Media Advisory: ECE experts to speak at Dunedin conference


9 July 2012

Early childhood education and its interface with primary school and communities is the focus of a key conference in Dunedin this weekend. This is timely in the context of the government’s drive to see more children participating in quality early childhood education services to better prepare them for primary school.

Early childhood education and its interface with primary school and communities is the focus of a key conference in Dunedin this weekend. This is timely in the context of the government’s drive to see more children participating in quality early childhood education services to better prepare them for primary school.

380 delegates will attend the conference which Education Minister Hekia Parata will open on Saturday morning. It is the 49th Annual Conference of Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association (NZCA) and runs at the St David Street Lecture Theatre Complex, University of Otago from Saturday 30 June to Monday 2 July. Journalists are welcome to attend.

Keynote speakers, including Dr Elizabeth Brooker (University of London) and Sally Peters (University of Waikato), will speak about children's move into school from early childhood education and the community connections required to facilitate this transition.

The conference will be hosted by Ngai Tahu. Paulette Tamati-Elliffe from Ngai Tahu will speak at the conference about the importance of partnerships and effective communication between whānau, teachers, centre managers and principals in laying a strong foundation towards whānau ora. Her keynote presentation will also consider the role of leadership within centres and schools in supporting the needs of bilingual whānau.

Nancy Bell, Chief Executive of NZCA, says a highlight of the conference will be the launch of a key research project which compared the quality of early childhood education centres which have 100 percent qualified teachers with centres with only 50 percent qualified teachers. The study showed marked differences in children’s experiences when all of their teachers are qualified. Children in ‘100 percent qualified’ centres are more likely to have conversations with teachers, to partake in shared sustained thinking with teachers and to engage in complex play. These activities are thought to be predictive of later school achievement.

“The research outcomes support our view that regulating for 100 percent qualified teachers in early childhood education provides the best quality early childhood education and the best possible start for children” says Nancy Bell.

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