ECC Update 14 So you know 16 Centre Profile: Rotorua Community Crèche & Kindergarten 20 NZ ECE Teacher shortage: Kaiako feedback 22 Let stories live forever 26 Performancebased management: Getting the best out of your team 28 Our hīkoi ritual 32 Your Evacuation Management Plan 34 Recognising a child’s sensory processing needs 36 Mindfulness games for young children 38 Resource Reviews December 2023 { 5 }

Insider information and advice to keep you safe, viable and compliant Discounted professional development workshops and webinars Preferred supplier discounts and offers Advocacy on your behalf when you need it Latest news and insights Tools and templates PROMOTING HIGH QUALITY ECE AND SUPPORTING INDEPENDENT CENTRES IN NEW ZEALAND ECC Members receive: "We really appreciate the support and advocacy the ECC provides us. Our membership is highly valuable to us." "Extremely supportive when starting up as a centre owner. So helpful to have all the tools, professional development and information readily available." www.ecc.org.nz 0800 742 742 admin@ecc.org.nz JOIN TODAY! "It is a great piece of mind as a stand alone centre to have ECC as a resource to us."

FROM THE Editor Swings & Roundabouts works hard to inform both management and kaiako with its variety of articles and some of these feature articles such as the centre profiles and stories from centres about their mahi can both inform and inspire. From page 16 is a profile on Rotorua Community Crèche & Kindergarten who generously share their story about who they are and what is important – their kaupapa. There are gems here for both kaiako and management. From page 28, another early learning centre, The Learning Space, shares their rituals around their regular hikoi to their local park. With both these articles you get a sense of aroha, calm and excellent communication with tamariki at the heart of everything they do. Another inspiring article comes from Del Costello, where she shares some tips and information in supporting your centre to come alive with the sharing of stories that are connected to where you are and who your community is – your localised curriculum. You can find this article from page 22. But all this hard mahi and aroha like the examples in the above articles cannot be achieved without passionate kaiako and leadership who are supported, well-paid and with good working conditions. The article by ECC Project Advisor Ingrid Crispin shares stories by two kaiako who have suffered stress within their teaching and leadership roles, particularly in relation to the teaching shortage. Ingrid offers some support but also asks the reader, Do you know of other ways to help make working as an ECE teacher more attractive so that we can retain our best and recruit more to our sector? The ECC are open to your ideas so please get in touch with Ingrid and share your thoughts and help our youngest tamariki realise their potential to build a strong foundation for later learning and for life, as the above whakataukī from Te Whāriki advocates. The CEO Message also alludes to possible centre closures if centres do not have enough time to implement and comply with the upcoming changes the Ministry recently announced around ‘Persons Responsible’. As Simon suggests, these changes along with our teaching shortages could mean centre closures which can lead to whānau to having less choice and with less centres may mean higher fees (due to the high demand). Children should be at the heart of all our decisions as a society - "He taonga te mokopuna, kia whāngaia, kia tipu, kia rea." Thank you to all our spring contributors. Ngā mihi Trudi Sutcliffe Editor "He taonga te mokopuna, kia whāngaia, kia tipu, kia rea." "A child is a treasure, to be nurtured, to grow, to flourish." Calling for Job Applications - Editor – Swings & Roundabouts ECC is calling for applications for people who are interested in becoming the new editor of Swings & Roundabouts. Our editor, Trudi Sutcliffe, has completed a long and distinguished stint and is ready to hand over the responsibility so she can focus on new opportunities. Ideally our new editor will have experience in magazine publishing/editing and have a connection to the early learning sector. ECC’s magazine is a great communication channel and is distributed for free to all centres in New Zealand, and to other stakeholders. It’s intended to be read by early learning leaders, teachers and other people involved in the sector or interested in early learning. Swings & Roundabouts is published four times per year. If you have questions or would like to apply, please contact admin@ecc.org.nz. Applications close on 15 January 2024. Complete applications should include your curriculum vitae and a cover letter that outlines why you are interested and what would distinguish you from other applicants. The Editor role could be established as an employee or by contract. December 2023 { 7 }

