Low pay, high stress and lack of value placed on early learning are all challenges faced by early childhood teachers, says Lee Tulloch, manager of Li’l Pumpkins Early Learning.
World Teacher’s Day was held on October 5th, with people around the world celebrating the valuable work that teachers do in our communities. However, in Aotearoa, large numbers of ECE teachers are rallying for change in the sector.
“I love being an ECE teacher and enjoy being part of the profession, but love does not pay the bills,” says Tulloch. “When asked about whether a person should consider training I say “don’t do it”, too much stress and responsibility for a government attested rate of $23.95. Take out of that contribution to Kiwisaver and student loan repayments, the outlook isn’t great for a quality lifestyle.”
Tulloch says that the pay rate of teachers reflects misunderstandings of the importance of the work teachers do. Widespread academic research has demonstrated the importance of quality early childhood education for determining positive outcomes later in life.
“For decades ECE teachers have struggled for recognition for the important work that they are doing for our youngest community members. With the growing research validating what we have known for years that quality ECE has long term social and socio economic outcomes on our tamariki, families are still happy to put their precious taonga with the lowest paid professionals in New Zealand.”
The education sector has also experienced a teacher shortage, with many teaching graduates choosing to work in other areas due to low pay and difficult working conditions. However, some sector experts say we may see a rise in those joining the teaching profession in a post-COVID environment.