ECC and ECE centre leaders were surprised by the announcement on 31 August 2023 of a new regulatory change to the early learning system, just 45 days before the election. This change was in the form of a new set of requirements on key teachers in every centre, called ‘persons responsible’. New parity funding and changes to police vetting and risk assessments were also included – you can read about those changes in the Early Learning Bulletin He Pānui Kōhungahunga. It is highly unusual to have significant regulatory changes so close to an election cycle. In this article I attempt to pry into what was going on here, and what impact these new persons responsible requirements could have on the ECE sector. Just before general elections, we can usually be assured a little bit of ‘quiet time’ from government departments. For those operating ECE centres, normal times are not quiet. They involve a need for constant vigilance: the education ministry is like a factory constantly producing new ideas and changes to the sector to react to. ‘Quiet time’ is supposed to start about the point where the politicians leave Wellington and go on the campaign trail. During this ‘quiet time’, departments have to check their every move with their Ministers’ Offices. But suffice to say, there will be no plans agreed for more public-facing government activities, unless absolutely necessary. The risk of these activities creating negative noise is just too great. Also, policies take time to develop and even more time to get people to understand and support them prior to delivery. If nobody understands what’s changing, then the changes can’t be implemented. The usual delivery track of new policies tends to follow the three-year election cycle. This is so an incumbent Government can claim credit for all the policies they deliver, and because unless a policy gets delivered within those three years then it is unlikely to be delivered if there is a change in government. So, ministers had better keep on top of their departments. Rather than just waiting for their department to run out of time (or money), competent ministers do the job of holding a public department to account to ensure the delivery of their policies. It is a hard job indeed. Any reforms or work not actually delivered will be subject to review (aka cancellation) by the incoming Government. This makes incumbent governments very good at prioritising the delivery of the policies they really want. As governments approach the end of a three-year cycle we increasingly see them ticking off policies they’ve delivered. Delivered means all the discussions are over and the changes are being put in place. Job done. So why is it that on 31 August 2023, so Persons Responsible Changes – Not Wanted, Not Needed, Not Now MESSAGE CEO's Persons Responsible Changes On 31 August 2023, the Ministry of Education announced changes to Persons Responsible requirements that apply to centre-based ECEs. In summary these included changing the following for Persons Responsible: ● ● Clarifying that persons responsible must supervise and be actively involved with the children in attendance and staff providing ECE from 26 February 2024 ● ● Upgrading the qualification requirements to a Category 1 or 2 practising certificate (this means that provisionally registered teachers can no longer be person responsible) from 26 August 2024 ● ● Requiring all persons responsible to have first aid certificates (on top of the requirement for all adults) from 26 February 2024 December 2023 { 8 }

late in the election cycle, that the Ministry of Education announced the new persons responsible requirements for centre-based ECEs? What was the driver behind these regulatory changes? Changes to persons responsible were part of a suite of changes proposed as far back as 29 July 2020. For eagle-eyed observers, the significance of that date is that it was under the previous Government elected in 2017 (the coalition between Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party). They agreed to commence a ‘comprehensive review of the early learning regulatory system’. Then Associate Education Minister, Hon Tracey Martin’s, briefing contained a choice point that I think set out quite clearly why this review started: ‘The structure of the early learning sector has changed since the Regulations took effect in 2008. Previously, the sector was comprised primarily of community-based services. However, over the past decade, there has been a surge in private for-profit services.’ This is bureaucrat-code for tightening regulation to strangle the regulated: get rid of services or at least slow the surge. The briefing goes on to state the Government’s commitment to a world class early learning system that delivers ‘quality settings for our tamariki’, and that this requires the system to be clear and fit-for-purpose. ‘Quality settings’ is policy jargon at best, but at worst, the term is an example of unrealistic expectations. ‘Quality settings’ conjures up a metaphor of machines with dials that officials in Wellington can actually move to suit their regulatory preferences. That’s not reality. Whereas, in actual fact, changes to the regulations only influence behaviours over a time period, and it is the level of accountability that accompanies changes that actually matters, together with support to help educate people so they know what to do to comply. In the full proposal Cabinet agreed to ten regulatory changes with consultation on those draft regulations to occur over the election period in 2020 (refer Cabinet paper: SWC-20-MIN-0116). Cabinet had already agreed to its changes at that point so the function of subsequent consultation was purely about smoothing the delivery process. It was already very clear what must change – though less so why, or to what extent the new regulations would help manage risk. While it is true those regulations could have been fine-tuned, the changes seemed to be about trying to squeeze out one more policy before time ran out for New Zealand First. Controversially these regulatory changes also included an increase to the minimum temperature requirement in centres – from 16 degrees to 18 degrees, with no assessment of the potential impact on heating systems in centres. Perhaps it was the political history here that drove Labour to attempt to deliver these remaining regulatory changes so late in 2023. Did Labour want to improve their options of being able to form a coalition with New Zealand First after the election? In a scenario where Labour had won more votes and had been in a position to form a coalition with New Zealand First, it might have been helpful, I argue, if they could have shown that they had delivered the policy that was committed to in 2020. Looking at the original decision, Labour’s motivation becomes clearer. Attendance at the Cabinet committee where the decision was made in 2020 included the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, but with neither Education Minister Chris Hipkins, nor Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin present. My assumption is that the Deputy PM (Peters) would have introduced the paper relying on the note provided by Martin, and that the PM (Ardern) would have led for Labour on whether the proposal proceeded or not. Hipkins authored the paper but that’s largely just a form requirement because the decisions required must be made legally by him as the Education Minister. December 2023 { 9 }

Another point to note is that the regulation system review was not included in the Early Learning Action Plan. Its absence from that plan, that the sector was consulted on, is also more than a little conspicuous. It shows support for the regulation changes was political, rather than developed with the ECE sector at all. Interestingly, Martin’s note (METIS 1236086 refers) reveals that Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee had questioned the early learning regulations and recommended ‘completely re-writing the regulations to improve accessibility for users’. It is not clear in the Cabinet paper whether the final tranche in the regulatory review would go that far. ECC is supportive of proper regulatory overhaul. If you think about regulations as ways of influencing behaviours and managing risk, then it’s a really significant issue if the rules they contain are inaccessible to the users. The users of the rules must be early learning centre operators and the people they employ – for the benefit of children and adults involved in services, while parents trust the system and officials administer it. However, I think what we can see now, with the benefit of hindsight, is that the 2020 regulations changes were less about getting better regulation and were rather, more a case of using regulation to expand the ‘nanny state’. Regulation academics consider that the nanny state is the opposite of good regulation where ‘the management of risk should primarily be in the hands of empowered individuals’ and ‘that the state should not interfere unduly to remove that risk’ (p61, Arie Freiberg, Regulation in Australia). Arguably the measurement of success of these early learning regulatory system changes by NZ First would have been the extent they made it harder to operate a centre, with no corresponding improvement required in terms of the risks to children. The real problem with that type of approach is it results in fewer or reduced services, resulting in higher childcare fees (less supply) and less choice (less diversity). Losing choices and reducing access and the diversity of services is not good for families and children. How the changes will actually improve service quality still remains unclear. However, ECC now has evidence to confirm our suspicions that the new regulation will reduce services. We surveyed our members in September 2023, and received data from 181 centres, including submissions from larger ECE group employers. In this regard, ECC’s chief concern is the qualification requirement that means that provisionally registered teachers will no longer be able to be considered as persons responsible. We asked centre leaders whether they would be able to operate under the persons responsible changes. We asked them, ‘If the change happened now what would the impact be?’ and ‘What would happen if they were given only one year to get prepared?’ (as is proposed). With a teacher shortage we were conscious that only one year to prepare for the changes was likely insufficient. Our survey showed that: ● If the persons responsible changes had been introduced in September 2023 it would have resulted in: � 50% of centre operations being at high risk (staffing would be so tight centres could become non-compliant with the changes, due to everyday occurrences like staff sickness) � 8% of centres would need to limit service hours based on their available qualified staff � 4% of centres would not be able to operate at all ● What does this mean? Based on that sample and with 2,700 services in New Zealand, those numbers would see over 1600 centres operationally impacted and over 100 of these would close altogether. ● Of the 1600 centres that would struggle to comply in September 2023, just 14% indicated they would be able to comply if given the current amount of time allowed (until August 2024). ECC became alert to serious errors in the Ministry’s regulatory impact statement that underpinned this regulatory change. When we checked the Ministry’s analysis we found that the data attributed to the Teaching Council about 99% of current ECE trained teachers having category 1 or 2 practising certificates must surely be flawed. Subsequently the Teaching Council confirmed this to ECC, they also wrote to the Ministry with updated data. We now know that Teaching Council data does not reveal what centres the provisionally registered teachers are in (distribution) but it does reveal there are twenty-times more than what the Ministry believed (it’s 20%, not 1%). ECC raised serious concerns with the Ministry about their mistake. A copy of our submission is available if you want to read more on this topic. It is a good example the way ECC helps support all ECE centres (https://bit.ly/40QR4AX). The obvious solution is to give services significantly more time to be able to comply. This would strike a good balance between still getting the change delivered, without leading to such a significant impact on existing ECE centres. ECC will be raising this with the incoming Government. December 2023 { 10 }

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ECC Update Major ECC Policy Updates this Month ECC has been very busy with updates. Please contact the ECC directly if you come across any problems with our templates or if you receive negative feedback from the Ministry or ERO. This helps ensure the ECC resources remain up to date for all members. Pay Parity Letters to Employees – updates for Full Parity and an important improvement Our template letters for opting in to Pay Parity have been updated, including: Pay Parity Steps 1 - 6 sample letter for staff, Extended Parity Steps 1 - 11 sample letter for staff, and Full Parity - sample letter for staff. The new templates now more thoroughly capture the complete salary assessment for each employee and can be found here, https://www.ecc.org.nz/resources/ payparityresources For members that wish to preserve their ability to optout of Pay Parity (for example, if government funding does not match the increased rate payable or if it becomes unsustainable), Black Door Law has tightened up the legal wording. Please note that any situation where you seek to change employment terms is a restructure – including where an employer relies on the opt-out protection. Therefore, before ECC members take that action ECC strongly recommends you first contact Black Door Law through our free Employer Helpline. Review Policy and Review Schedule Template In response to many requests to provide a self-review template, members now have access to our Review Policy and Review Schedule Template and can be found under centre support/policy management, https://bit. ly/3MtBSnI ECE services must have an ongoing process for selfreview (and evaluate their operation); the schedule will make it less time-consuming to identify the different processes and which ones have mandatory review cycles. ECC Update Nau mai, haere mai The Early Childhood Council (ECC) warmly welcomes the following early learning centres that recently joined the ECC: ● ● Little Tui Early Childhood Centre, Hamilton ● ● Kiwikidz Educare Waihi, Waihi ● ● Montessori Rotorua, Rotorua ● ● Natural Wonders Early Learning, Wellsford ● ● The Ark Preschool, Richmond ● ● Backyard Kids, Ōtaki ● ● YMCA Central, Whanganui ● ● Motueka Steiner Kindergarten, Motueka ● ● E Tipu e Rea Early Learning Centre, Christchurch ● ● The Childrens Ark, Auckland ● ● NatureSpace Early Learning, Palmerston North ● ● The Learning Garden, Fielding ● ● Ritimana Kohanga Reo Childcare Centre, Auckland ● ● Wild and Love Early Learning Village, Auckland ● ● Future Stars Early Learning Centre, Auckland ● ● Omanu Preschool, Mt Maunganui ● ● Footprints Educare, Kaitaia ● ● Greytown Early Years Inc, Greytown ● ● He Manu Hou Trust, Timaru ● ● Leaps and Bounds Early Learning Centre, Waiuku ● ● My Preschool Limited, Rangiora ● ● Cornerstone Christian Early Learning Centres, Christchurch ● ● The Meadows Early Learning Centre, Hamilton ● ● Gracefield Early Childhood Centre, Wellington ● ● Scuola Montessori, Tauranga ● ● The Walnut Tree Preschool, Christchurch ● ● Little Flyers Early Learning, Whanganui ● ● Paradise Early Learning Centre, Invercargill ● ● Sparrows Early Learning Centre, Hamilton ● ● Learning Edge Montessori Preschool, Auckland ● ● Eden Early Learning, Nelson ● ● The Salvation Army Early Childhood Education Centres, Wellington ● ● Maraetai Beach Early Learning Centre, Auckland (Provisional) December 2023 { 12 }

Child Protection We have also updated our Child Protection policies and procedures: HS31 - Child Protection Policy, GMA7a - Safety Checking Policy, and GMA7a - Safety Checking Children’s Workers Procedure. The Safety Checking Toolkit is now available to purchase on the shop. Individual employment agreement (IEA) for permanent teaching staff We have updated the standard form for the individual employment agreement (IEA) for permanent teaching staff. This has been a major update and all ECC members are encouraged to immediately look to using this new agreement version for new staff. With ECC’s move from Buddle Findlay to Black Door Law for the Employer Helpline, it was inevitable that we would need to work closely with Black Door Law to ensure the standard form IEA continued to work well (through the helpline we are able to track common employment issues members face). Further updates are coming with all resources being uploaded to the ECC Employment Law webpage. ECC App Have you accessed any of the discounts yet? Get special pricing, check what ECC events are happening, and contact our exclusive helplines, all in one place. While our Preferred Supplier offers and helplines are intended for employers, the new arrangement between ECC and CSC Buying Group means that a huge array of extra discounts can be accessed by ALL staff of ECC members. For more information and download instructions go here, https://bit.ly/47iNnpW Crombie Lockwood takes up Gallagher name ECC preferred insurance provider Crombie Lockwood will now be known as Gallagher Insurance, offering the same high-quality products and services to ECC and its members. December 2023 { 13 }

YOU SO Reducing barriers for overseas teachers Several initiatives offered by the Ministry of Education make it easier for Early Learning Services to recruit teachers from overseas. The Overseas Finders Fee of $3,450 is available to off-set recruitment costs when employing a returning New Zealand teacher or internationally trained teacher. Each early learning centre can receive one Overseas Finders Fee grant a year. Early learning centres applying for an Overseas Finders Fee must have incurred costs (excluding travel) as part of the recruitment. Another popular initiative is the Overseas Relocation Grant, which provides up to $10,000 to returning New Zealand or internationally trained teachers toward the cost of relocating. Key eligibility criteria for both are that the teacher must be registered and certified by the Teaching Council of New Zealand and have a contract for at least 12 months in a school/kura or licensed early learning centre. The teacher cannot have taught in New Zealand in the 12 months before the start date of their new role. “Overseas teachers are an important part of our workforce, and we aim to reduce the barriers to choosing New Zealand as their preferred destination,” says Jolanda Meijer, General Manager, Education Workforce Supply & Leadership. “Teachers apply themselves for an Overseas Relocation Grant, but it is a handy incentive early learning services can promote during recruiting,” says Jolanda. For queries or help with overseas recruitment, email teacher. supply@education.govt.nz to find out how the Ministry’s ‘Navigator’ team can support you through the process. Meanwhile, the extension of funded International Qualifications Assessments (IQAs) for 1,200 overseas trained teachers means teachers will be $746 better off in the process of being able to teach in Aotearoa. Up to 200 funded Teaching IQAs will be accepted each month by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority until all 1,200 funded places are utilised. After this monthly limit, teachers with a job offer who require an urgent assessment can pay $746 for a regular Teaching IQA and then apply to recover this as part of an Overseas Relocation Grant. Alternatively, they can wait for the next monthly funded Teaching IQA allocation. For more information visit: ● ● Home | TeachNZ, www.teachnz.govt.nz ● ● Applying for an IQA to register as a teacher in New Zealand, go here, www2.nzqa.govt.nz/international/recogniseoverseas-qual/iqa/register-teacher/ December 2023 { 14 }

KNOW Kōwhiti Whakapae Kōwhiti Whakapae is the latest learning support available online for teachers. It is designed to help strengthen teaching, learning, and assessment practices for kaiako. The resource has been developed by ECE experts in their fields and includes explanations, samples, and helpful strategies. Kōwhiti Whakapae focuses on three areas across the strands of Te Whāriki: social & emotional, oral language & literacy, and maths. The social and emotional area is available now, with the oral language and literacy, and maths areas due to be released next year. You can find it here, https://kowhitiwhakapae.education.govt.nz. Applications open for 2023/24 Early Reading Together® Early Reading Together® is a series of strength-based workshops for parents and whānau to learn strategies to positively support their children’s reading at home. Families taking part in Early Reading Together® will also receive sets of books to read with their children and practice the strategies they learned from the workshops. Interested in offering Early Reading Together® in 2023/24? Applications for funding are now open. Email reading.together@education.govt.nz to find out more and apply. Early learning services will have 10 weeks to deliver the programme if their application is successful. Further information about the programme can be found here, https://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/System-ofsupport-incl.-PLD/School-initiated-supports/ Reading-Together. If you miss out on the funding and would like to investigate further go here, https://www.readingtogether.net.nz. December 2023 { 15 }

My name is Anna and I have been a part of Rotorua Community Crèche & Kindergarten for over 12 years – 10 as kaiako and the last two as kaiako and Centre Manager, taking over during an August lockdown for covid! Location: We are tucked behind a church, in the beautiful city of Rotorua. Our entrance leads straight into our garden, where you are immediately met with the sounds of laughter and chatter. Expect to be greeted with a cheery hello and an interrogation about your life story as you enter! How many children attend? We currently take up to 30 over two’s and five under two’s each day, and we cater for 0-5 years all mixed in together. Hours open? 8.30am – 3.30pm with 4 different sessions within that. Under 2’s only stay until 12.30pm. How many centres do you have? We are a stand-alone registered charity, notfor-profit centre. Who is your community? Word of mouth is our biggest asset in keeping our roll full and so families come from all over Rotorua. Our community is diverse, with over 10 different nationalities within our centre, and a range of abilities within our tamariki. We are strong in whanaungatanga – the relationships and connections we build are central to everything we do. Our community consists of all those who enter our gates; from grandparents to education specialists, local authors and artists, the librarian who visits each month, the Bunnings girls who do planting with us, the man who fixed our ranch slider and our cleaners – they are all welcomed with open arms, endless questions and they are the ones who support us to do what we love. Our parents are so supportive, and offer their skills from fixing the plumbing, laying a pathway, to building a fairy house. Centre Profile: Rotorua Community Crèche & Kindergarten December 2023 { 16 }

What is special about your centre? We love tea parties, toasting marshmallows on a fire, foot spas, blocks, sand, drums, loose parts, tents, Elf on the shelf (oh yes, we do!). We are proud that we provide a warm inclusive family setting where the concept of tuakana-teina is visible every day as our older tamariki care for and nurture our pēpi. We strongly believe in mixed age learning as this continues what naturally happens in families at home and particularly for Māori whānau where tuakana plays a key role. We ensure we are calm and consistent in our responses and provide a warmth in our approach that is filled with aroha; we don’t rush routines but give tamariki time to go about their day, and this reflects in their relaxed interactions with each other. We have a strong focus on social and emotional skills giving tamariki the language and strategies to approach situations on their own. We are huge advocates for inclusion of tamariki with additional needs in all its forms with around 20% of our tamariki needing some sort of additional support. Our kaiako wholeheartedly embrace new methods and knowledge needed to support these tamariki including Incredible Years Autism, learning Sensory Processing, and using Core Boards to communicate. We have amazing input from an Early Intervention Teacher and Speech Therapist who are regularly in our centre, even attending our staff meetings. Kaiako support each other in teaching, and December 2023 { 17 }

tricky moments, we make each other coffees, and allow ourselves to tap out if we need to. And laughter. There is always laughter here. What is your philosophy? We believe in providing a holistic setting where siblings, cousins and friends can all be together in the traditional family way. We believe in inclusion, individualism and that every single child has the right to be here in our fold, to be loved and nurtured. How long has your centre been open? Over 40 years, evolving from a morning only crèche, to a full day centre catering for all ages. We have always been a registered charity and kept our fees as low as possible so that we are accessible to all those who want to be here. Our logo features our beautiful cherry tree that was planted as a tiny twig when we moved to these premises about 35 years ago and it is now a main feature of our playground; great to climb and hang our swing from, it produces puffy pink blossom in spring and fiery colours in autumn. What do you most love most about your job? What a privilege it is to be able to lead our incredible kaiako and action all our dreams for our special place. I just love being here and am so proud of all the mahi that we do! Our kaiako are the most supportive, beautiful humans; we bring different skills and interests, have strong communication and a collective sense of humour. We are all there for each other and invested in giving our tamariki an educational journey that is unique to them as individuals. And of course, our tamariki, who make my heart swell with pride. The other day I had a tap at my office window which overlooks the garden, and there were little hands passing me a pancake through the window from their outdoor baking session – you can’t be more loved than that! Biggest challenge facing ECE centres now? For us, it is funding and all the complexities around it that make it tough for small centres in particular. Best part about owning a centre? That we are not owned! I work closely with my Admin Manager who crunches the numbers - we have a joint love of graphs, order and the colour purple! We can make our own decisions and provide individual programmes to cater for all different levels of need. We have amazing parent reps who organise fundraising events that bring families together on quiz nights and our family Christmas party each year. The community spirit is strong with us, and I am humbled when I see so many koro and kuia here on Grandparents Day, parents staying at drop off to read, dads fixing our leaky tap, December 2023 { 18 }

recognising that they are part of the early childhood journey of their tamariki. What makes a successful quality ECE centre? Fantastic relationships between kaiako, tamariki and whānau, good communication, good ratios. Kaiako who are enthusiastic, flexible, willing to upskill, contribute and get along with each other (most of the time!). Some days can be challenging, so Managers should check their wellbeing every day, be available with a listening ear, recognise when they need a break or a hug, express and show our appreciation for them with words and actions, affirmations that they are doing an incredible job. I believe Managers should be ECE teachers themselves, teaching alongside their team, so we know what’s going on, see how kaiako are practicing and can then understand what is or isn’t working. You also need to be very organised, follow Ministry rules, get all the paperwork right, and have yummy biscuits in the staff tin! December 2023 { 19 }

As many of our readers will be aware, the New Zealand ECE sector has long been fraught with challenges related to Government funding and regulations. This has been exacerbated in recent years due to the nation-wide teacher shortage, which has resulted in further difficulties for centres recruiting qualified ECE teachers for permanent positions and accessing relievers to cover short term absences. ECC’s most recent Sentiment Tracker survey, which ran in September, reported that 76% (139 out of 182 responses) were either not so confident or not at all confident about their ability to fill a vacant qualified teacher position, while only 4% of respondents (8/182) were very confident. The teacher shortage has also put added pressure on our ECE kaiako, who work hard to ensure quality education and care for our tamariki. I interviewed two of these kaiako about how the teacher shortage has impacted them and offer ideas to help overcome this issue. Thank you to the kaiako who generously contributed their time and views. To protect their privacy, all identifying details have been removed and they have been assigned pseudonyms. Lucy Lucy has been teaching in the New Zealand ECE sector for eight years, most recently in a relieving capacity. Fully qualified and registered, she completed a Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) in her early thirties. Lucy previously had experience working with children, adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum and has a good understanding about the diverse needs of children in care environments. Growing up in a big whānau, Lucy enjoyed playing schools with her cousins and always took on the teacher role; this is where her passion for education was born. Lucy loves working alongside tamariki and supporting them to reach their full potential, stating “I love the way their minds work, their way of doing things, and the way they make sense of their world.” Lucy resigned from a head teacher role in mid-2023 following extreme exhaustion. Several weeks into the role she started noticing the personal stress, and some initial promises like employing more permanent staff did not come to fruition. She cites a lack of support, not enough permanent teachers being employed, poor ratios and no assigned non-contact time as major factors in increasing her stress levels. Lucy tried to lighten the burden for her staff by working more on the floor. In fact, the teaching team were so overworked that one even needed to take a week of stress leave, to which management suggested they had used mental health as an excuse to take time off work. This was the last straw for Lucy, who resigned as head teacher to pursue relief teaching. Since then, her stress has reduced drastically and the demand for qualified ECE relief teachers in her area has remained high. Relief teaching has allowed Lucy to experience an array of different services and shown her that there are centres that are well staffed and provide adequate support for kaiako. She has been offered a fixed-term contract in one such centre and is excited to be working with a permanent team again. NZ ECE Teacher Shortage: The Importance of Gathering Kaiako Feedback to Ensure Greater Understanding of Key Issues Facing the Sector By Ingrid Crispin, ECC Project Advisor December 2023 { 20 }

Sarah Sarah works as the head teacher at a relatively small urban ECE centre. She has been teaching for 16 years after having completed a Bachelor of Education in her early twenties. Like Lucy, Sarah comes from a large multicultural family in which she often took on a leadership role. This led to her discovering a love of working with children, and she remains particularly passionate about being a positive role model for tamariki and showing them that they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to. Sarah had been experiencing feelings of physical and mental exhaustion prior to suffering a break down approximately a year ago. The lack of a permanent kaiako meant that only two qualified kaiako had responsibility for a centre licenced for 30 children. This resulted in constant fatigue and expectations of bringing work home to complete, which progressively worsened over the course of five months. Alongside this, Sarah cited the ever-growing list of compliance and regulations as a major factor in her stress levels, stating that “there are forms for everything” which can lead to the magic of ECE teaching being lost. Following her break down, Sarah completed an 8-week wellness course which helped her to understand and deal with stress better. Over the last year, the employment of a third permanent kaiako has helped to reduce some of Sarah’s stress, however, there remain barriers to accessibility and affordability of relief teachers, and she still has days when she questions why she is in the profession. For now, Sarah is keeping her options open. She believes a proactive rather than reactive focus on staff wellbeing would have huge positive impacts on the sector and cannot understand why government support for mental health rarely extends beyond schools into ECE. She believes management can also support kaiako with their wellbeing through more professional development opportunities and teacher only days, which would boost staff morale and productivity, providing more benefits to children in the long term. Solutions Focus Results from recent ECC surveys and conversations with kaiako suggest that these situations are not isolated, so how do we try to resolve the teacher shortage issue and ensure that kaiako feel well supported so that they want to continue working in the sector? The ECC have grown increasingly interested in kaiako perspectives as we continue to navigate the complex nature of ECE and provide timely support to our members. We recognise the difficulties that many kaiako in the profession face, particularly considering the teacher shortage, and are a strong voice when it comes to matters like better pay and working conditions. Over the last year, ECC has advocated for kaiako on Pay Parity and have developed the Policy Manifesto to guide the new government in policy decisions. We also provide regular advice and up to date information through the fortnightly Teacher’s Chatterbox newsletter and offer a wide range of professional development opportunities that have been designed with a view of providing kaiako with a variety of strategies and emphasise the importance of teaching work. ECC feel that recognising kaiako and having a ‘space’ for ECE teachers to share their experiences is a step towards giving them the mana they so deserve. At ECC we are so committed to wellbeing in the sector that this has inspired our theme for the 2024 Conference: Success Through Wellbeing. ECC conferences are all about taking time out of the business so leaders, managers, owners, and their teaching teams can invest in themselves. There is something for everyone at our conferences and remaining motivated and ensuring you have the right people capabilities to meet new challenges is critical to success. There are also other support resources that ECE kaiako and management may not already be aware of. One key offering is the Workforce Wellbeing package, which is part of the government’s response to Covid-19 and provides an interactive online programme (Gold Star) and EAP counselling support. While the centrally funded EAP counselling is only available until December 2023, the online wellbeing programme has been extended and will remain open until June 2024. Search ‘Gold Star programme’ in your search engine to sign up to the course free. And do not forget about ECC’s Preferred Supplier partnership with Candidex, who put in the hard work to make international recruitment of ECE teachers easy for employers. ECC members receive special pricing on Candidex services, and their unique approach helps to mitigate many of the perceived risks of international recruitment. Despite the challenges and negative press, early childhood education remains a hugely rewarding sector to work in. Our valuable kaiako make a genuine difference in the lives of New Zealand’s tamariki and play a significant role in helping to shape the future of our society. In times like these, we need passionate and committed kaiako more than ever. With a plethora of tertiary institutes, the option to study both in person and via distance, and numerous scholarship opportunities, studying ECE has never been so easy. Visit the TeachNZ website to find out more about the support available to both new and existing kaiako. Do you know of other ways to help make working as an ECE teacher more attractive so that we can retain our best and recruit more to our sector? ECC are open to your ideas and would love to hear from you! Please contact ingrid.crispin@ecc.org.nz. December 2023 { 21 }

It's hard to imagine a world without stories. When I was growing up, my grandmother could never imagine a world without books or without telling stories. As a child, she told me stories about little pigs and angry goats, about spiders and brave little chickens. We read the adventures of five famous kids from a mysterious place called Kirrin and of a brave and optimistic girl called Pollyanna who lived in America. It would've been hard for her to imagine that we might be able to read text on a small screen that you had downloaded from the 'cloud.' It would have been hard for me to imagine that her voice would be replaced by an actor's voice recording on an on-demand video with an accent and sound that was not ours. LET STORIES LIVE FOREVER By Del Costello "Step through the gateway now, to stories that are as relevant today as they ever were." - Witi Ihimaera Things change, and technological advancement serves us in so many ways. In medicine, in travel, in commerce, and in education. However, the typical paradigm for the introduction of new technology is that the old technology is made redundant and eventually ceases to exist. This is perplexing when we think about the technologies that have eaten away at the human-based contact we need to build and grow our prosocial and social emotional world. In order to do these things well, we simply need people, we need each other. The art of human-to-human storytelling is one such relationship. As educators, we understand the importance of stories. We understand how the stories of our whānau connect us to each other and to the world around us. The art and craft of storytelling sits firmly in the narrative pedagogical space, and it is imperative that we implement and leverage the power of the story to support many facets of the development of tamariki: prosocial, socialemotional, early literacy, oral language, creativity, imagination, mental health, connection to culture, and to shape our identity and sense of self. If it is that important, what's the challenge? Research tells us that the part of our brain that stores and recounts stories is as old as mankind itself. Learning, listening to, December 2023 { 22 }

and recounting stories is as natural as breathing to humans, and yet we are often not using this skill or capacity to deliver it to advantage our tamariki, our whānau, and our communities. If we don't use it, it is likely that we will lose it! There is other collateral damage as well. Oral stories mean that information, history, myths, and legends that don't make it to written publications are at risk of permanent loss. Gone forever. In my years working with kaiako, I've never found anybody who's told me that engaging with narrative practices is a waste of time. What I have found, though, is varying levels of practice quality and confidence. So, here's a question for you. How is storytelling/narrative pedagogy authentically and purposefully woven into your local curriculum? This year I've engaged with hundreds of early childhood educators in this space, and many are doing an absolutely fantastic job. Let's spell out what a fantastic job looks, sounds, and feels like. What does it look like? There are several places to look for in quality practice. The first would be in planning documents, vision and value statements, appraisals, and observation systems. If you step beyond the office into the learning space, you will see artifacts and provocations that directly link the stories that are being planned for and told. It could even go as far as the design of your centre and the learning space itself. We would see a place and space where oral stories come alive every day. If you look, you will see kaiako taking the opportunity to tell oral stories anytime they can. It's important here to mention that I'm not talking about reading from a text or a book. While this is an incredibly important practice, narrative pedagogical practices go well beyond books. You will see tamariki retelling to each other and retelling to themselves, playing characters from the story, drawing elements of a story, and they will have ownership of and have found connections. You will see them placing themselves in the stories they have heard. What does it sound like? It sounds like the whole community can tell the story. Kaiako can look out the window and tell the story of the maunga. They can walk on the banks of the awa and tell the stories associated with it. They can look at a provocation and tell the story of how provocation is connected to the tamariki in some way. You will hear tamariki chattering and conversation about story elements, characters, problems, and solutions. You will hear tamariki telling their favorite stories and taking ownership pride in the fact they know these and can share. What does it feel like? Having oral stories at the center of your local curriculum feels like you have found the missing piece of the puzzle. I like to think of a local curriculum as being like a giant jigsaw. There are some pieces and sections that are already there, and pieces of the puzzle are tricky to do, but with patience, time, and help from your friends, our whānau, and tamariki, you can get the puzzle completed. Having a kete of your own, local stories feels like your place is grounded, like you know who you are and where you belong. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT With all of this in mind, at Coactive Education, we've developed professional development and resource solutions to support centres to implement quality storytelling practices, to connect with their local stories and local storytellers, and to build the important resources that kaiako need day to day. In the process of designing our solution, we asked kaiako about their storytelling experiences. We found out some interesting things: cKaiako knew that storytelling was important cThey knew that tamariki found oral stories highly engaging xMany kaiako thought they were not good at storytelling xMany were reluctant to tell local stories because they didn't feel they were theirs to tell xMany kaiako were nervous about the pronunciation of Te Reo Māori, so avoided stories and even books that included reo Māori xKaiako didn't know where or how to grow these skills We saw this as good news! All of the challenges were easily overcome with practical and systematic support. Mindset is a bit trickier, but we are all good on that front! HOW KAIAKO CAN GET STARTED ● Get feedback on your storytelling skills ● Make a plan to grow and develop ● Build a rich kete of stories that you can tell without reading December 2023 { 23 }